Dear Me,

I hope this letter finds you well, but knowing what I know now, I also know that it might not. Sixteen was a hard age for me to live through, and it will no doubt be equally as hard for you.

You think that the other kids in your class think you’re stupid because you can’t do your Calculus homework, and because you constantly say ‘I don’t know’ when the teacher asks you to answer a question. You think that choosing a dress for the junior prom is hard since your mom is hardly ever around. Or maybe you think that it's going to be so hard to apply for colleges when you have no idea how you're coming up with the money, even though you've applied to and been rejected from a bunch of minimum wage jobs.

These are all hard things to put into words. But the truth is, you’re not the first sixteen-year-old to go through this kind of stress, even though you think that you are. While these things seem like they’re so important to you right now, I need you to realize that these things are not important. Not at all.

Being worried about how you look and what other people think of you might always be things you struggle with, but in the next five years, you will go on to do so many things that show you exactly how much you are worth.

In the next five years, you will go from a young girl to a young woman in the blink of an eye. You will start living on your own and being responsible for yourself. You’ll learn to drive and buy your first car. You’ll get into college. You’ll meet some new people, and stay close to old friends too. You’ll score your first gigs beyond retail and food service. You’ll treat everyone you know with respect and decency until they give you a reason not to. You will be the one your friends go to for all their “grown-up” advice. You will give your parents strength in the rough times that they both have ahead.

And along with all of those things, you might even notice that some of the best things you do are those that you actually won’t do. You won’t hold onto old grudges. You won’t stay silent about things that bother you. You won’t let anyone tell you that you are not capable of doing the things you want to do. You won’t stop trying to explore the wonderful world around you. You won’t stand for people treating you like you don’t matter. You won’t stop trying to improve your skills or stop trying to prepare yourself for what lies ahead.

The problems that you may have to deal with at sixteen only seem big because these are the only problems you're saddled with right now. They will not continue to consume your world as an adult. I can’t exactly tell you that you will never experience other hardships, and I certainly won’t tell you that things will be easy. But what I can vouch for is that the next step of your life will absolutely prepare you for anything that will be thrown your way. In the next five years, you'll learn to care less about what others think of you and listen to yourself first.

I can also tell you that the GPA you have right now does not reflect you. Neither does the dress you wore one time to a dance, and neither does being rejected in any capacity. Anyone who says otherwise can kick rocks. Do you, and do it well.