2013 going on 2023

dear 15 year old mikaela,

some things never change. when someone takes a photo of you, you’ll still start with a silly pose because you’re unsure of what else to do with your face or hands. you will be unsure of a lot of things. this is scary, but you’re learning it’s also a lot of what adulthood is composed of. not being sure & doing it anyway.

you never straighten your hair anymore. because you never feel like you have to.

no more hours and hours in front of the mirror at a god-awful time trying to take the kulot out of you. in fact, you embrace a lot of what you tried desperately to hide: the shape of your eyes. how “dark” you get in the summer. the shape of you (a song by ed sheeran you actually grow to hate! sorry).

people are going to tell you that you’re bigger now. because you are bigger now.

for years, you’re going to have a very complicated relationship with food. and likewise, it’s going to take years for you to recover. but it’ll be okay.

weirdly, it’s when you’re at your biggest that you find the confidence to smile freely. sure, you’re always going to be working on moving more, among other things. but it’s so much easier to speak up. you’re no longer trying to shrink yourself into boxes. i promise you, there is no “smart one” or “funny one” or “pretty one.” there’s just you. life is not a coming of age movie.

keep working on your poetry pls i’m begging you. words really are your thing, for better or worse. and well, this goes against everything in your virgo soul … psa: the words in your lil brain are not always right.

you’re wrong about you. you’re wrong about a lot of things.

you’ll learn and it’s going to hurt. there are going to be nights where you can’t breathe from how bad it hurts. those are going to suck, i can’t lie. mental illness is neither something to romanticize nor something you can snap away like thanos. (yeah, thanos finally becomes relevant in the MCU for a sec.)

as it turns out, seeking support is the first step in a lifelong and ever-changing routine of taking care of yourself. and being taken care of.

but you’re never as fragile as you think.

there are going to be fissures in your heart you can’t mend. you’ll try to fill them best you can to no avail. you’ll lose your best friends once, twice, thrice over. love letters will feel childish and useless for a while. you will stop believing in pretty, tender words like “i’ll always be there for you” or “god’s love is unconditional” or “you deserve to live,” just to name a few.

and yet.

and yet, when you let yourself become open to grace, from god, your beloved friends & family, and oh man, especially from yourself, you’ll find being soft is not being weak.

life is so much more than the four walls of high school, more than even making it through college. what gets you through life is:

dad asking you to play BTS in the car, sending snail mail, late night talks with mariam & nabiha which end in delirious laughter, looking out the plane window and remembering you are a tiny speck in this universe (and how wonderful and terrible and frightening that is), actually saying “good morning” to people at church, mom throwing on another christmas movie you know the ending of, the entirety of spider-man: into the spider-verse (2018), going to concerts by yourself, losing in like, so many board games to your cousins (and swearing vengeance upon them), taylor swift’s discography, taking photos with becca in real life(!), writing a book, learning k-pop dances in your parents’ basement, the elevator scene in new girl, sending memes to your brother, a cup of matcha, and more, more, more.

yeah, you’re going to miss being fifteen the way i’m going to miss being twenty-five.

the point is, somehow, we’re still here to be nostalgic and angry at the MCU and cry over k-dramas and cringe at our awful selfies and to love without being too cheeky and self-deprecating.

some things never change, but you are not one of them.





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