This is a letter to myself ten years ago when I was 13 turning 14.
I know exactly what you’re feeling right now. Eighth grade was a beast. You transferred in and the school never seemed to be the right fit for you. The teachers were good enough but you never seemed to fit in. You were just trying to keep old friends close though and no one can blame you for that. When you start high school in a few months, it’ll seem much of the same. There will still be bullies and you will be fighting with yourself over how important those old friends are.
Let me tell you that you will make some incredible friends. The pain and stress that trying to hold onto the past causes you now will not last forever. The friends you will gain this year will last you forever. You’ll meet Bree, to start, who even when she moves across the country you’ll still make sure to talk to at least once a week. She and the other friends you make will change your life for the better.
I know friends aren’t the only thing you’re worried about. Boys.
You’ve reached that age where it seems like everyone is dating. Trust me, rarely do those middle school and high school relationships last. Don’t worry about it. To be honest, you’ll have one blah relationship in high school and then nothing until your sophomore year of college. The first boyfriend won’t do you any damage, trust me. You’ll be the heart breaker in that one. When you talk to a mutual friend a few years after you break up with him, he’ll tell you how you were the one who got away. It’ll give you a confidence boost but still leave you longing for more.
By sophomore year of college you’ll have had a minor romp with an international student– if you can even call it that. You’ll get your first real long term boyfriend who you won’t see often. You’ll text and once every seven months see each other. You tell yourself that you love him. You’ll fight for this relationship over and over, pushing away friends you had made for him. Don’t do this. Never let a boy come between you and your friends. Especially when, in the end, he’ll gaslight you and cheat on you– only to say that you’re the one who cheated. To be honest, maybe you emotionally cheated on him. You looked towards old friends for the things you weren’t getting. Not that that excuses anything and makes how that one ended any different.
After three years of that relationship, you’ll be on your own again. When someone asks you about what happened, you give short answers because you don’t feel like reliving those memories. They hurt too much but only because you were together for so long. You start to question everything about yourself because of that one asshole. While you’re alone, you’ll try Tinder and Bumble (dating apps) to try and just meet new people. You have no intention of finding anyone or dating anyone you find.
You meet a couple of interesting people but after a little while, you’re ready to just give up and be single for some time. And then you meet Tim. You agree to meet up at a local bar for drinks. You two hit it off immediately. After that one date you end up seeing each other every day for a week. Suddenly, you aren’t questioning yourself any more. You feel happier than you have in years. Shit. Looks like you did find someone.
A year later, you’re still with him. Things aren’t perfect. You have your ups and downs. You’re still happier than you were before. But things end. One night after a rough weekend, mental health and the need to work on oneself will out weigh all of the good that is this relationship. Unlike the last time, this one doesn’t feel like an ending. In fact, it feels like an interlude. It feels like there’s still something coming. You cry. You never cry but he makes you cry. And he cries too. This is more painful than you could have imagined. You will be fine though. Eventually.
Sam, you will end up happy in time. Things do get better, although I know how cliche that sounds. They won’t be perfect. You’ll figure out over time about anxiety and depression. You’ll have doctors ignore you when you try to get help. You won’t be alone though. Ever. Being a teenager sucks but you do make it.
Stay strong, kid.
-Sam, age 23