Dear 18 Year Old Her,
Lately I have been thinking about how I barely recognize you anymore. You are a piece of me, but almost an entirely different person than I am today. I admire what you have done and envy how brave you are. Looking through pictures of you, I see a young girl who was in pain, but doing all she could to survive – the smile on your face only barely masking the sorrow your eyes have seen. Your wore your soul on your sleeve, but did your best to hide it whenever someone glanced in your direction, afraid that they might see through your disguise. All the youthful confidence and pride in your uniqueness was shattered and put to questioning with the uncertainty that life threw your way. In one of the most pivotal phases of your life, everything changed, but not in the way you anticipated. You thought you would head off to college to start anew and shed the previous image of “nerd” that had been paired with you throughout your high school years. Instead, you ran off to college, fleeing the image of a girl who had lost her father too young. You thought you would have plans to travel and change the world – but instead you ran from place to place around the world, hoping the rapid change of scenery would make you forget the scene that you had abandoned at home. You hoped that you would meet many amazing people and become the queen of the party scene, but instead you barely remember many of the people you met because the haze of alcohol blurred your vision. You had such optimistic hopes for the future, and I crushed them with my inability to hold on to you.
Perhaps one day I will find you again, and recognize the girl I used to be. Maybe we will be reunited like old friends, familiar and comfortable with eachother. Or maybe we are never destined to meet again, and you are just an image of my past. Maybe I lost you forever that fateful day, and you died with the hope that life would go as planned. I hope to honor your memory at the very least, and celebrate the person you were so confident in being. You had to change, life would allow no other option, and I thank you for the sacrafices you made to make me who I am today. I forgive you for all the harm you inflicted on yourself, you were lost and in pain and did not know what else to do. You were handling teenage angst with a helping of incredible sorrow that was beyond your years, and you only did the best that you could to cope. I cannot blame you for runing away, I would have done the same thing in your shoes. Sometimes the emotion is just too much to handle and the only way to escape it is to overload your senses with all other elements. You did well, and I am proud of you.
P.S. Thank you for all of the adventures you blindly forged us in to – all the parties, new places, out of character decisions, and unexpected situtations. Despite not recognizing it at the time, they were some of the best times of my young life and I would never go back and change the decisions you made. We all make mistakes, it’s only human nature, and I believe that you made three times as many steps forwards as steps back. You have to give yourself some credit, you are kind of a badass. You set me up for success and to truly love and value life. It took us a while to get here, but I am so grateful for the forework you did to make it happen. I will tell stories of you for many years to come, and think upon our time together fondly. I hold you dear to my heart, and will always remember all that you gave to me. We may never meet agai, except through pictures, but I will try to keep you with me every day, because you are too special to lose sight of.