A Letter to My 18 Year Old Self

Dear 18 year old Melissa,

It was strange to hear from you like this; a letter smashed into your Senior year portfolio, titled, "Open me in 5 Years", just waiting to be forgotten. I can't remember ever reading this letter from you when I was 23, but apparently I did. I don't remember your naive, 18 year old perspective on life; loathing the very last days of high school and ready to take on your new world. All you seemed to care about was your boyfriend at the time...ironic how things turn out for you.

Let me tell you, sweet Melissa, things are going to change...a lot. Your world will turn upside-down and right-side up, over and over and over again. The next 8 years of your life will be some of the craziest and most important times of your existence, so listen up.

Learn to love yourself, wholly. And while you're at it, learn to love that skinny little frame. Before you know it...you'll have more curves than you'll even know what to do with. Take as many photographs as you can. It's your dream to be a photographer, so don't let anyone tell you otherwise. Do what you love. Travel as much as you can. Practice volleyball. Be open to new experiences. Learn to let go; you'll be doing a lot of that in your coming years. Don't go back to a guy that hurts you...though doing so will lead you to the man of your dreams, so if you do, wear a thick skin and know that you deserve better. Wear less makeup. Write more. Breathe deeper. Love with all you have. Laugh out loud. Own your inner nerd, it will take you far in life. Be the best you that you can possibly be.

In your 21st year, you'll eventually get enough courage to ditch your tumultuous relationship (after 4 years) and in doing so, find a strength in yourself you never knew existed. This will change you, forever. Hang on tight, it will be a wild ride. You will do more between the ages of 21 and 27 than you ever thought possible. You will fall in love - fast. You will gain life-long friends and lose those who don't bring anything positive to your future. You will cry...a lot. You will marry the love of your life. Together, you'll buy a home and grow so deep in love others will ask how you make it look so easy. Don't let them be fooled, it isn't as easy as it looks. Marriage takes work, but together you can accomplish anything.

I can't really prepare you for what will happen in your 24th year, but know this, it will be okay. You will be okay. You will survive it. It will hurt like hell for a long time and there'll be days where you don't want to get out of bed. Listen to me now, get out of bed. Seek refuge in those close to you and understand that no matter what happens, life will go on. You will be shaken to your core. Doubts and negativity will take over your mind and you'll wonder what it's all for. Keep pushing. There is always a light at the end of the tunnel.

We are currently on the brink of our 27th year and there is so much to be grateful for in our life. Together we made it here and together, we will push on. As the saying goes, "when the going gets tough, the tough gets going" and we, sweet Melissa, are as tough as ever. Who knows what great adventures lie ahead for us to discover.

Love,

26 year old Melissa

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