Dear me at 15,
I’m writing you this letter to tell you about an epiphany I had a few nights ago:
Being a teenager is awesome.
Now, I know this sounds contradictory to all the Letters I’ve written to you prior to this one. And it kind of is. Most of my Letters have been addressing all of the anxieties, grievances, confusion and general turmoil that tends to accompany one’s adolescence. But I’m here to tell you that there’s actually a whole lot of awesomeness that’s involved in being your age. And I want for you to recognize it and take advantage of it before it’s too late.
You see, the other night, I was downstairs in your future kitchen, having just put your future daughter to bed. It was one of the first hot days of summer, and the sky had that wonderful warm glow that happens just after the sun sets. I myself was settling down for the evening; teeth brushed, jammies on. But looking at that summer sky, I was overcome with a feeling of anticipation. Excitement. Freedom.
Something about that summer night sky sent me right into a full-force teenaged summer flashback. I was right back into your life again.
I was putting on my makeup and my cutest little punk rock outfit with Amy in the upstairs bathroom of my parents’ house. I was taking the Don Mills bus down to Cliffwood Park. I was singing Sublime into the wee small hours with a 40 oz of Cherry Wine Cooler in my hand and not a care in the world. I was relishing in time wasted without responsibilities, surrounded by friends, feeling the warm summer breeze on my skin. Enjoying the first real kisses with my first real love. Laughing and dancing and falling down.
And as much as I tried to remember all of the uncomfortable, awkward and even downright traumatic things that happened during my teenaged years, I just simply couldn’t. All I could think about was that uncontrollable laughter. The time that Amy and I had a food fight with Betty Crocker frosting at the Lake House in the middle of the night. The way that we were literally rolling around on the ground, holding our stomachs, smears of chocolate in our hair, sore from giggling so hard and trying even harder not to wake Mom.
The luxury of time. Planning for hours about what outfit would be worn to which show. Organizing snacks, travel arrangements and must-see-acts to each years’ Warped Tour with the intensity deserving of a year-long journey. Going to a concert and dancing until hot and sweaty, hair ruined, make-up running, and not caring, because I was having the time of my life moving to the music that truly moved me.
The connection with friends. Such a deep, intimate connection. Sharing every detail of your life with someone, good and bad, unafraid of judgement, and knowing that person cares enough to listen and understand. The feeling of connecting intensely with someone who isn’t either related by blood or legally bound to appreciate you.
The hope for the future. Everything is an unknown. The possibilities are endless. There’s so much to experience. So much to see. So much to look forward to.
My dear girl, you will do a lot of wonderful things in your life. Most of your dreams will actually come true. But I’m here to tell you, in many ways, the dreaming can be almost as good as the fruition. Dreaming about the things you want, not knowing, wondering, questioning, imagining all the possibilities- that’s an incredible feeling. And it’s a feeling you’ll experience less often, the more experiences you gain.
I know that being a teenager can be frustrating. You feel like an adult. You just want to get your life started, already. You want to be in control of your own independence and no longer under your parents’ rule. But, in many ways, you have more freedom now than you will as an adult. All your expenses are covered. There is food on your table without you having to prepare it. Your bills are paid. Your laundry is done. The only person that you need to focus on right now is YOU.
I know that you’re itching to be responsible for your own life. But there is something really, really great about being able to be irresponsible.
You have the ability to write your future. To decide who you want to be and be it. Try on some different hats. Don’t be so serious all the time. Stop worrying about the details of the sequence of events that will follow from every single step of your life. Stop worrying. Stop being so darned responsible and just BE for a while.
And the next time you hop on the Don Mills bus and head down to Cliffwood Park for the evening, do me a favour and give an extra big hug to your friends. Dance a little more. Laugh a little harder. Love those moments as intensely as they deserve and I promise you, you won’t regret it.
And as for me, tonight I’ll raise a special glass of Cherry Wine Cooler to you, my friend. The night is ours. Now hop on that bus and go make me proud.