If you could talk to your 16-year-old self, what would you say? What advice, warnings, or encouragement would you give your younger self?
Let's see, you're sixteen. Still grateful to have escaped the dire fate of "sweet sixteen and never been kissed," though it's hard for you to shake the sense that something must be wrong with you because the ones you have a crush on never want to date you. Oh, honey, that's going to get so much better -- take it from someone who knows.
You're -- what, taking AP bio, right? Thrilling at the strangely grown-up feeling of drinking hot tea made over a bunsen burner in the bio lab with Mr. Kaestner at 7:30 in the morning, before any of the other classes have begun. Taking Latin, too, if memory serves -- translating the Aeneid with Lindsay, line by gloriously ancient line. Many of the memories you're making now will last.
People talk about how these are the best years of your life. And yes: there's a lot that's wonderful about where you are now. But there's a lot that's awkward about this moment, too -- I get that. You're not sure who you want to be. You don't always feel at-home in your own skin. You're desperate to be loved and wanted, and secretly afraid that you're too weird to find the kind of connection you yearn for. (You're not. I promise.)
College is going to be so good for you. You're going to meet some extraordinary people, many of whom will still be among your nearest and dearest in twenty years. You're going to find your tribe. Indeed: you're going to find several, in college and beyond, and they will be among your chosen-family for the rest of your life.
There are so many books and ideas and discoveries ahead of you, and they are going to make your universe impossibly vast and your heart impossibly full. Oh, there's so much good stuff coming! Thandeka, The Jew in the Lotus, Jane Kenyon, Reb Zalman...
Enjoy everything there is to love about where you live now. Walk on the Riverwalk, eat Tex-Mex as often as you can possibly stand it, notice the birdsong and the scent of giant magnolia blossoms, swim in the Guadalupe. I don't think you're ever going to live in Texas again, but you will always love the big sky.
Tell Lali and Eppie you love them, just because you can.
I know that you often feel like a square peg in a round pegboard. You're offbeat and intellectual and geeky, and that's not always comfortable. You're not sure yet whether you want to be the girl in Birkenstocks and flowy skirts or the girl in bluejeans and a preppy buttondown. Guess what: you can be both. You can be other things you haven't even imagined yet. And you will.
I could tell you all about the quirky, beautiful, steady life you're going to build for yourself: the marriage, the vocation, the son. But you'll have more fun discovering them for yourself.
Really I just want to say: be kind to yourself. You are loveable. (You are loved.)