Advice, Lifestyle

Dear 12-year-old me

Dear 12-Year-old me,

Hi! It’s 20-year-old you, sitting in her dorm at Boston University, and writing this letter on top of an overwhelmingly large amount of homework that she hasn’t done despite an entire weekend to get ahead because she’s the queen of procrastination. 

I doubt you know what that term means yet — but I’ll let you figure that one out yourself. 

I know you’re still in middle school right now and imagining the future of being an adult. I know you want to go out and explore the city with friends late at night, or spend a day at someone else’s house without asking permission from Mom and Dad. I know the thought of waiting even one more year for such freedom is ripping you apart.

An envelope. Michelle writes a letter to her 12-year-old self with the advice to not wonder about the long-term future and hold fast to the experiences unique to adolescence. COURTESY OF ERICA STEEVES VIA UNSPLASH

But I sit here — as an official adult — to urge you to stop thinking about that for just one moment. Grasp these moments you experience as a kid, where the only worry you will ever have is who you decide to sit with at lunch. 

There’s a certain price that comes with growing up, though you may not realize it now. And that child-like joy you feel whenever you hear the sound of an ice cream truck, or that energy that sends you swinging from one monkey bar to the next, will fade away, and you will never feel like that again.

So, for the sake of future-you and present-you — take advantage of that joy. Make it unique. The only way it’ll ever come back in the future is in the form of a fading memory, and instead of bringing you a feeling of pleasure, you’ll be left feeling a strange emptiness. 

When you go back to Beijing, take the time to hug your grandparents a little tighter. Tell them you love them. When you’re by the pond and your aunt is teaching you how to feed the koi fish, listen to her and enjoy the moment. Eight years can change a lot, and it’s almost impossible for 20-year-old me to make a memory like that again.

Go on more road trips with your family. Force everyone you know to get together for Christmas and watch the snow fall outside your window. Eat so many freezies during the summer that your head hurts. This is life, and you’re still a kid. Everything around you is so beautiful and worth falling in love with. 

Becoming an adult doesn’t just mean you can go out whenever you want. Sure, that’s one of the good parts of growing up, but with every good comes a bad, and trust me. You don’t want to live through the bad just yet.

Taxes. Internships. Finance. Metabolism. I bet you don’t know what a single one of those words mean, and you definitely don’t want to unless you’re forced to understand. There’s a huge, new responsibility that comes with being an adult, so instead of trying to rush the process of growing up, let it come naturally so that you’re never out of that safe, little shell unless you’re finally ready to leave. 

Those water fights with your brother? Have more of them. Those barbecue nights where you’d help out your dad? Cook more with him. Those sunset walks you’d take with your mom after homework is done? Go out more with her. 

You’d be surprised at just how badly you’ll miss your childhood years when they’re no longer within reach. There was a brightness in how you saw the world, a certain beauty in the way you believed the best out of everything and looked through the lenses with your innocent eyes. Once that’s gone, it won’t come back. So take it all in, and don’t let the thoughts of the future distract you from the present. 

You make it. I promise you do. You’ll wake up and realize how important academics are, and for the last year of high school, you’ll make it the best year of your life. You’ll be accepted into your dream university, and you’ll meet unbelievable people from all over the world that will become your new family. 

You’d be so proud of yourself. I know you’d be. 

But that is the future, and this is the now, and I want you to live it out because there won’t ever be a time when you look at everything with as much wonder, love and excitement as you do now. Hug the ones you love and take advantage of still being a kid — after all, the world will always be waiting for you to explore. 

I’m on the verge of tears now. Because I miss you, and I miss that life you had, and I wish you knew just how much I miss it. 

Go be happy, girl. I love you.

With all the warmth in the world, 

20-Year-Old You

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