You are 17, starting your senior year, and you think you are ready for the world. In a lot of ways you are, but I don’t think anything can prepare you for the life that you are about to live. Life will not go as you planned, because, let’s face it, you have had your life planned since you were a child, and while that is a nice thing to think about, reality rarely works according to plan. And it is actually a beautiful thing that your life did not go as you planned. Don’t panic. It’s okay. I promise, it will be okay.
At 17 and you are loving high school. You have great friends, and you will continue to make wonderful memories. But even though you think you are fine, you are still recovering from an eating disorder. You will be fine, but you have to learn to trust yourself. You have to learn to trust others. You’ve lived a long time without really feeling love from or trust in your family, but you are learning who you want to be by watching what you don’t want to be. You haven’t had the greatest examples in your life, but use those to drive you towards something better. And believe me, there are so many better things that await you. It will take a while and it will be difficult, but those lessons, those really hard lessons, are the ones that will mean the most to you.
You will learn that in the absence of family to rely upon, your friends will become your family. They will be there for you through everything. They will celebrate your college graduation with you, your marriage to the most wonderful man, and the birth of your beautiful children with you. They will celebrate your children with you, and your children will love them. They will celebrate the joys and be there for the sadness. And you will do the same for them. You have the best of friends, and twenty-six years later, they will still be your best friends.
Because it is through your friends that you have learned how truly important it is to be kind. You have learned how to serve and give of yourself. And you will pass that on to those around you. You will help people overcome their own demons and show them that anything is possible. They will see the person standing in front of them has overcome more than they know. Your past will give you confidence that you can handle anything. You will learn that you can’t save everyone, but you will save yourself and will make a difference in the lives of people around you.
Most importantly, know that you will create the family you never had as a child. You will teach them kindness and love, and they will never doubt your love for them. You will love more than you ever thought possible, and you will be loved more than you ever imagined you could be. You will create a life worth living, and you will know that happiness is not the end goal. Happiness is the life you choose to live.
Be happy. Always,
Kathy (your 44 year-old self)
(Kathy Gustad: English Teacher)