A Letter to My Sixteen Year-Old Self

by Bailey Powell

Oh, good heavens.

Dear Sixteen Year-Old Self,

The world’s got me dizzy again. You’d think after 23 years I’d be used to the spin. Just kidding! Not about the Bright Eyes part, you’ll still appreciate Conor Oberst’s lyrical talent well into your 20s, but good news!: You won’t be as contemplative, melodramatic, or as generally bummed out in 2012 as you are now. Anyway, mistakes are worth making in the name of growing up and having fun, but I’d be lying if I said there weren’t a few things I wish you knew back in 2005.

I know you think you’re a real hard knock staying out in Dallas smoking cigarettes at hardcore shows til 1am. It’s cute because afterward you’ll drive your brand new car back to your crime-rate-zero neighborhood where your parents are still together, drive a suburban, enjoy expensive sandwiches, and hold fiscal responsibility in high regard. You’re not better than anyone and you’re not as cool as you think, but this time of your life is not to be undervalued. Maintain your multifaceted friendships and your social chameleon-ism as it will prove beneficial in the future. The best kinds of people are the most self-aware. Know and appreciate where you come from and continue to do your best to take in and understand every person you find yourself in the company of.

You will still think The Smiths and Bright Eyes are dope when you’re 23, but go ahead and get a head start on your 18 year-old self and jam Dipset, Screwed Up Click, and UGK now. Stop listening to The Bled, As I Lay Dying, and Every Time I Die. It’s embarrassing that you have a CD collection chock full of death motifs and you’re serious about it, so try to save some face.

Despite how real and final it feels right now, the boy you’re with is not the one and in a couple of years you will be heartbroken to a crippling degree. This isn’t the last time you’re gonna feel this way about a guy and no matter how difficult that is to keep in mind I promise it gets better. This entire process is a necessary romantic relationship rite of passage. Keep your chin up and remember there are worse things in life.

Friends are gonna betray you and exit stage right, again something else that hurts, but more fitting ones will take their place. Be kind to them. After all, they do put up with you. You will also mess up friendships by careless actions. This is a part of growing up and the natural ebb and flow of human relationships, so learn from your mistakes, humble yourself and apologize, and move on. Don’t say things about people that you wouldn’t say to their face or that you know you wouldn’t like said about you. Think positively, give the benefit of the doubt, and radiate sincerity. Watch your friendships flourish.

Capri 120s are gross and straight out of 1984, but if you must smoke them don’t do it in your car. You might or might not burn a hole in your upholstery at the Starbucks drive through- talk about a(n old lady cigarette) buzz kill.

You’re right in thinking that the rest of high school will not look like a John Hughes movie, but soak it up while you can because it’ll be gone in a flash. Get involved in as many things as you’re able to, and although you think the broody pensive persona is a good look on you reach out to people and be unabashedly kind. Every person deserves to be on the receiving end of kindness and it is something you’ll never look back on and regret giving.

Quick tips: Wear a bra. The grunge look doesn’t work on you so shower regularly. You cannot and never will be a blonde, so put down the peroxide. Burn the pictures of you with the poorly executed Cruella DeVille hair coloring and never let your friends dye your hair again. Don’t let your friends drive drunk- in 2006 and 2007 you will have a grim look as to why this is so important. Have patience with your mom and dad, they only have your best interest in mind.

Finally, this is the year Mrs. Hamilton is your English teacher. Hang on her every word as she is the one who will teach you how to write.


Twenty-Three Year-Old Self