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A Letter to my Sixteen Year Old Self

School is back in session, one of my cousins is entering the 10th grade and changing schools all at the same time. The Sophomore was so nervous, so scared, so anxious, that on their first day of school they were visibly shaking. My heart sank when I was told of this, and I thought back to myself at that age, and my general experiences about high school—which weren't great, as I've talked about before. With that in mind, this week's column is going to be something different. This week I'd like to offer a letter to my sixteen year old self.

Dear Andy,

This is future Andy, the future is not all too different from where you are now. Everything is not covered in chrome, and we still have not invented a flying car. No clue if they are working on that, it's almost 2015 and hover boards are not a thing yet either. You're getting ready to start your second year of high school, let's talk about that, and being sixteen for a moment. Sixteen is such an interesting year for everyone, and it's going to be no exception for you. This year is will be a little different than your Freshman year, and that's OK.

I know that you've always felt a little out of a place, like you don't quite fit in with everyone else. These are feelings that are going to become a little stronger this year, but what you need to know is that there is nothing wrong with you. You are not abnormal, you are actually pretty awesome. You just don't have people in high school who will make you realize that. People are going to make fun of you, but that's nothing new. They'll make fun of you for your weight, the things you like, the movies you love, the music you listen to, and they'll make fun you for loving the things you love.

Don't internalize all of that. Don't use the hatred of confused people, who only want to follow what everyone else does, as a reason to hate yourself. They will only have these fours years as a time to be cheerful about, you're gonna have a whole life of cheer. They don't know how to react to someone who is so fully formed as an individual. That is why their only response will be hate. Don't listen to the teacher you're gonna have this year who wants to crush your dreams. Hold your dreams close, follow them, don't listen to what anyone else tells you. They're scared.

Don't worry about sports, it doesn't matter that it's not your thing. Socialize a little bit more, but not with people who make you feel bad about being you. It's OK to spend weekends alone watching movies, there's nothing wrong with that. Above all, while you navigate these years, realize that most the times you feel out of place or hurt is not your fault. Don't harbor on it, move on, and know that better things are coming. Quite possibly, get a copy of “This Year's Model” by Elvis Costello. You're gonna love that record, and it'll do you so much good having it now then when you find it 2 years later.

You will find that after school is when you begin to meet the people who truly understand you, and you'll find you're not as alone in the world as you feel. The reality is that you're not the crazy one for being yourself, everyone else is crazy for trying to copy everyone else. Remember this on the nights when it's tough.

Future Andy

 PS: Don't binge on McDonald's french fries each day after school, that's not great. OK?  


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