Dear Little Dougie,

It’s been a while, about 12 years to be exact. I understand that it might be inconvenient for you receiving this letter at a very emotional time in your life. However, you will learn that there are much worse and even better things in the coming future.

What you saw on the bus the other day was one of the hardest days of your life. She was beautiful, wasn’t she? You know, that girl. Her smile touched all the corners of the world and still came back in time just to say, "I love you." When she kissed you, it was something that you’ve never felt before. It was almost a dream. You never really cared that she was taller than you or that she was one of the most popular girls in the third grade. All that mattered was that she sat next to you on the bus (a GIRL sat next to you, oh my god) and was willing to love you for who you are. However, when she kissed another boy, you never knew exactly what was going on.

At. All.

The fact that you are EIGHT YEARS OLD WITH A GIRLFRIEND never helped either. Yet, you felt your heart drop so low that it drilled through the Earth’s crust and exploded at the core. The worst part? You still had no idea what was going on. She then came to you the next day and told you it was all over. You knew that already and you still apologized. You still forgave her. You still waved to her in the hallway. Why?

Well, you remembered what Momma Dukes taught you: kindness, forgiveness, appreciation, and love. These things have saved your life, and will continue to save your life for years to come.

Within the next few years, you’ll realize that life will get a lot harder. Middle school happens, and you won’t like it.

At. All.

You’ll keep having crushes. Your crushes will keep denying you. Your awkwardness will still be there (it will never go away, trust me). You’ll be in the principal’s office your first year there and burst out in anger in English class the next. Seventh grade is a lost memory and eighth grade is okay, but no more than that.

Although these negative issues are apparent throughout your middle school saga, your friends (old and new) will always have your back no matter what. You’re also a really damn good soccer player and that’ll help you IMMENSELY. The most important thing you need to do is remember the same thing mom preached to you at home. Kindness, appreciation, forgiveness, and love.

Once high school and college come, I can honestly say that these will be the toughest and best years of your entire life. No, it won’t be like "High School Musical." Nope, you still won’t be able to keep a relationship. Yes, you’ll get cheated on about two more times. Your best friend, unfortunately, will not have long to live. You’ll fail your driving exam before passing it (you'll also hate driving in Garden City after that). You’ll be miserable in a three-story library trying to pass Calculus 1 (you know math is the devil’s nectar).

However, you’ll be able to go out more, travel around the country and the world, and explore. You’ll meet some of the most important people in your life, for good or for worse. Your grades will be at all time highs. You’ll also realize that you’re pretty talented and start winning awards and medals.

Outside of relationships, almost everything will go just right if you keep working like a madman EVERY SINGLE DAY. Education is your biggest weapon. Use it, master it, and you'll go farther than any place you've gone before.

I know it’s kinda scary that it’s you sending yourself this letter, but don’t fret. Believe in yourself and no matter what obstacle is in your way, you’ll overcome all odds.

By the way, remember that aquarium trip you took the summer before 3rd grade? Make sure you thank yourself later for that. And trust me, you’re stronger than you even realize. You don’t even know.

At. All.