As I sit in a picture-esq moment (in front of a roaring fire, rain against the glass window, purring cat beside me) I can’t help but to reflect. Even though it’s been a busy day with my two younger cousins, my mind still takes a moment to process some data. Naturally, it wonders to the events of my day; chilling with my cousins, Lauren who is 13 and Ben who is 7 years of age. Lauren reminds me greatly of myself when I was 13. Stretching myself for attention in different forms of expression – I had purple hair and swore Avril Lavigne (He was a boy, she was a girl, can I make it anymore obvious?) was my soul mate, she finds interest in shows none of her friends know about and Snapchats her every moment.

At 13, I was an angsty pre-teen thousands of steps ahead of the rest of my class. I didn’t fit in at school and screamed I misunderstood by everyone around me. My CDs ranged from Dido to Avril Lavgine to Kelly Clarkson. I wrote emotional poems about my love for the boy next door. And about heart break when I was grounded and forbidden to see my boyfriend whom I lost my virginity to that summer. I always knew 13 was a young age to loose my virginity. I look at my 13 year old cousin and am reminded how young I truly was. If I could talk to my 13 year old self, what would I say? Would I stop myself? What wisdom would pass along? I could tell myself all of the events and consequences that would occur the next decade. But ultimately I would say this:

Dear 13 year old Abby,

What a wonder you are! With purple hair, an older boyfriend, decent grades and a passion for writing lyrics and poems. You struggle with fitting in, navigating divorced parents and extended family, exploring your sexual desires. You may not be close to many people, but you have an incredible best friend who is your non-biological sister.

Now I could tell you how to act, what choices not to make, what feelings to keep quiet. I could tell you who enters into your life, and who sticks around. I could tell you not to feel so down that it all works out. But I won’t.

Feel your feelings.

Make the choices you want to make in that moment. Even if that means having sex young or skipping class or slapping that kid and getting suspended for it.

Eat the junk food.

Curse at your mother. Hug her too.

Fall in love.

Attempt sports and learn you just aren’t athletically coordinated.

Scream at the top of your lungs when you’re mad.

Embrace the angst and all the crappy (yes, it really is crappy even a decade later) emo music that follows.

Just don’t stop being you. Don’t stop designing your journey. Every choice you make from here on out creates who you are. And it’ll all be okay. Take it from me, you turn out quite alright.

Love,
Future (and much wiser) Abby