Yesterday, on America’s 239th birthday, I turned 19 years old.
19. The last of my teen years. The last year I’ll be referred to as a teenager, both lovingly and annoyingly. In the fall I’ll be starting my Sophomore year of college.
I didn’t used to be one to be reflective and nostalgic. Then my Senior year of high school hit, along with so many “lasts”, and that quickly changed.
And yet, here I find myself. This started as me listing 19 things that I’ve learned in these previous 19 years. It quickly turned into a letter to my 9 year old self. 10 years is a long time. So I went with it.
Here it is, a letter to myself 10 years ago. With 19 things I’ve learned in 19 years of living.
Dear 9 year old Dani, here are 19 things you’re going to learn in the next 10 years:
1. Chocolate fixes everything.
2. Except nausea.
3. You never move towns, and you will end up going to college with at least one of the same people you were in Kindergarten with. It is strange to think about.
4. Having your birthday on a national holiday gets old fast, especially when all of your friends and family have plans with their friends and family to celebrate without you. Grin and bear it.
5. You’re never too old for Disney. Or, whatever makes you happy. Find your happy place, spend a ton of time there.
6. You’ll never feel good enough for the person you love, no matter how many times they assure you that you are.
7. The passions you have when you’re 9 years old will not be the passions you’ll have when you’re 19. You might not believe me now, but you won’t want to be a professional softball player forever. In 10 years you’ll find you’ll want to be a Stage Manager.. though right now you’ve never heard of such a thing.
8. Wash your face and brush your teeth every night before you get into bed. Seriously, you need to do it and you know it’s not worth getting out of bed for.
9. You still talk to your best friend from Kindergarten.
10. You forgot the name of that boy on the playground who liked your best friend but not you. And that’s alright, because you’ve met one boy who’s name you won’t want to stop saying for the rest of your life and you’ve been together for nearly 3 years now.
11. Don’t fight when mom says she wants to curl your hair and do your makeup. On your 19th birthday she will still be asking, and you’ll say yes.
12. Middle school was one of the worst times of your life. Don’t blame yourself. You did nothing wrong. It’s not your fault you’re so sick and nobody believes you. They will.
13. In 8th grade you will be diagnosed with your first of many diseases: this one an auto immune disorder. Later there will be more. Do most of what the doctors say, but when they tell you you need surgeries and weird treatments fight it. You don’t. You’ll still deal with scary flare ups 10 years later. You will be alright.
14. You still sleep with your stuffed animal beagle named Dorothy every night.
15. That cat you got for your birthday last year is still your best friend. He’s a handsome, feisty, little 11 year old cat now.. with the heart of kitten. He still lays on the foot of your bed when you’re sick.
16. When you’re in your dorm room and you’re sick you’ll be glad you’re so close to home. There will be no better feeling than calling your mommy to come pick you up, being able to sleep in your own bed, and eating a home cooked meal.
17. Don’t worry when mom yells at you for not cleaning your room. One day when you move to college you will realize you love organizing, and you will start a blog based off of it. You’ll do enough cleaning and organizing to make up for all that was lost.
18. Bond with dad over his cars and his love for Disney. Hug mom and let her take you shopping and out for brunch. Go on long car rides with your brother at night listening to the radio and telling stories.
19. You are beautiful. You are smart. You will find your talent.
And you are totally not crying as you write this.
You’ve been through a lot and I’m proud of you.
I’m proud of myself.