In my senior year, my physics teacher made us write a letter to our future selves. I mean this quite literally. We wrote the advice we would give ourselves in five years, wrote down the names of a few good friends, and sealed the envelope. She promised to mail it to our home addresses in five years. It will be 5 years in May 2013.
I don’t remember what I wrote. But I do remember that at 18 I was fearless– within that stereotypical high school framework, that is. Also, one of the people I named as a good friend is now my boyfriend. But anyway, by stereotypical framework I mean there was an acceptable way to dress, an acceptable way to wear ones’ hair, and even acceptable ways to think and view the world. None of which I paid attention to.
The person who I was then is no longer the one I am now. Life experiences change who we are. Some ways that I’ve changed? I think about things before they come flying out of my mouth, my teenage dreams evolved into goals, some of which, like getting a degree, moving away from home, becoming a freelance writer, are now full fledged attainable goals or perhaps achievements already. My world view has expanded immensely, and I am a deeper critical thinker. I’ve explored religion and spirituality on a different level. I discovered I have been a feminist all along. I’ve explored love at new heights. And, I even dress differently–to name a few. I just grew up.
Though I’m an adult now, there are a few things that my 18 year old alter ego called Nes used to do that I aspire to hold on to or even bring back into my current consciousness. I always thought that the older we get, the wiser we get, but the me in high school actually already knew a lot about life.
1. Dance like no one is watching, sing like no one is listening, speak your mind like you’re brilliant. Man, if only you could hear half of the $#!t that came out of my mouth back then! My most memorable moment was reading a scathing poem at a poetry slam (and later at a local poetry cafe) about my former employer. People thought it was so ‘sick’, and I felt pretty awesome about outing them. Looking back, it wasn’t the best decision because I basically ousted myself from ever working there again. Not that it matters since I hated it anyway, but I’m not a fan of burning bridges. I do want to summon some of that fearlessness today though. I can’t think of how many times I’ve hushed myself in my Journalism/Women’s Studies classes because I didn’t want to cause an uproar or didn’t want to argue, even if I thought my perspective was valid. Limitlesson 1: Never speaking your mind makes your thoughts and ideas remain stagnant! What use are they then?
2. You’re probably going to fail, but do it anyway. I never thought I could teach myself how to play the guitar. I never thought I would make it into Journalism school. I never thought I would move out of my home town. I never thought I could lose weight (I used to be obese from childhood to about age 15–no joke–and I lost about 100 lbs. Then lost 15 more pounds after high school). I never thought I would ever fall in love. I did all of those, even though I thought, in a very silly way, none would ever happen. But, I have had some setbacks. I was not able to go to Journalism school right out of college. I still have not published a book or work on filmmaking. I have not written as many short stories or poems as I have hoped (yet). Point being, sometimes you fail, sometimes you don’t, there no real way of telling so just do it anyway. Limitlesson 2: What’s the worst you can lose?
3. Wear a clown suit. Dare people to laugh. Okay, maybe not a clown suit per se, but wear what you want, listen to the music that you want, be into quirky things. I used to bleach my hair then dye it red (I now know that’s never a good idea for my hair type..oh well..), wore band t-shirts, had awkward piercings, weird jeans, busted shoes, listened to all sorts of music, wrote odd poetry. I didn’t care what people thought of it because it made me happy–truly happy, not just in that weird artsy-fartsy kid kind of way. Though my fashion and music choices have evolved, I do admire Nes for just doing what she felt like. Limitlesson 3: Just do YOU. What else matters besides that?
In closing, I know my list is rather simplistic, but after seeing a few old high school pictures while raiding a friend’s Facebook photo album and putting on “Taking Back Sunday” radio on Pandora, it brought me right back to high school. It reminded me of a few little things I will never forget about myself, things that made me smile.
We all have fond high school memories of ourselves. Please share yours below!