Dear Lucy (age 7),

You are young and bright and entering second grade at a brand new school. It's scary now I know, but I promise you will make some of the best friends you'll ever have, and you'll meet people that you will cross paths with again later in your life. Switching schools is nerve-wracking and uncomfortable, but it's best to get used to it now because it's going to happen again in a few years. But right now, you are entering this new school with a positive mindset and the drive and passion for doing great things. Keep doing those great things.

The admiration you have for learning new things and meeting new people is your greatest strength, so never lose sight of your desire to learn. Right now, it feels easy to make friends, and you do make a lot of friends. When you grow older, don't let the fear of what others think of you hinder this ability that you have already mastered as a 7-year-old. I guarantee that you will want to change things about yourself and about your environment in order to fit in, but remain true to who you are, and only then will you find your real friends.

You are already very confident and certain of who you are, and you are so carefree; don't allow anyone to dull your confidence or invade your happiness because, believe me, people will try, but do not under any circumstances allow them to succeed.

Your hair is straight now, but in a few years, it will become very very curly. Embrace it; don't straighten it, braid it, or brush it like I have done too many times - it is one of the biggest things that makes you who you are, and you'll soon find a love for your unruly, messy ringlets. Also, keep wearing different colored socks. You've been doing it since you could put socks on without help, so why stop now? These little quirks make you who you are - don't hide them away, accept them and show them off to the world.

I know you hate your brother right now, and that hatred will go on for a long time. The hair pulling and the screaming matches will continue, but don't tell him you wish you had a sister (and mean it). He has feelings too and he's sometimes going to be the only person you have. Don't take for granted the time you have with him now because soon he'll be gone away at college and you'll miss him more than you ever thought you could.

You just got a dog! Love her with all you have, give her long walks, treat her to meat when she's being good, and don't forget about all that she does for you. Though she's just an animal, you will grow very attached very quickly and she deserves the best love and treatment that you could give her. Make sure to spend all the time you can get with her because she isn't going to be around for as long as you wish she could be. Love your dog, always.

But most importantly, love yourself. As you mature and school gets harder, you will find that it's much harder to focus, to work in class, to do homework, and to function like you used to. You will encounter mean people everywhere you go and you will always take mean things to heart (you're very sensitive and, well, you still are). Don't let any one person bring down your positive outlook on life and don't allow negative, cocky people make you feel as though you are below them. Don't buy clothes just because everyone else has them, don't listen to music just because everyone else likes that song, and don't become someone who you aren't to prove that you're like everyone else. You won't always fit in everywhere, but that's okay. Don't let not fitting in affect how you view yourself. You are someone very special, and don't let anyone else take that away from you.

Remain happy, humble, and kind amongst any circumstance, and you will find that the bright future you have ahead of you will be rewarding and extremely worth it.

Sincerely,

Lucy (age 17).