Dear Natasha, (age 17)
Please remember not to judge people at face value. Looks aren't everything and yours will fade. Know that the unrelenting pain you feel when you think of him will end. It will take three years, but you will stop loving him. He, however, will not stop loving you and he will do everything in his power to remind you of this. Be strong. You will throw away every picture. You will also throw away his basketball shirt, his lacrosse shirt and his football shirt. Find something else to sleep in. Don't makeout with complete strangers, you're not that kind of girl. Stop selling yourself short, give yourself only to those who inspire you. Let people in. Don't be so cynical about life and love. Quit going to bed with your makeup on. Try not to be so impulsive...with your spending, with your choice in men, with your lifestyle in general. It's not healthy. You will be the other woman. Don't let it happen again. You'll give one too many eulogies, prepare yourself for the worst kind of heartache ever imaginable, you'll piece it back together eventually. Family is forever. That is unconditional. They will always love you, when you forget this (and you will), all you need to do is ask because sometimes you just need to hear that someone loves you. Turn your cell phone off at night. When you go to bed, so does your phone. No one important will text you in the middle of the night, and the ones that do only do so because you leave it on. No, you didn't love Eric, but let him down easy. Consider his feelings as if they were your own. You and Justin are incompatible for the long term. It doesn't matter how much your mom liked him or how much he will compromise to make you happy. In college you'll find your soulmate. Her name is Francesca. Smile more, strangers think you look like a bitch. They're right. Slow down, once you get going you tend not to stop. Your body is tired, let it rest. Go to more poetry readings. Save your Kenneth Koch anthology in a safe place. Put your great-grandmother's diamond in your safety deposit box. Damnit, stop procrastinating. Surround yourself with people who truly know you, who want to get to know you, and who accept you for you. Ask questions. Curiosity is knowledge, don't ever forget that. You'll never stop learning, appreciate this. Stop collecting half-filled glasses of water in your bedroom. When it matters most, be sure to say how you really feel. You won't, but still promise to try. You'll stop writing for a little over a year for several reasons. These are not reasons. They are excuses. Know that you will snap out of this and begin writing again. Lastly, wait for someone worthy. Someone who will be the best part of your day. Someone who will make your dreams his dreams and vice versa.
Natasha (age 22)