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Monday, February 20, 2012

A Letter to High School Me

Dear High School Me:

You were right about some things, but wrong about most of them, and you spent way too much time being melodramatic and obsessive. As an adult, you're still that way, but on a more functional level, and by the time you're in your fifties, you might be a normal person.

I'm writing to you today because you spent most of high school assuming you would not out live Kurt Cobain. As of a few months ago, this was officially false, but since today is his birthday, I've decided to address it.

I've also decided to address a few other things: You didn't die because that boy didn't like you. In fact, eventually, you did realize that boy was a HUGE loser and not worth of any of the emotions you wasted on him. He wasn't funny or attractive or that bright. But he was - most importantly - unavailable. This will become a recurring theme in your life. Being attracted to unavailable men so you don't ever actually have to get involved with them, and therefore, in some deluded way, you think you risk never getting hurt.

This is false. The only way to avoid hurting is to not care about anybody at all, and you care about everybody. So you're going to hurt. Let's just save you the trouble right now of trying to avoid pain or thinking there's something wrong with feeling pain: Life is very painful But not all the time. If you accept the pain and deal with it, you'll find much more happiness than if you spend the whole time avoiding it.

But you know what, now that I think about that - you don't go after unavailable guys because you want to get hurt. You do it because you know it will. You know that they'll reject you. Your self-esteem is so ungodly ridiculous that you only go after people that will reaffirm it - meaning people that will reject or will treat you like shit. This is not an enjoyable way to live life. At all.

On a related note, many of your boyfriends will turn out to be gay. I feel like you should establish better gay-dar. This will also be helpful. I think deep down you know that they're gay, because you were never really that attached to them, but it would just save time for everybody if you stopped dating gay men.

Also - those kids you're trying really hard to be cool for to impress, they are dickholes. They are all dickholes. Ten years later, none of those dickholes even talk to you. The friends that you've kept and made long term were the ones you thought you were too cool for. Now you have to spend the rest of your life making it up to them for being such an asshole in high school. Again, it would save so much time if you just avoided being an asshole in the first place.

And another thing, High School Me, you're not the center of the universe. Assuming that everyone hates you is incredibly narcissistic. Everybody else around you is too worried about their own shit to even notice you, let alone care about you or what you're doing. The sooner you realize that, the more fun you'll have. 

Also, you should do your schoolwork more. There's absolutely no reason to do an assignment, and then not turn it in. Who the hell does that? Why did you do that? You got a D in history because you never did a damn assignment but aced all the tests. Why would anybody do that? If you know the shit, do the work, and move on. You could've gotten scholarships. And even if you didn't, you would've felt more pride in yourself and the things you did.

That's your big problem, High School Me. You gave up before you even started. You'd decided that everything in life was going to be pain and miserable, so you just sat around sulking for four years (more like... eleven years) and obsessing over dead people and grunge and people that didn't care about you to affirm your own life view that everybody hates you and that life is misery.

Fun fact, High School Me: Life isn't misery. It's really not. Sometimes it sucks. Sometimes things happen that you have no control over that hurt really, really bad. And yes, those things weren't your fault, but you can't spend the rest of your life assuming you're damaged or that you deserved that. You can't spend the rest of your life being hurt because that's how you think life is supposed to feel.

If you want to know the truth, High School Me?  I'm angry at you. I'm angry at you for wasting time when we should've been having fun. It's not until you're in your early twenties that you have a nervous breakdown and figure out that nothing is hard or as painful as you thought it was. You were making it that way in some kind of self-fulfilling prophecy.

You cannot control everything that happens to you. But you can control how you react to it and how you feel about it.

I'm mad at you and Kurt Cobain for thinking suicide is ever an option. It's lame. It's seriously so lame. I am still so young, there's so much stuff I still want to do, and so much joy I still have to experience. And High School Me, you are a god damn idiot for thinking that I would be done by now. That life had already shown me everything it had to offer by the time I was sixteen.

The point is, High School Me, you have the potential to be happy, to have fun, to love and be loved in return. And I am still so angry with you for wasting it, for wasting so many years of my life thinking that suicide was an option. Not only that it was an option, but a probability. You never tried at anything because you thought you'd be dead by now.

You were so ignorant and so wrong. And I wish more than anything I could have those years back, that I could usually them to do something. Because unlike you, High School Me, I want as much time on this earth as I can possibly have.

59 comments:

  1. very cathartic writing that I bet? I think there are many of us who share the same feeling about our former selves that you have for your own.

    If only... *sigh*

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  2. "You cannot control everything that happens to you. But you can control how you react to it and how you feel about it."

    *nods*

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  3. I feel the exact same way. So much of what you just wrote, well, it feels like I wrote that note to myself. If only I would've had the insight I have now back then.

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  4. This is sorta the same letter I would've written to my Middle School and High School Self. I'm glad your outlook on life is so much better, Amanda!

