Art by Sheila Sarinas
For the longest time, humans have retained a fascination with the past. Time travel is everywhere in popular culture, from Doctor Who to Back to the Future. But by simply taking the time to think about my own past experiences, I have become more grateful for the person I am now. Still, that being said, if I stumbled across some type of DeLorean or Tardis and was somehow able to meet the middle school version of myself, there would be 2 things I would like to say the most.
Be unapologetically you!
Yes, I know that right now you are at a point in your life where being open to others is as easy as defeating a Sith Lord. But trust me on this and do not sell yourself short. Be optimistic. Don’t let your cynicism get in the way of new and fun experiences. Some of the greatest choices you have made so far in your life are the ones in which you did not pressure yourself or close up after thinking about it too much. It’s okay to have walls, but be sure to leave some doors open for other people to access the little dresser-drawer of personal items that could help them get to know you better. It can be difficult, since you’ve already grown to be afraid of what other people think of you, but you’ll feel so much better to not be afraid to reveal bits of yourself that you are proud of (and not proud of!).
To quote Patrick Stump (because, let’s admit it, I’m Fall Out Boy trash), you are what you love, not what loves you. Going back to the “room with walls analogy”, don’t let people lay all over your furniture! Do not let what others perceive of you define you. When they call you awkward and eccentric, nobody but you has the power to take it or leave it.
Document, document, document! Be a hoarder of memories. Don’t throw away things that matter. Take pictures even if you’re feeling self conscious, because when memory is an ever-changing sea, you are going to want to have anchors to the places and faces closest to your heart. To extend the ocean metaphor, keep a “treasure chest” of ticket stubs, postcards, polaroids, etc. That might be just what you need to look at to get through a rough day.
Also try keeping a “captain’s log” (pirate metaphor continuing) of ideas, quotes, lists, and other insights of what your mind was like at that point in time. Dumping out the contents of your mind onto something as concrete as paper will help you feel more clear and less forgetful too. As you come of age, you are going to want those ugly-faced pictures of you in a faded Powerpuff Girls shirt. You’ll want videos of that version of you singing Part of Your World at the top of her lungs, because without that girl singing her heart out, you would not be you and I would not be me.