Updated: Dec 2, 2020
As International Women's Day wraps up, I can't help but think about being a teenager and how I would constantly wonder about the woman I would one day become. I would ask myself hundreds of questions, ranging from what kind of career I would have to how I would style my hair. I was never sure what the future had in store for me.
I asked people on social media about the women they are celebrating. Of course, I am celebrating all of the most important women in my life: my mom, sister, grandmother, close friends, the littles. But most importantly: I celebrate that teenage girl. She deserves it more than anything.
I wanted to draw something that reminded me of, well, me when I was younger. I wanted create a picture of fascination and vulnerability, fear and potential. Adolescence was a time of extreme contradictions for me; I never felt right. If I could have told myself everything would be okay, I think I would have been a lot better off. (Not that there weren't a lot of adults already telling me that. I just didn't want to listen to them, in particular. There was no way they could understand what I was going through. /sarcasm.)
So here is my letter to 17-year-old me and all the things I wish that I could tell myself then:
Dear Kt (you'll later change that back to Katie, by the way) --
People are going to tell you a lot of things about your adult life. Some of it is complete bullshit. You don't have to have a four-year degree to be successful. Money can be made through the arts. Falling in love doesn't take forever.
And some of it happens to be (painfully) true: you won't always get what you want; people can be assholes for no reason and you'll never get an explanation. It's harder than it looks. You aren't as wise as you think you are. Money does, in fact, dictate pretty much everything.
With all that being said, regardless of your lack of wisdom and experience, you are still a phenomenal kid and you are going to shape your future into a beautiful life (even when you fuck up a little. Okay, a lot. Don't worry. We get it right eventually.)
You don't need to fret about the way you look; you are beautiful. Quit plucking your eyebrows and don't listen to people when they say shitty things about your body. You are unbelievably strong. That body of yours will eventually go through a great deal of trauma and if it weren't for what you are doing now, you probably wouldn't make it. Who cares if you are thicker? Embrace it.
Don't take your gifts and talents for granted. Sing every moment; create often. Share your ideas. Allow yourself to feel pain when it comes. Let go of things that don't serve you. Start your healing work now. You are going to meet people that will need your help healing, too, so you can't be wallerin', as Mom would say.
You are worthy of love and affection, and you don't need to seek it out from other places because there is a lot of pain coming from home. Don't argue with Dad, be sweeter to Mom, and go visit Memaw and Papaw more often. Things change in an instant; we don't live with regret. Don't start now.
You'll miss home when you leave, but you'll find bits and pieces of it in many people. Always chase that feeling. Trust your gut, love fiercely, and go into this new world as bravely as you always have. You are worthy of this wonderful, wild thing we call life.