    Keep doing what you're doing cause it places smiles on hearts and faces.

    P.S. Kurt Cobain rocks (ed)!

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  5. Great letter! I felt and feel much the same way. Also, I had four gay boyfriends, so you're not the only one whose gaydar needed an adjustment. :)

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  6. Don't be angry with High School You. She went through a lot of stuff and learned a lot of lessons to make you who you are today, and I and lots of others think you're pretty great. I think it's good that you got this out because -- trust me -- 10 years from now you won't remember High School You as well as you do now. And unless you let go of your anger at High School You now, then 10 years from now you'll be writing a similar letter to 20-something you about how much time you wasted being angry :)

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  7. Thanks . . . from me and from more than a few others who needed to hear it.

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  8. Wow, I remember being the exact opposite back in high school: a loner, the student who never got into trouble or sought out unnecessary drama. Don't think that anyone who has a converse experience has it easy, however; we would kind of be two extremes were we to go through high school again in these conditions. Eh.

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    1. I was incredibly quiet and shy in high school. I was very melodramtic emotionally, but I don't think I acted it out very much. I didn't start drama, because I didn't want people to notice me, because if they noticed me, they would notice what a loser I was. I didn't get in trouble, either. I just sat quietly in the corner, writing in my notebook.

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  9. Great blog... Very honest. I often wish I knew then what I know now... But that's what life is all about. I wouldn't have believed me if I had gotten a letter like this from my future self. As teenagers, the little things feel like the weight of the world, and nothing else matters. I think that's the lesson we are supposed to learn at this point -- you have to accept that stuff happens, the little things are just opportunities to grow.

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  10. If this letter is really to your High School You, I can't help but chime in here to defend her - no matter what her thoughts were and how much time she may or may not have wasted, it's hard to stay angry at the person who gave us Now You. You're so awesome and so young that you can afford to have wasted a few years being an idiot.

    I wasted 5 years of my post High School life going to church. Pentecostal Christian. The things I said... *shudders*. But time went by, we grew up, we learned. Church Me went to hell. I'm sure Church Me inadvertently gave me the awesome life of sin I lived afterwards without meaning to, so I can't stay angry at her. But I'd still write her a letter making fun of her and telling her YOU SUCK, Church Me!

    Can we have an Amanda convention? Cause I think I really, really like you.

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  11. Thank you for sharing.

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  12. I have no regrets about what I did or who I was friends with in High School. I loved every minute of it and I redeemed myself later in life. I only say this because I wish you felt the same. But also because I love telling people how I feel about things. You're incredible and I love you.

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  13. I have no regrets about what I did or who I was friends with in High School. I loved every minute of it and I redeemed myself later in life. I only say this because I wish you felt the same. But also because I love telling people how I feel about things. You're incredible and I love you.

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  14. I was do shy and quiet in high school and only ever went for unavailable guys. I think most people regret high school years and wish for a do-over to get those years back, but the issues we dealt with back then were probably some of the most important life lessons we will ever have.

    Don't regret the years that were lost, but remember the teachings and experience you gained from them. Live in the present, not the past. :)

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  15. thank you for your bold honesty! i would have no idea, from looking at your story now, that your high school days were as you described. a great message and you've come a long way! you should write more about what happened in your 20s that made you change your attitude. I'd be curious to hear it! Thanks again!

    -Danielle

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  16. Wow! This is such a great “note to self”. I think I’d also add to my 17 year-old self, “Stay scrappy. You’re gonna need every bit of feisty steam you’ve got for the next 16 years.” Thank you for this beautiful, raw glimpse into your human evolution, Amanda. It’s very inspiring and courageous!!

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  17. How brave of you to address your Highschool Me. I dont know if I could do it. That being said, my Highschool Me had a faulty gaydar too. It didnt really start working until about two or three years ago.

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  18. I had a similar moment of realisation two weeks ago. I think the important thing is that we grow from our past.

    If you hadn't made all those choices, you wouldn't be "you" today.

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  19. It was as if this letter was written to me! Thank you for that! That was such a great letter to yourself kuddos for that!!

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  20. Dear Amanda,
    you should be happy you're feeling some kind of regrets. Crisis is a word tha involves growing. Now that you've obtained such a large economic success, I think you can make a reassessment of your life. Writing included.
    Stop writing if it seems that it's a waste of time. Try to concentrate on your priorities. Take care of your fitness and your body shape. Try to catch a man worthy of living with you for the rest of your life.
    Our talent is not writing but trying to be happy, helping our families and people around us. Every life is unique: don't take care of the single steps in your journey, forget them. Concentrate on the direction.
    Sorry for my suggestions and my poor english.
    Best wishes.

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  21. Well put. If we only knew then what we know now.

