Dear 16-Year-Old Me...
Dear 16-year-old Samah,
Look at you! You’re sixteen now, an age you were dreading to reach after you saw a lot of sweet sixteen episodes on MTV nonstop. But it will not be as glorious as you think it will be. It will be just a normal day, one where you’re drenched in the hotness of August. But it was sufficient, trust me. You’re going to hate everyone around you because you didn’t get the attention you were seeking on your birthday, but later on, when you’re five years older, you’ll realise you got the attention you needed. You’ll realize later that birthdays are just a reminder of you getting older. Once you’ll hit twenty, you’ll want it to stop.
Before we have this conversation, I want to apologise. I’m sorry if I buried you deep inside me for years. I’m sorry because I felt ashamed of everything I had done because I was young and reckless and afraid. I’m sorry because I let you suffer alone in the darkness.
I might be almost twenty-one years old, which makes me five years older than you are right now, but don’t worry, you won’t turn into a typical twenty-something-year-old girl like your relatives. No, you’re not engaged or married as you were afraid to be, thank god! But you are way cooler.
Remember those friendships bracelets you made for your two best friends and the promise you all made to go sky diving once you lot are eighteen? It didn’t happen. They will stop caring once you become “too complicated” to deal with; they will make you feel bad about your struggles with mental illness. But it wasn’t their fault, they just didn’t understand and we tend to leave the things we don’t understand. Some friendships aren’t made to be forever, but the beauty of those friendships is that they will make you learn a lot of things. More than you can ever imagine.
You’re going to have a lot of heartbreaks. A lot. Each one is going to make you feel like you won’t be able to love again, but you will eventually. Stop looking for the one true love in guys around your age, or in any guy for that matter. You’re still young, love yourself first. Put yourself first.
The guy you like right now? He won’t matter and won’t stick along as he said. Actually, none of them will stick around. You will learn later that promises made while drunk in love or anger end up broken all the time. I’m not telling you to drop everything and lose everyone around because one day they won’t be here. I want you to enjoy it, have fun, and go on that date you are having second thoughts about because you’re afraid you will embarrass yourself again. He likes you just the way you are, and he doesn’t care if his friend likes you too and is ready to snatch you away from him. Tell him how you feel, share with him your worries and sadness and dark places, as you share your happiness and silly drawings and stupid love poems you write about him. It’s hurting him that you are not trusting him enough to be open to him. You did open up to him once when you told him about your sexual assault, and he didn’t judge. See? Then, tell him.
And please, don’t do it. I know exactly how you feel staring at your wrists. Don’t hurt yourself. It’s true you don’t look like any girl around you and you’re curvier than they are, but you’re beautiful. I truly regret not telling you this before, but you are. Don’t lock yourself in the bathroom because we both know what’s going to happen. Don’t skip your meals. Drink your water. I know how consumed you are by your demons, but don’t let them eat you up. You know what Dad told me three days ago? He said, “Don’t live alone with your sorrows, share them with us, as you share your achievement and happiness.” I wish he had told me that before.
Write your story, the one you keep in your small notebook away from everyone. Write it and share it online. If only you could know how happy it will make you in a few years. I want you to start right now. It doesn’t matter if it sounds silly or poorly written, it’s yours, and it’s not the last draft. You can always proofread it, which is something you should start doing with everything in your life. Remember, as long as you wake up the next day, you have a chance to proofread everything.
Don’t worry about your future. Don’t stress yourself with plans and hopes. Your future is going to be a surprise, and I’m not telling you anything. Spoilers, sweetie! All you need to know is that you would be proud seeing how far you’ve gone, how strong you’ve become. You have talents you never believed you had and they are going to show. You’ll meet people, great people who will love you dearly and are ready to do anything for you. You’re going to live outside your comfort zone, way outside. Trust me, I was surprised when I looked back at everything that I had done.
Lastly, I know how afraid you were to not make it past your twenties, afraid your demons would kill you young. But you have made it. This month, I’m going to be twenty-one years old. I’m getting older, something you were afraid of. I have my first grey hair because we both know how sick I am, and it’s so cool. Grey hair looks good on us.
I’m so glad we had this talk. I know you so well to know that you’re not going to care for a word I’m saying, but remember, I was there with you and I’m always here for you.