To the Person I Thought I Was,
High school has changed you. It has made you cold. Buried beneath the layers of the façade you cake on, you are still there, the real you. It will take some time to dig her back out, but she will see the light of day eventually.
Right now, you are friends with the wrong people. You just want to be popular, I know. You just want to be loved. They will talk behind your back, and you will talk behind theirs. I know you are always on edge because you are afraid of what they will say about you. This is not friendship. You will figure that out before you graduate. You will have real friends by the time you leave.
You will date a boy who will make you hate love. He will cheat on you, but it does not hurt. It does not hurt because you never actually loved him. You only date him because he is your friend, and everyone says it will hurt his feelings if you don’t. You do a lot of things for other people. None of these things work out.
Your best friend will turn into someone you cannot stand. Right now it feels like it is you and her against the world. It’s not. It is you against her, and the world is just watching. Things will happen quickly. It only takes a month. You go from talking to her every day to not even looking at each other. You have both grown in different directions. Everyone says you will be friends again, but deep down you feel like you won’t. You are right.
Right now, high school is everything to you. The past and the future seem nonexistent. You let a lot of people change you, even yourself. You just want to fit it in. You want to be popular, to be liked, to be known… You will fall apart because of the pressure you put on yourself. But in a few years, you will realize that high school is just another tiny speck in your life.
The person you think you are right now is not the real you. The person you are right now is a result of everyone trying to make you into something that works for them, into something they want you to be. You do not have to be anything for anyone. By the end of your senior year, you will finally understand this. You will be a different person walking across the stage at graduation than you were walking down the halls during the year. I know you will get lost along the way, but you will get there eventually.
When you think it is too much to handle, and when you feel like giving up, just remember that someday you will be the best version of yourself. You will be the person you are truly supposed to be, not the person you think you are, not even the person I thought I was. And when that happens, all you pretended to be and all you were forced to be will evaporate. The real you will crawl her way out from underneath all of those protective layers, and she will shine brighter than you, or I, could have ever hoped.
Alexa Stephens is a college student and aspiring writer from New York. She overthinks everything but is perfectly okay with that. She can usually be found reading a good book or binge-watching a TV show, but she occasionally steps out to browse secondhand bookstores. More than anything, she loves spending time with her dog and her best friend, and she never passes up an opportunity to watch the sunrise.