Before I got sick I was hoping to move to New York City to turn my internship at Seventeen magazine into a full time job. Working at Seventeen was a dream job for me, as I absolutely love to write and feel like it is my calling to somehow share my experiences with teen girls in particular.
I think a big influence for this was my own high school experience. Looking back I realize how wildly insecure everyone was, and I remember struggling with my own image in so many different ways when I was that young. I have noticed my following with teenagers really growing lately, so I decided to start a new throwback segment dedicated to teens all about the advice I would give to seventeen-year-old me if I could go back in time.
I know you don’t particularly love high school and that you don’t feel like you fit in. You often feel invisible and like your presence doesn’t add anything to your school. Hang in there. High school hardly lasts forever; in fact, the 4 years you’ll spend there will seem so minuscule in the grand scheme of things. Despite what your best friend says, you’ll never regret not going to prom or missing a football game because you’d rather stay in and watch Netflix by yourself — and no, that doesn’t make you lame.
Now that I’m 25 and ten years (!!!) removed from my first year of high school, here are a few things I’ve learned.
The popular crowd doesn’t have it all figured out. I know they all seem like they’re having the time of their lives — some of them might be — but high school parties won’t play a role in the rest of your life. Most people don’t peak in high school, and that’s a good thing. You’ll have so much more to look forward to in life and won’t feel stuck wishing you could come back to this moment. Furthermore, high school popularity doesn’t translate to anything in the real world. Some of the popular kids will do amazing things with their lives, but others will feel lost and unsure of what their purpose in life is long after graduating. Stay true to yourself whether or not your peers love you for it. In the grand scheme of things, different is cool. Being different is what will help you get some kickass internships in college, and it is how you will learn to be content with your life even through the curve balls it throws at you.
You are young and innocent. No, not everyone has your best interest at heart, and there are plenty of people making decisions you never would have even known existed at your school. It’s okay that everyone tells you you’re “cute” instead of “hot,” and don’t feel bad when people whisper about things around you to preserve your innocence. Lots of people lose this far too early and can’t go back. You’ll make a few in your lifetime, but the most important thing is that you will learn from your mistakes. One day you might just write about them too, in order to save others from the heartache that you have been through.
In the meantime, have fun. Don’t worry about fitting in; keep prank calling Toys R’ Us asking for goofy violent Care Bear movies that don’t exist, dancing through the aisles in Walmart and laughing at people’s reactions, and TPing your best friends little sister at sleepovers. These are memories that you will cherish for years to come. Being cool is overrated, instead just be you.
Your 25-year-old self (Who, by the way, is still figuring out the way this thing called life works… I’m beginning to think adults don’t always know what the “right” thing to do is either)