When I was in the eighth grade, one of my teachers had all of the students write a letter to themselves four years in the future as graduating high school students. The year was 2008: I had braces, loved making people laugh, and knew I wanted to have a career in writing. To this day, not much has changed. I received this letter but four years later – now 2012, as I was preparing to enter SUNY New Paltz as a college freshman. I truly don’t remember my initial reaction upon opening the note, but it was sentimental enough and has stayed tacked on my bulletin board. As time would have it, another four years have passed, and 2008 Bridget (that’s when people first started calling her Bird) never received a response to her letter, until today:
June 05, 2008
August 07, 2017
Dear Future Bridget, Dear Past Bridget,
If you are reading this – I guess it is four years in the future. You probably feel the same way I feel now: sad because you’re moving on and knowing that things are going to change.
I know you felt scared writing this letter – unable to imagine what it would be like to leave a school you spent eight years in with the very same people each and every day. You’re about to enter a time in your life that’s marked by transition and confusion. You’re not the best at handling change, and though you don’t like it, you’ll start to learn how to let things unfold naturally when they’re out of you’re control – only because you have to, really.
I hope that high school was fun and that I made some close friends. I also hope I didn’t forget the friends I had in SJS.
Starting at a school with few friendships will be troubling to you at first, but you complete your time there satisfied with the people that accompany you and the accomplishments that you’ve achieved. High school was a great time – you will greatly benefit from learning from fantastic English teachers who support your passion for writing and only make your technique stronger. You make your best friends here. You will be fortunate enough to always be surrounded by a large group of kind-hearted souls that inspire you to give and laugh and want to be selfless for. I know this will be confusing at first, as you think that your friendships from elementary and middle school are impermeable and nothing can measure up to them, but you’ll come to learn that dynamics shift and adjust with time, and this doesn’t have to be a bad thing.
You’re still friends with your friends from middle school. In fact, you got dinner with them just two nights ago. Your conversations were marked by cackles and clinks of forks against shared plates. The girls you split 12-scoop ice cream sundaes with in your youth are the same people you can have a glass of wine with after work now. Isn’t that lovely? Each time you get together with them, you will celebrate a milestone – adding another year onto your relationship until you are proclaiming a persistent love that has lasted 17 years. Time nor distance will break this bond; it proves to be malleable and each day you’re thankful for that. The four of you have outgrown bad haircuts and affinities for graphic tees, but you have not outgrown each other.
Study hard, and don’t sweat the small stuff. Try to remember that life always goes on. Stay true to yourself when you move onto college. Don’t try to fit in if it means changing yourself.
Sweet, sweet, Bridget. You know that “sweating the small stuff” is engrained into our very DNA. Let’s just say this flair for the dramatic is a fun part of you that remains steadfast. I’m pleased to tell you that you no longer write with quite as many clichés dripping from your page. You’re young and you’re finding your voice as a writer, and it’s okay. Sometimes you still struggle in this search, never knowing how honest to be on a page and with yourself. It’s a constant evolution, and that keeps this whole process interesting, even though you usually just find it frustrating.
Remember to keep in touch with your family and friends. Don’t forget them because then you will lose them.
Have you always been this dramatic? Will I always be this dramatic? You end up not going away to school, so staying in touch with family is pretty easy. Don’t worry, you’ll get over it and realize things evolved with the best possible outcome.
Always stay positive and happy. Keep on ☺-ing. Hopefully your braces are off by now! Enjoy life, future self.
I think that you’d be pleased to know that overwhelmingly you are a pretty happy person. Over the years, however, there has been a shift in your optimism, and your perception of happiness isn’t as blind or blanketed. Learning to allow yourself to feel and express emotions marked with negative connotations does not take away this standard level of happiness you are used to feeling. Expressing something other than happiness is not a bad thing. You are pleased with the person you are and the person you continue to grow into. (And you got your braces off in ninth grade. You should wear your retainers more often than you do).
With lots of love, Bridget
PS. See if people still call me Bird
PS. They do, and lots of people call you Quiggs now too. But that’s a story for a different day.