As 2016 comes to a close, I thought a good way to wrap things up would be to write a letter to 16-year old me – the Chandler who existed five years ago. I don’t do resolutions so this seemed like a cathartic, reflective way to end the year.
To myself, at 16 –
The first thing I would like to say to you is that I’m sorry. I failed you in a lot of different ways in your upcoming five years of growth. I encouraged you to hang out with people that bled you dry, I allowed you to be a doormat for everyone to use. I let you stop writing, drawing, reading. You distanced yourself from the people who would one day carry pieces of your soul and I said “Okay, go ahead”. I let you, with with your head full of dreams and a heart overflowing with trust, give everything I had to someone and then forget who I am. It will take five years for you to come back to yourself. I’m so sorry.
The second thing that I’d like to tell you is that you get resorted into Slytherin. I know, but are you surprised? Remember all the times where you thought “I’m such an oddly selective Hufflepuff, there must be more out there like me!” There are, they’re called Slytherins. The Sorting Hat did say that you’ll meet your true friends here, and he was (hopefully) right. Be yourself, don’t ever be ashamed to be quiet or have a dislike of crowds. Don’t ever feel like you have to trust everyone because it’s in your nature – you are allowed to turn toxic people away.
The third thing we need to talk about is that you don’t marry your first love. Before you get upset, let me tell you: it’s okay. I know it feels like you built a life around this person and then someone took a sledgehammer to all the walls, but that’s okay. You see, in a couple years you’ll end up with a man who you never expected to end up with. You are supposed to marry this person on September 9th, 2017. I’m not going to tell you who it is because you need some more time to learn and to grow. You’re going to get hurt really, really badly and it’s going to be like the world has stopped for a couple months. Trust me, you will continue to hurt some people, too. You, my most empathetic darling, are not without flaws. Here comes the silver lining, the liquid gold they use to fill the cracks – he’s wonderful. You already know him – he’s been so kind to you before. He comes with some problems, he’s had a difficult life, but he’s going to be your best friend. Some days, he’s going to break your heart, it will be good and ugly, and he’s going to propose in the most heart-achingly beautiful way. You will drive five hours to adopt a dog and name her after Mimi, because she is so perfect and you will never have to be alone as long as she’s around.
The last thing I want to tell you is that you will lose Mimi, your grandma. You will lose your soul-mate, your partner in crime. She will tell you for years that the two of you will open a bakery and then she’ll leave with an unknown condition and one last shuddering breath. Please be kind to her, when she’s gone you will have lost a parent. I know everything is about your friends right now, but who is a better friend to you than her? Bring Sammy over to the house more often, let her hang out with you and Mimi. Get your license and drive them to Dairy Queen. The loss of the person who introduced you to astrology and sewing will completely destroy you. Memories that you don’t want to revisit will haunt you at night and they’ll give you medication for the grief. Do you want to know a secret? I know the cure. Never, ever stop writing. You’re going to be a senior in high school with an English teacher who tells you that you’re one of the best she’s seen. She’s going to invite you back to read poetry that you wrote at midnight during a panic attack. You’re going to go to college (we’ll save that discussion for another day) and have four teachers bring tears to your eyes when they tell you that you should pursue writing. Hang out with Dad and Heather; have them read your work and give you feedback. Tell them that you love them and you’re grateful to be in their lives. Never stop carrying around a book. Bring colored pencils over to share with Jackson. Offer to babysit. You’re going to get over your fear of children when the world brings you Amelia, your niece, and you’ll wonder why no one has ever understood you more than a tiny girl with bright blue eyes.
I know that they say having an old soul is overrated, but its going to help you more than you know. Embrace forgiveness, but never forget. Practice compassion, but stand your ground. Understand now that you are the epitome of change and adaption. You will need to create in order to stop the overwhelming tide of life. Don’t drink and drive, do Mimi’s dishes, and give her a hug every single night.
Carry on, little one
The Book Witch (you, only more badass)