Letters To My Seventeen-Year-Old Self: Being Different Is Cool

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.

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This was my favorite cover we worked on during my time at Seventeen.

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.


Dear Krista,

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.

Love,
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)

Weddings And Exes And Singleness, Oh My!

I went to a wedding last weekend for one of my good college friends and had such a wonderful time. It was the first time I had seen one of my guy friends get married, and I was actually really surprised that I teared up during their ceremony. I always cry at weddings, but somehow thought I might be able to keep my cool since it wasn’t one of my close girl friends. I think it was almost even more of a tear-jerker seeing a guy so darn excited to get married to his wonderful fiancée. Sooo, I should always wear waterproof mascara to weddings — noted.

Anyway, I didn’t really know what to expect going to this celebration for a lot of different reasons. First, I was the only one in my group of friends who wasn’t going to drink at all. This is kind of typical for me, but I usually have at least one other friend who doesn’t want to get too crazy, which is always nice if things do get a little out of hand. Second, an ex of mine I hadn’t seen since we broke up was going to be there, and I wasn’t sure how that was all going to play out. Third, I was the only single girl in our friend group going, and I was definitely the odd one out since I didn’t have a date to bring. I initially thought a few of my single friends would also be without dates, but they ended up finding people at the last minute to go with, so I was sure to be placed at a dinner table alone with couples.

Despite all of the things that seemed to work against me, I genuinely think I had the most fun out of any of our friends there — with the exception of the bride and groom. Not having a date wasn’t a big deal, because I danced with whatever friends were around and made a few new buddies to groove with! I was able to run on and off the dance floor according to the DJs song choice without consulting with anyone, and sang along to Taylor Swift without a worry in the world.

 

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This night just further proved my point that you can have an incredible time being single in your twenties. I’ve become kind of a pro at 3rd, 5th, or 7th wheeling, but this is a major way I’ve become more confident and secure with being by myself. I had plenty of reasons to decline the wedding invitation — it could be too awkward to see an old long term boyfriend, none of my girl friends were going to be my partner in crime there anymore, the wedding was out of town, etc. — but I decided to go because I wanted to be able to watch one of my good friends get married to the love of his life, and I wanted to finally meet the girl I have heard such great things about. Weddings aren’t about you anyway unless it’s your own big day; they’re about celebrating the two people getting married and making sure they have the time of their lives!

Being single has helped me grow in ways I don’t think I could have as easily with a partner, and I think it’s important to be able to handle situations in life with or without a significant other to lean on. I’m proud of myself for not being afraid to dance alone (and sober!), and I feel great knowing that I can have a polite and cordial conversation with an ex without any sort of old or unresolved feelings popping up. I faced my fears all by myself, and didn’t just get through the night, but had the most fun I have had in a really long time. This event helped me learn that the only way I want to bring a date to a wedding is if I have someone really special to take.

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One of my best friends Elizabeth was there, and I had a blast dancing with her and her bae!

 

Today’s lesson: Learn to have fun with yourself so when you don’t have a date you can still have a great time. Having people you can rely on in life is important, but it’s also so great to be able to count on the one person you’ll always be with — yourself!