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Dear 16-year-old me, this is the year you find out how to be happy

Jul. 21, 2017
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Dear 16-Year-Old Me,

Damn, this year is going to be so tough and so great all at the same time, you aren’t even ready. This is the year that you spend months so insanely depressed, you can’t even get out of bed. This is the year that your best friend abandons you while you’re slogging through that depression. This is the year where you feel lost and alone and wonder if it’s all worth it. But this is also the year that you meet your real best friends and learn what it means to be truly happy. 

So: depression. It’s awful. It feels never ending and overwhelming and you feel empty and so unbearably sad and stressed and just not yourself. It’s hard. It’s so, so hard. It’s something that is so hard to even begin to understand if you’ve never gone through it. I will explain it as best as I can without sounding too melodramatic: you feel like you’re drowning in the air you could breathe so easily a week ago. Somehow you’re drowning and on fire and made of stone all at once. It’s confusing and difficult and you have moments where life just doesn’t seem worth it. But you will learn that it is worth it. That happens later, though. Hold out for it; it’s worth the painful wait. The lows may seem so low right now, but it makes the highs so much higher later on. 

Oh, yeah, and not only does the depression suck, but your best friend of five years is now not checking in on you or even seeming to care about you at all. That hurts you, but you’re kind of in too much of your own self-inflicted pain to really grasp what’s going on with that. You have been drifting away from her for months already and have been realizing that maybe that friendship was actually a lot more toxic than you realized. You find amazing people later in the year, just you wait. I promise you, the hell you go through in the first half of this year is so, so, so worth it.

This is the year you meet your real best friends. And, yes, that’s friends (plural): you may have lost one best friend this year, but you gained a whole little family’s worth of best friends. Your family of friends is the best thing to happen to you. They are passionate, beautiful, intelligent, caring, wonderful people. You get to be surrounded by people who are driven and smart and truly, truly kind, and it impacts you in wonderful ways. You learn how to be a better friend by having such good ones. You have a lot to look forward to with these people. Scream-singing along to all your favorite songs in the car, staying up late talking and laughing with all of you cramped onto one bed, going to parties, going to lunch, going to school even becomes enjoyable with these people. 

You might be depressed for a part of this year, but the rest of it, you find out how to be happy. You learn a lot this year: how to ask for what you want, how to remove yourself from a toxic relationship, how to be a really truly good friend, how to care about yourself and others equally instead of putting others first always. It’s a weird year. It’s miserable and wonderful all at once—the epitome of adolescence.

Happy sweet sixteen, you! It’s a bittersweet year: you will cry a LOT; you will laugh a LOT. You’re in for a wild ride.

Much Love,

17-Year-Old You