Graduation season is in full swing, and I’m so excited to say that I am going back to college! I’m going back to the University of Central Florida to earn a Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing this coming fall. It is everything that I have secretly/not so secretly wanted, and I am so happy to have this feeling of obtaining so much at twenty-five.
To honor my accomplishments and celebrate how far I’ve come, I thought I would take the time to write a letter to my high school self. Nothing played out according to the life plan I designed, and I have to say that it worked out for the best because I’m so happy with where I’m at today. Keep reading to learn what I would tell myself back then.
Dear High School Senior Kristi,
You might not believe it, but your confidence is going to be so much better 7 years later. I know you’re confident now, because you got into your dream school, and you’ve been reinforced that writing is the thing that you’re meant to do. But looking back from the perspective of your 25 year old self, your confidence has come so much from other people telling you that you’re worthy. I’m telling you that there is so much inside you for you to love and be proud of, even if you don’t recognize all of these things yet.
That being said, don’t feel bad for cutting toxic people out of your life. I know there are some people you love, but just because you love them doesn’t mean that you have no boundaries with them. You can love and support them from afar, while deciding where your limits are for what you want to take from them. Trust your intuition; just because they love you doesn’t mean that they know what is best for you. And if they try and make you feel bad for taking care of yourself, ask yourself how much do they really love you?
Speaking of intuition, it does not steer you wrong. There is a difference between paranoia and intuition, and there is definitely a difference between self-doubt and intuition. Figure out when your intuition is speaking to you, and make sure to listen because it knows.
I’m sure you want me to tell you about all the mistakes you made so that you can avoid them, but when I look back, I think the mistakes were important to make because we learned from them. And I think the things that I most regret were made younger than 18, so you wouldn’t be able to avoid them when you read this anyway. But it’s okay, because things get better, and you grow from the mistakes that you make. They do, even when things feel impossibly hard and the weight of the world seems to be crushing you. Things get better, because you remain optimistic and you always put in the work.
You love to be in control, so don’t let it send you into a tailspin when I tell you that the things in your life plan aren’t going to play out the way you plan them to. Trust that life, and other things, are going to work out even if they’re not going according to your plans. There is a reason that you can’t control everything, and I would say that most of the things that make me happy right now couldn’t have been planned. Nothing could’ve been planned, but there is the part of me that worked up to the point of being ready for these things, and that’s why I have them. They didn’t just happen in a new timeline or plan I made, but I worked hard to have the ability to treasure and nourish the most precious things and moments.
And yes, working hard is important, and having a good work ethic is important. These are things that have been instilled in you, but also don’t forget to take care of yourself and enjoy your life where you are. I remember caring about other people so much that I forgot about my needs and wants. It’s hard for you to enjoy a party because you’re too busy worried about what other people are thinking, when I have now learned that no one is really paying attention in the way you think they are. Don’t miss out on things out of the fear of looking stupid. There is so much life to live. I know it’s hard, but relax and let everyone see the real you. You might be shocked to learn that you had the confidence to invest in a boudoir photo shoot of yourself (in case you don’t know, it’s photos of you in sexy underwear, which might sound shocking, but you end up loving it). No one is going to care about the way you laugh enough to hate you, but people will be attracted to the energy of the authentic you who wants to sing every Fifth Harmony song.
Your passion is a beautiful thing, and that’s why you love seeing passion displayed in others. And you may think that you’re passionate about writing, but the truth that you should know is that the thing you’re passionate about is developing deep connections with people and the world. That’s what you’re truly passionate about, and you’re good at it, so never lose sight of that. Everything so far has been so amazing, and I know there is so much more to come for us.
Kristi of 2022