Dear Former Self,

I won't lie to you- you're not going to live an easy life, but you will live a meaningful one. There are so many words of wisdom that I wish I could pass onto you. I remember that I used to feel like such an outsider growing up. It got to the point that I felt that there was something wrong with me. And to a degree, I guess that was right. Not for the reasons that you think though. That will be clear soon enough. I leave a list of things that I choose to share with you. Not to change the destination that our life has taken, but to improve the journey.

1. It is okay to be different.

The world has become a place where everyone has a desperate need to "fit in". The individuals that have fallen victim to this misconception are like a tight pack of sardines with no meaningful destination. Creativity and originality are so rare nowadays. Embrace what makes you special, don't try to hide it. I have always struggled with the fact that I always felt so different from my peers, but then I realized it was a good thing. I still remember the day that I discovered that I loved creative writing. It was during seventh-grade English class. The teacher gave us a picture that we had to write a story about. My classmates just wrote basic stories that only scratched the surface of the picture, but I went much deeper. I painted a whole new world using only my words. I loved writing. I was hooked after that moment: I knew that there were so many different worlds that only I could create. Creative people are so hard to come across today because people are more concerned with fitting in than standing out. You're special, trust me.

2. Stick up for yourself.

I am all for telling an adult when you are getting picked on, but you also need to learn to fight for yourself. There will not always be someone there to protect you. To me, having someone fight your battles is like waiting around for someone to "save" you. That creates a false victim mentality that is only going to decrease your own self-worth. I am afraid that I have fallen victim to that myself. I was being bullied by some guy in high school- He would constantly pick on me. It even got to the point that he got my phone number and pranked called me. My guidance counselor got involved and he eventually left me alone, but that did not solve the problem. Someone else always come along. I thought that asking for help would make it go away, but I now know that they are not going to stop unless you defend yourself. It is all a game to them, and if you refuse to play, they will lose interest and move on. Sometimes, you have to save yourself, and that makes all the difference. Trust me, it is going to be difficult at first, but it will be worth it in the long run.

3. You will outgrow people.

I was under the false notion that you have to be friends with the same people your whole life. Luckily, that is not the case. People constantly grow and change, but not always together. It is possible to no longer have anything in common with someone you used to share so many interests with. It is even possible that you grew and your friend did not. I was very close with this one girl during the beginning of college. We were like two peas in a pod, we did everything together. Though, she did not attend college, so there was always that one thing that we did not have in common. College is a time for discovering yourself, and that is exactly what I did. I was really coming into my own. I started writing more and was eventually appointed president of the creative writing club. A normal person would be supportive and encourage me, but she did not. She tried to hold me back and made me feel bad about everything. To be honest, she was successful until I realized what she was doing. Since then, I have never looked back and I have accepted that not everyone is meant to be in your life forever.

4. Believe in yourself.

Everyone has something that they are talented at. I know that you think that you are not good at anything, but trust me, there is so much that you will accomplish. I have accomplished things that I have never dreamed possible. It took about twenty years for me to believe in myself. I always thought that there was nothing special about me. Sure, I loved writing, but nothing really amounted from it. That all changed during my junior year of college. I had a professor for my film writing class that was like no other teacher I had before: he challenged me and pushed me to my limits. The pressure was overwhelming at first, but I was able to adjust and wrote an entire screenplay in about three months. I was amazed by what I could achieve if I applied myself. I had it in me all along, but I needed to tap into it. Whatever you do though, do NOT compare yourself to others. It is tempting, but that does not determine your worth. Everyone excels in different areas, so it is an unfair comparison. Instead, celebrate your victories and set goals to improve your abilities.

5. Family comes first. Always.

I have left this one last because it is the most important of them all. I cannot stress enough how important family is. When I hit my lowest, our family was always there to love and support me. This is just one of the several examples that I could list: our cousin, Kristy, is one of the best people in my life. One of my favorite things about Kristy is that she supports anything that I do. She's like my own personal cheerleader. I also consider her my mentor. She always gives great advice and helpful tips, even in teaching when I can be considered competition for a job. She was always in the first row waving a sign during my English award ceremonies. She, along with the rest of our family, went to my college graduation in the pouring rain to support me. The rain was a bit of a downer at first, but I knew that with my family there, I had everything I needed. They were there for all of the good times, but they were also there for all of the tears. I know that you will hit a rough patch with everyone, but just remember that your family is human too. They are not perfect, just like you. Be patient and never turn your back on them. As Michael J Fox said, "Family is not an important thing. It's everything."