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  22. If only I'd had enough insight in high school to understand why I always wanted the unavailable guys! Amanda, you and I are almost exactly the same age (within a month of each other) and I've often looked up to you for motivation and inspiration, but today's post hit home for me on an emotional level too, and I very much relate. Thanks. :-)

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  23. I think most of us would like to go back and talk sense into our younger selves. I'd also like to blow my own mind by telling me about the future.

    I'm a few, more than a few, years older than you, and I can say you can't rush learning your lessons. You weren't ready to have the wisdom of 2012 Amanda, you weren't there.

    You are still so young, though, and you've grown so quickly. From where I'm standing, there isn’t much you should regret, and you’re probably one of the most successful people in your graduating class – not only for the acclaim, but because you’re doing something you love.

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    Replies
    1. I just saw this Christina Hendricks article that I think really relates to your post.

      http://www.mirror.co.uk/3am/celebrity-news/christina-hendricks-on-her-emergence-as-a-sex-icon-688867

      Delete
  24. I love this. And I'm thankful that you shared it.

    I have some choice words for High School Me as well. Remarkably, they sound very similar to yours. Except for the gay-dar part - I didn't have any dates in high school, let alone gay ones. That would have been an improvement, lol.

    You're where you are now because of the choices you've made. They weren't always happy or easy decisions, but it sounds like you've come a long way to being the person that you want to be. I think most people can identify with that. Good on Now You. ;)

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  25. Ohhh man. Half of this letter could have been written to me. Especially this part: "You didn't die because that boy didn't like you. In fact, eventually, you did realize that boy was a HUGE loser and not worth of any of the emotions you wasted on him. He wasn't funny or attractive or that bright. But he was - most importantly - unavailable."

    I mean, what the hell was wrong with me? I was super hot and turning people away so I could pine over this horrible, unattractive, TAKEN loser who wanted nothing to do with me. I could have been rolling in the peen that whole time. (Try not to imagine that.)

    I am becoming convinced this kind of thing is pandemic among teenage girls.

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  26. > I am still so young, there's so much stuff I still want to do, and so much joy I still have to experience.
    That is so true! I hope you'll keep this feeling and this treatment for the rest of your long and prosperous life! SO you'll never regret the time wasted and never wrote a sad letter :)

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  27. great post. I wrote my high school self something along the same lines. Just remember this, For as angry as you still are at High School You, you don't want the 30 yr old Amanda writing 20s Amanda and kicking her ass for wasting so much time being angry over lost time, because all that does is make you loose more time again instead being happy and having fun!!!

    I need to listen to my own advice!

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  28. It's interesting. I wonder how many adults have this same type of "letter to self" stashed away in the back of their mind? I also wonder how many teens now could really use your "letter to self" to see things much more clearly now instead of realizing these truths many years later? How many young and vibrant lives could be enriched or pulled from the brink?

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  29. It's a releif to know I am not the only one that regrets wasting so much time in my youth. I only hope that there is at least one teeager that reads this and takes note. Don't waste your time, life is too precious! Why do we not realise this until our lives are almost half gone?!?!?

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  30. I really enjoyed reading this blog. It was so personal and i could definitely relate to it.
    I think as long as we grow and learn then we just become wiser versions of ourselves in the long run. I am so happy that you can see how amazing you are and how amazing life is now.
    Your blog reminds me of why I want to become involved in the big brother/big sister program, because so many young people (including myself when I was that age) have these same emotions and struggles that you described in this blog. I think it would make a huge difference if those kids had an experienced positive mentor they could confide in. But, anyways, I really liked this blog. Thank you so much for sharing. :) P.S.- i absoloutely hated highschool!!!!!! lol I started having the real fun afterwards.

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  31. Thank you for the letter. I'm sure a lot of us would write a similar letter to our high school selves. I would definitely say to my High School Me, "I'm angry at you for wasting time when we should've been having fun." Good thing I finally learned.

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  32. And once again I realize that you are my hero. Not because of your wonderful success (though I think you definitely earned it with your hard work), but because of YOU. You are the most amazing person I have the misfortune of not knowing.
    <3, beth

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  33. Thanks for this; I shared it with my niece who is suffering from a lot of what you wrote. Who knows, maybe it will have an effect on her.

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  35. I'm sort of blown away by our sameness..That's all I got.

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  36. You are amazing!!! And thank you! :) That's all I will say because you need to hear it as much as humanly possible.

