Dear me as a high school senior,
You once wrote a letter to the eighteen-year-old you when you were only 11. You had outlined your future goals to accomplish by 18 – in school, in love, with long hair, and a famous actress (?!). You were supposed to open the letter on your 18th birthday, but you couldn’t wait. You opened it earlier and felt a little sad that you hadn’t met your goals. You were still in school, obviously, because you were a senior in high school (funny how old 18 seemed as an 11-year-old), but your hair was still short (always has been, and I suspect, it always will be), and you had not yet been in love. You had transferred your acting dreams to writing, but still in that vague kind of way.
You spent much of your senior year stressed about college and applications and grades and wondering if you were good enough. You spent most of the time writing really bad poetry on scraps of paper and staring out windows with affected melancholy because you thought it made you somehow more interesting. I wish I could tell you that being aloof wasn’t the answer, but you will learn several years later the joy of engaging with all different kinds of people. At 18, you thought small talk was “trite.” You will learn that all talk is a way to connect and understand people.
You once spent an evening watching Tommy Boy and refusing to laugh because the movie was “pedestrian.” You had some strict ideas about what kinds of things were worth your time, and they generally included only movies based on literature or with corsets. I’m relieved to tell you that was just a phase. (Although, you would probably be ashamed at how much reality tv you end up watching.) But I wish you hadn’t wasted so much time taking yourself too seriously.
You are 18, and you desperately want to leave Utah and go to a small liberal arts college. So desperately that you turn down scholarships and take out loans to do so, only to discover it wasn’t what you really wanted after all. That’s ok. You are 18, and you will make mistakes. Let yourself explore new things and don’t define yourself before actually getting to know yourself. And guess what, you will continue to learn new things about yourself all the time.
Your older (but not wiser) self.