Letter to my 18 Year Old Self

My dearest La,
You are running. Plain and simple. There are no fancy words for it or kinder ways to put it. You will regret it, because in a few years when you have your heart broken by a man you love more than air, everything you thought you left behind will be right in front of you and you will have to fight through it. It will hurt. But like Joy says, you are a palm tree.
Your running will take you away from home where you will regrettably spend upwards of $80,000 just to learn what you could have, should have learned anywhere else in the world for free; not everyone will leave you. And you are no island. The bad news is, the ill planned escape route commonly known as college will cause you financial stress for years to come. The good news, the amazing news, is that there, and in the years that follow, you will meet the family you have been looking for all your life.
These people you will meet, these lessons you will learn, the tears you will cry and fights you will have and smiles that will be permanently tattooed across a memory in your mind will shape you into who you always thought you could be, if you ever got the chance. You will not be alone anymore.
You think that running is the answer because you don’t think you’re strong. You chastise yourself for being intensely empathetic. You think your propensity for welling up at profound experiences and feeling everything, everyone so deeply hold you back. You feel guilty about being hurt. You feel weak for needing, for wanting. You are willful and selfish, not because you really are at your core, but because you don’t think anyone else is consistently looking out for you. And who can blame you for that with your history? You think this will protect you. And being able to protect yourself makes you feel strong. This, like so much else, in an illusion. This is what makes you weak.
About two years from now, you will find out something that will fundamentally change the way you’ve looked at your life. It will make you so angry that you will become numb. And you will stay that way, for far longer than you will be proud of.
If I could tell you anything, teach you anything that I know now at 28, that you cannot know at 18, it would be that you are no safer, no stronger for holding yourself back from people who wish to love you, flaws and all. You are no braver for holding things is. You are a pressure cooker. You will explode.
But unlike other times, you will have people in your corner to help you pick up the pieces. They will love you. They will find your brokenness uniquely lovely. They won’t be able to fix you, you will learn this lesson painfully, but they will be there. They will wipe tears and tell jokes and push back and ignore you when you proudly say you don’t need help. They will be there. They will love you. Please, let them.
Looking back at you now, even as you are stubborn, even as you are fractured, even as you are sometimes cold and quick tempered and unaffected, I am so proud of you. You are wildly creative and incredibly astute. You are exceptionally intelligent and, underneath it all, you are so incredibly kind and empathetic and not judgmental that it makes me weep. You instinctively seek goodness in people, to compliment the goodness you don’t believe you have in yourself, and you will find it, love. It won’t always be easy, as a matter of fact, it will hardly EVER be easy, but you will not just survive, you will flourish. Because at 18, you are stronger than some people are at 38, 48, 58.
I wish you knew that.
Love always,
La =)

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