Dear 15-year-old Adrianna,
You still don’t know me, but I know you very well. I decided to write to you because as our 25th birthday approaches, I've found myself reflecting on what I’ve learned during these past few years. I know how hard it is for you to take someone’s advice (even if it’s coming from yourself) but just take the best out of this letter. Even though there’s still a lot more left for us to accomplish, I hope you’re proud of the person you've grown up to be because I’m extremely proud of the woman I've become.
Now, let's dive in.
First of all, stop trying to fit in. You are unique and amazing just the way you are, and I want for you to see this. I know how much you want to “belong”, but honey – there’s a world out there waiting for you to just be yourself and be happy while you're at it! With time, you’ll realize all that petty high school nonsense means nothing; it's a waste of your time. By age 21 you’ll live in Spain for several months for a study abroad program. You’ll meet tons of people, travel like it’s nobody’s business, and it will be the experience of a lifetime! By age 23, you’ll move out of Puerto Rico and start a new life in New York City (yes, dreams do come true when you work really hard for them), so what you’ll be facing in high school and college doesn’t even compare to what lies ahead for you! Just focus on doing what makes you happy.
On that note, stop doing what doesn't make you happy. “Well, obviously!” you might think, but I know you too well and at times you tend to forget to make yourself a priority. You can’t please the entire world you know, it’s an unreal expectation. Accept it and put yourself first a little more often. Also, don’t dwell on the past – it’s an exercise in futility, same as stressing about the future. Each and every day, strive to be a better person than who you were the day before, and regarding the future, as long as you keep doing what you love, I promise you’ll find your way.
Carpe diem. So cliché, right? But seriously, seize every single opportunity which comes your way! You’re a big goal setter, you’ve always been, but sometimes you let your fears and insecurities get in the way. Don’t. Try this instead, set some time during the day to work on something (anything) which will get you closer to where you want to be. It can be anything, big or small! This reminds me, don’t be too hard on yourself either. Always remember to have fun while you’re at it! Work hard, play hard – it’s all about keeping a healthy balance and enjoying the ride!
Correspondingly, know yourself, be yourself, love yourself, and forgive yourself. If you’re feeling lost, seek within, the answer is always there. Never apologize for being you, for always giving it your all, because that’s what makes you special. Love your strengths as much as your weaknesses, and forgive yourself for not meeting your expectations at times, because you are not perfect. Nobody is. Those who truly care about you will accept you for who you are, flaws and everything.
Once you begin to practice self-love and self-acceptance, you’ll be ready to feel and give love to someone who deserves it, and I know you’re only 15 but you’ll get there eventually. At that point in time, love fiercely and don’t apologize for it. There are people who’ll never get to know what loving someone truly means, but one day you will and you’ll see how beautiful it is (though at times it might feel terrifying.) But let me tell you, there is absolutely nothing wrong with feeling a little vulnerable, it only means you're human. One last piece of advice: be mindful of who you share your heart with; it's a treasure you should not hand away that easily. The right person will have to earn it.
Lastly, no one is in charge of your happiness except you. Own this and pursue what you love, pursue the things which move you! Take charge of your life, make plans, set goals, prioritize, don’t be afraid to fail, and if you do, what’s the worst that could happen? You get up, you wipe it off, and you go at it again. Don’t regret a single thing because everything you’ll go through in the coming years will set you up to become the person who is writing this letter to you today. Take risks and never stop learning, growing, and improving.
With all my love,
25-year old Adrianna Naomi