dear me, one year ago:

Hey, you. You’re gonna be okay.

I know you think you’ve got it all planned out, but sweetie, you’ve got no idea. You’re finishing up that internship at OSLC and you’re feeling pretty solid about what your life’s going to be. Let me tell you something:

It’s not going to go that way at all.

Great news! You are going to make so many new friends. You have no idea! These are people you wouldn’t have met any other way but in a forced situation. You’ll get to (for the first time, ever, really) pick them out based on your interests. And guess what? You all have insanely similar interests revolving around service. These will become genuine friends that you question how you lived without beforehand, so congratulations. Your heart will expand to great lengths.

Keep that heart in check, though. Something is going to happen to it, and I wish I could have told you sooner to spare many heartbreaks, but you aren’t going to get married. Alison, it’s okay. It’s life. You are okay, you aren’t soulless, and you need to know that you’re both going to be okay. Don’t be afraid to know you’re going to lose things. Friends, family and possessions. But that’s okay, you’re tough. You can handle that.

You will deal with the rumors that come with this breakup. You will cry. A lot. You will learn what “I’m on your side” really means, because it’s an ugly term. Do NOT trust those who say it: the ones who choose sides are not the ones you want. Do not be afraid of the boys who will A – try and date you and B – coerce you into being their roommates. They’re all good in this year: do not turn your back on them.

So. You’re going to be alone, but you won’t really be alone. You’ve got these new friends! You’re also going to leave your parents, leave the only man you’ve ever known, and the life that has been your comfort. No, not just for AmeriCorps — you’re doing it permanently. You are going to move away and do service work because a great opportunity has come up. And nobody is trying to stop you, because for once you’ve got people seeing the real you, and that’s a good thing.

You’re still learning. Every day. You are doing things for yourself. You gain so many friends and you lose even more, so things even themselves out.

You’re also finally going to go to California. You’re going to sleep outside. You become a runner, and you’re going to do a half marathon. That’s 13.1 miles. You are going to work hard and accomplish so much, so don’t you dare sell yourself short. You are going to learn disappointment, your heart will shatter, and you will experience death. In all of that, you will find strength.

Your sister will get married and it will be beautiful, awkward, and exactly what you imagined. Take it all in, because it’s going to come and go and you don’t want to be thinking too hard about leaving before you realize that you’re already gone.

Smile, kid. You’re going to come through scathed and that’s okay. You’re going to be lost, but in a way that you chose. For yourself. For the first time ever. Congratulations: you’re a single, able, strong-willed adult. Cheers to you. (PS, you like gin now.)


3 thoughts on “dear me, one year ago:

  1. A – I don’t know whether to be sad or happy. (You, too, I’d imagine.) You’re more together and on the ground than I was at your age, you are very ‘rich’ in the things that matter. Keep writing!

  2. Alison, this is beautiful. I’m so glad I read this because I more often than not go back and re-read things in an old journal or an old email and wish I could have given myself the same advice: things will get better and the pain will pass. Your outlook on life is amazing, keep at it, girl! And as a native Californian, I think you’ll love it here 😉

  3. Youre so good at being an engaging bloggerrrrr! It really was an awesome post, I might copy the theme. You can add to your letter “Dear Alison a year ago — even though you make 2795437 awesome new friends, the changes you go through will make your old friendships a lot stronger.” Love you xoxo

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