Dear 18 year old Analise,
Let me start by saying: going to “the club’ is not cool, freak dancing is not the way to meet your soulmate, and your extremely revealing dress is not doing you any favors.
You are not infinite. If I could tell you one thing right now to save you so much pain, it would be that. You are not shielded from pain, heartache, or even illness. The world is an unfair place and you are no exception to that, but you also need to know that you must embrace the hardship that’s coming your way. Because it’s coming your way in a very big way, but they will be the very hardships that will make you a strong person with a heart that is bottomless with empathy.
Your parents are not infinite. Just like you, their health finds bumps in the road and they come along more often. So, be nice to them. They put up with you with minimal amounts of judgement when you wore a “Ramones” shirt when you were 14, despite never listening to the band once and loved you despite your perpetual bad mood and endless vanity during your high school years. They are the reason that you will grow up to be a kind, honest, silly, and motivated person. They have been through more than you can even comprehend and you should keep that in mind before taking them for granted.
Relax. Your anxiety and stress does not give you control over anything, it only causes an unnecessary internal storm. Believe it or not, stress kills and eventually takes a toll on your body. You’ll find this out the hard way: watching your father have a massive heart attack due to stress will trigger the realization, followed up by stress-induced flare ups from a disease you’ll be diagnosed with in a few years. Worrying about a situation does not change or solve the issue, it only gives it power over you. Leave it, drop it, and let it be.
Find God. Whatever it is that you think God is, run–no, sprint–toward it. Do not underestimate the power of spirituality. There is something so much bigger than you out there and it will shake you awake. If you have trouble finding God, first look inward. Then, be still. You’ll find that if you look carefully, God seems to be part of everything; it is my firm belief that whoever God is, that he is not separate from us, he is us.
Do not judge people. We are all so much more alike than we realize. You need to blind yourself completely to ethnicity, gender, religion, and sexual orientation. You have absolutely no authority over those things, and by judging them, you miss out on what makes up the insides of a person. The world can be a hateful place, and you do not have to partake in it’s hatefulness. Fight it.
Stop trying to fit in. You don’t need to look, act, or be like everyone else. Remember when girls would wear those clear bra straps so it looked like they weren’t wearing a bra and you actually thought it was REALLY weird because clear is not equal to invisible, but you did it anyway? Go with that feeling. Your gut is right: you have preferences and you are way too smart to wear a clear bra strap that does NOT make it look like you’re not wearing a bra.
Finally, do not give up. This may be cliché, but it’s the truest thing I know. Like I said, you are going to go through turbulent times, but you cannot give in to the negativity that tells you to throw in the towel. No depression, no disease, no circumstance can become you. You have so much more strength in you than you can even possibly imagine and the sooner you realize that, the sooner your life will start to rapidly change for the better.
With so much love and happiness from the future,
PS: Your favorite food is STILL biscuits and gravy. Why can’t we branch out?