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  37. I read this whole thing and am very moved. I'm sure a lot of us would've loved to slap some sense into our high school selves -- Lord knows I regret some of the choices I made and paths I went down. However, as some others above mentioned, we wouldn't be who we are now if it weren't for who we were then. I'm sure you realize that, too. I just want you to know that I love you very much and am so glad you are enjoying living life now and no longer consider suicide an option in your present or future. I would be devastated to lose a friend like you -- one who stuck by me during my stupid teenage years and one who I can definitely call one of my best friends. I hope you know that I'm here for you and also hope I can be as good of a friend to you as you have been to me! <3

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  38. Amanda,

    This heartfelt note back to your past reminded me of my own high school years. I don't think they were quite as bleak, but I definitely agree with Stephen King's old adage that "High School is hell". Many, many times I wish I could have gone back to those years with the wisdom and sense of self that I do now...but it was those years that gave me those positive attributes, so I guess if I can offer any words, I offer these: what we regret makes what we become, for better or for worse.

    Take care.

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  39. Now, Amanda:

    1) What would High School you want to remind you of today?

    2) What do you suppose the You of a decade ahead, well-settled in her niche, want to warn you about right now? (That's a tough one.)

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  40. I write my former selves letters sometimes, it helps me to reflect on what has made me the person I am now. That's what is important. You wouldn't be who you are now if you hadn't been an idiot in high school, none of us would. So, if you like who you are now, come to terms with who you were.

    If you changed one moment in your life, even just one thought, then every thing would be different. And every person who has read your books would be entirely different. If you think about it, the whole world would be different.

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  41. Hey didn't know were to post this but are there any updates on the last book in the My Blood Approves series?

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  42. Thank you for posting this. Just thought I'd drop in and say that.

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  43. I turned 27 the day after kurts bithday this year and I may not have written it down but I felt so many of the things you said in this blog. Except my downfall was not falling for guys that were unavailable but for guys that were exactly like Kurt, except with out the success! So many wasted years... but I do agree with the other comments, I also have to let go of the anger I have had at my former self. Thanks for writing this blog, definately thought worthy!

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  44. I need a flux capacitor and a delorean that can reach 88 miles per hour...
    Thank you for the post!

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  46. Thank you for sharing this. I'm much older than you are but my high school years were not that great.

    Having survived a life-threatening virus as a youth, I left high school standing six foot four and weighing 125 pounds. I was so thin that from the side, I probably almost vanished.

    From high school, I went straight into the U.S. Marines and soon found myself in Vietnam being shot at by unseen snipers during the day and surviving rocket and mortar attacks at night.

    A few years later, in the early 1970s, I was home alone with a loaded sniper rifle planning to end it when I decided that maybe it was a better idea to outlast the depression.

    Since then, I've discovered that no matter how bad "it" gets, there's a strong change the situation will improve and that was true for me.

    I'm glad I changed my mind. Life did improve and continues to improve. There have been down times but there have also been the up times.

    If the end came tomorrow, I have to say it was a good life overall and I really have nothing to complain of and if it doesn't end for decades, I have lots of plans.

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  48. but high school you helped make the adult you that you are right now. don't be angry at her- just move on, realize the mistakes she made, the way you no longer have any desire to be like parts of her, and rock this shit! be even more amazeballs than you currtenly are! life is rad- it's super fun- and you still have SO MUCH MORE FUN TO HAVE!!!! git some. :)

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  49. To Present Amanda:

    Shouldn't use the GD word. No one hates on your beliefs here.

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  51. This may be completely random, but I suffered with depression for my whole life until I was 37 and I could never figure out why. There seemed to be no reason at all. No amount of counselling, meditation, yoga, or hippy feeling cr*p seemed to help. I still just felt sad and pessimistic most of the time.

    Then, recently I did an allergy exclusion diet to try to figure out the source of my hayfever. I not only found out what causes me to sneeze, I found out that something called Salicylates has been causing my depression. I've stopped eating Salicylates (you just cut out tea and certain fruits and vegetables) and I feel great, happy, optimistic, its unreal! I just wake up in the morning feeling great. But if I go ahead and eat these salicylates, then I start to feel depressed again. Who knew???? I WISH I had known this so many years ago, it would have honestly changed the course of my life.

    Anyway, if you are interested, it is called the Failsafe diet. It was developed to treat kids with ADHD, but has since been found to help many people with all sorts of mood related problems.
    http://failsafediet.wordpress.com/
    http://www.fedupwithfoodadditives.info/

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  52. It's like High School You was High School Me's best friend! So glad you posted this. I think it will help a lot of teens who are feeling like you (and I) did.

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  54. This definately matched my feelings when I was young. I read this to my daughter who is going through a lot of this and it definately helped her! Thank you for posting!

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  55. I could deffinately relate to this. You expressed the sentiment of not realizing how big and diverse and wonderful life can be. I feel the same about my highschool years, but thats all part of growing up isnt it? Us introverts need good examples to follow. Im really glad you have a platform and were so willing to be honest. To see the forest through the trees.Unfortunately its all part of the journey and no matter what we try to say to help our teenagers in turmoil it's a case of supporting them until they see the possibilities around them. Everyone has to learn through practical but a little theory doesnt hurt. Love Tina.

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