Dear younger me,
I remember you. I remember that you never had to worry about what tomorrow had in store. You marched around with your head held high and had absolutely no fears (except one of tornadoes, maybe--you really shouldn't have watched that movie with mom and dad, you were too young for that).
I remember that you felt like you had everything.
Then everything started to change. Your closest friends moved to different cities and you lost touch. You moved schools often and struggled to make lasting friendships in each school. You kept your head down, trying not to draw attention to yourself, and blindly followed your classmates around just to make sure you wouldn't get lost. You always made sure you could see at least two of your classmates around because no one would notice if you were missing on a school trip or on the lunch line.
That was rough, wasn't it?
After 4 elementary school transfers, you finally ended up making friendships that lasted into middle school. You stopped feeling like the "new girl" who had no friends, and once again became the "happy friend." Every day was a happy day. You would make jokes with your friends, throw yourself across their laps while laughing your lungs out, and make a fool out of yourself just to make a smile appear on their faces.
The sad part is that you ended up trusting too quickly, loving too wholeheartedly, and changing your personality based on who you were with. You ended up with a knife in your back and a large, gaping hole in your heart. It was an emptiness you couldn't identify. An emptiness that had you crying rivers late into the night.
But most importantly, it was an emptiness no one could fix. I know that because… well, it continues to live on in me right now.
As you grew older, you began to resent yourself more with each passing day. You felt like nothing you did was enough. You'd get your exams and assignments back and scrutinize yourself for not getting a higher grade. You'd endlessly replay conversations you had that day in your head, wondering how you could have improved the way you responded to or approached someone.
Every night when you got home, you would look into the mirror and found tear-stained eyes, only ever seeing a face that hasn't worn a genuine smile in a long time.
Spoiler alert: I still struggle with the same things as you. I'm in college now, but change is still as scary as it was when we were 8 and clinging onto the back of our mom's seat in the car, wailing and begging our parents not to transfer us to a new school right when we felt like we had finally adjusted to our current one.
It was just a tiny bit bearable this time because I ended high school doing Zoom calls in our room and started college that same way.
Let me tell you, though, don't give up on yourself. If change decides to derail your life again, just know that you'll be okay. Give yourself time to get used to it, and adjust at your own pace. You'll meet so many amazing people as you go on. You will be surrounded by people who inspire you to grow and become a better person. You'll find better people who you can rely on and share genuine laughs with. (I promise! I'm literally writing this letter after having a virtual game night with some of the people you'll meet when you get to college, and I can already tell that they're all really amazing!)
But, girl, please stop trying to switch personas every time you encounter a new face!
If you feel like you're free-falling and have nothing concrete to hold onto, hold onto hope. Hold onto the hope that things will even out and get better one day, and do everything you can to hold on to your positive perspective on life.
I hope that one day, we'll be able to let go of the fears and trauma from our past and bring only the lessons we've learned from them into our future.
With lots of love,