Prompted by Debbie Chachra's post in a similar vein.

Dear Mel-of-2000,

10 years (not quite - I'm a bit over a month shy) from now, you're still alive - and you're happy, and you're not alone. And honestly, that's all you really need to know.

That's not enough for you? All right. You did always like more data.

So, here's the thing: you don't actually need this letter. I know you think you do; you cried yourself to sleep tonight because you've just learned what it's like to mourn a dream - to take a future that you've come to love and let it go. Tonight you marked the IMSA acceptance packet with an "I regret to say that I will not attend" and left it on the kitchen table for your parents with a note saying that you've accepted their decision. And you dread having to tell all the teachers who've written and called and pleaded with your mom and dad on your behalf that it didn't work, and you're trying to figure out how to keep a smile on your face while the class is singing Happy Birthday, because tomorrow is the day you turn 14. You don't know what's going to happen now, and you are scared.

This is okay. This is normal. You're a person; you have feelings. All those bursts of energy that explode out into math or reading marathons, sneaking science books into the bathroom in the middle of the night so you can learn more without being interrupted or getting in trouble for it - those are good. And the flip side still remains: despite your best attempts, that magnitude of intensity still equally applies to grief, terror, and rage. Don't worry. Your control of that is good (not just for a 13-year-old - it would be impressive for anybody), and it is growing; you have blast doors strong enough to not hurt anyone except yourself.

Just know that someday you will also have to learn how to open them up again, because a large part of your power (yes, you have it) comes from the fierceness of your joy. Someday it will be safe to let that out; you will know when. Trust me on this - I know you trust nobody but yourself, but in a way, I am yourself. Just... older. Possibly a little incoherent to you right now. That's okay.

I could tell you where you're going to go to high school. I could tell you whether you did well, where you went to college, what you're doing afterwards. But it's much more fun to find these all out on your own (I know, you curse me now - you'll expand this part of your vocabulary when you get to high school.) Here's what I will say:

  1. You know that you are loved, and always have been; that's why your family does what they do and says what they say. And you will find places where you are also understood. Spaces where people will know you and care about you. Yes, it's going to feel weird. Get used to it. It's wonderful.
  2. You're a teacher. Get used to it. It's wonderful.
  3. You can get tired. You'll learn this one the hard way - multiple times. Get used to it, and take care of yourself as best you can anyway. Yeah, I'm still learning this.
  4. You're going to learn about this word called "hacking." You're going to start making stuff and doing all these things you don't yet have words or examples for. You'll learn those words and wish that you could do them, and then, much later, you will realize that you already do. And guess what? You're pretty good at it. (And by the way, it's called "engineering.")
  5. Your hearing is an asset, not a liability. Do you realize how fast you can read? Do you realize how quickly you can type? Keep saving up for that computer - once you get online, then... oh, your life is going to change. Overhearing conversations, seeing backchannels, being able to participate - it's a lovely world, and you are very, very good at it. You'll see.
  6. Improvisation. It's not a bad thing. It's going to serve you well. Get used to it.
  7. The crap you go through really actually does make you stronger. Seriously. Yeah, it's still annoying to me too - but it is true. Get used to it. In a strange way, it's wonderful.
  8. No, you don't suck. Get used to it. It's wonderful.
  9. Yes, you can change the world. Get used to it. It's wonderful.
  10. You will not be alone.

I'm not sure if I'm used to the last one yet, but yes, it's wonderful. Non-aloneness is a hard concept to understand, I realize; it's like describing light as "the absence of dark." But if darkness - or maybe, to be fair, dimness - is all you've ever known, then that's the closest explanation you can get. I can't claim you'll never be lonely, because you will be. Everybody is sometimes. But I can honestly say that there are people out there who you'll feel at home with. You just haven't found these friends yet. You will start finding them very soon. You will keep finding them for the rest of your life. (So far, anyway.) And you'll keep getting to know them better and better over many, many years, which is the best part.

And for the stuff you really, really want... keep working on it. It may take years. You may fail. You will learn things. You may be impulsive and impatient, but you can be persistent when it counts - and you'll know when it counts. Being a stubborn git will sometimes work to your advantage. In the next decade, you will Do Things, and you will Be Happy. You won't always take the easy road, but you will take the right one. Trust yourself more; you are smarter than you know. And you'll grow up exactly as fast as you need to.

See you in 10 years.


PS: If you could do me a favor - record your piano-playing, especially that lovely Impromptu you've been working on, because you are currently at the peak of your abilities in this domain, as far as the next decade is concerned. Oh, and... look up RSI, and be a little careful about typing, okay? Your future self thanks you.