I know you are scared; I know you feel alone; I know you are putting up this protective barrier that makes you seem hard and confident, but deep down, you are really scared. I know because I am you.
It won’t always be that way. You have a long road ahead of you, but someday you will realize how beautiful you are, not beauty based on outward appearances or society’s definition of beauty, but a beauty that comes from within your soul. You will love who you are because your love for all things beautiful will shine through your eyes, will radiate from your skin, will echo in your words. I know because I am you.
I know you’ll have a hard time believing this, but how you are feeling now as a senior in high school is typical of most everyone in your class. Everyone around you has some of the same insecurities, they just hide it differently. You’re not alone. You’ll find out someday that you had more in common with the people you walked the halls with than you could imagine. I know because I spoke with many of them recently, and they told me they felt the same way I felt when I was you.
You know that boy you had a crush on, the one you didn’t think knew you were alive? He knows you; he’s just shy. Be thankful he is because you are nowhere near ready to be in a relationship with anyone, let alone him. I know because I am you.
You know how you feel invisible, like your skin changes from yellow to orange to red, depending on which hall you’re walking down? That’s not true either. People see you, but they feel invisible too. I don’t know what makes teenagers feel that way, but it’s ok, because you grow out of it. Someday, you’ll walk into a room and won’t care who sees you, because someday you’ll realize the only way to be visible is to see the beautiful people around you. But for now, stay the way you are. You have a rough road ahead, but it will make you a stronger, more compassionate person. I know because I am you.
And finally, pay more attention to the people who are around you. They become some of the greatest people you will ever meet, and you’ll let them slip out of your life. But don’t worry. The good ones will come back to you, at the exact moment you need them most. I know because I am you.
Love you, with all my heart,
The older version of you
Thank you, Gates-Chili, class of 1982 for a great 30th reunion!