Dearest 2016 Alexandra Medeiros,
My dear, a lot has changed for you over the past twelve months. I can honestly say that this year has been both remarkably important and also incredulously devastating. You have become an adult! Yes, my lovely old self, you are eighteen years old and perhaps the more wiser for it (I hope, at least). After all, you had to the opportunity to participate in the most important election of the 21st century, and play your part as intelligently as possible, seeing as 46.7% of the population did not.
This (school) year also culminated in the most successful moment of your life thus far - you graduated high school. Congratulations! And you were accepted into a prestigious institution in which you will devote hundreds of thousands of dollars with the hope of leaving with a successful career (a bittersweet accomplishment to be sure). I almost forgot to mention that you began your new college experience this fall! You navigated the experience with whatever grace you could muster, meeting new friends, joining new groups, continuing to study your ass off; nonetheless you were glued to the 2016 Election Coverage. You became increasingly depressed with each new report of another unnecessary death of a young African American and you were enraged by the selfishness of those who propagated the Dakota Pipeline. You were foolishly surprised by the obvious lack of empathy for the fellow man which too many people were sharing with the world.
I can attest to the difficulty of reconciling the juxtaposition of managing great feats while feeling helpless and hopeless in the hell that was nearly everything outside your personal bubble. I have watched you go through it first hand. You have tried to write down your feelings in numerous mediums. You have blabbered nonsense rambling to friends in an effort to get months of confusion and heavy feelings off your chest. I am proud to know you care about the issues outside your window. However, I encourage you to be brave and take a more definitive stance on the things you believe in, unapologetically.
I understand that I cannot say much because, as the present you, I too have to follow my own advice. In fact, I guess this advice is for me: your 2017 self with the foresight you lacked to guide me. I know it can be hard to place oneself in a new situation with unknown consequences or results. I agree that it is easier to complain about what bothers you then to actively do something about it. Nevertheless, as I know you like I know myself, you will never be complacent with a nonaction philosophy. Therefore, Alex, please: attend a march for the protection of Planned Parenthood. Volunteer at homeless shelters and in underprivileged communities. Read, read, read! Learn about the beliefs and understandings of those you oppose in order to strengthen your own argument. But above all - do it because you have to, because if you don’t you will feel empty and helpless. Do it because it is the right thing to do, no matter the consequences.
And to all those who are struggling to come to terms with the aftermath of 2016, do not be afraid to take a (giant) leap of faith into a new year with infinite uncertainties. Without people like us, brave, young minds, to guide this country, who knows what the next four years (or more) may bring.
Sincerely and with great confidence,
Alexandra Medeiros, 2017 Edition