Dear 16 year old me,
I wish so bad that you could see all the things that are about to happen to you. The whole world is telling you to care about what you look like, and who to date, and what to wear, when deep down you know that it’s your thoughts that set you so far apart from everyone else. Don’t get wrapped up in something as shallow as your looks. You’ll have a lot of boyfriends. Again, don’t spend too much time on this, they come and go like the sun. Keep focusing on yourself. You’ll lose yourself once or twice, and that’s okay. You surprise me every single time how you come out on top, being more self knowing than I ever thought possible. Each time, figuring out more and more clearly, exactly what you want and who you are. Bet on you.
Eventually you’ll finish school, YOU WILL!! Right now you’re in the middle of it and it sucks so bad. It’s one of the longest journeys thus far. But when you receive that stupid little degree in the mail, I promise you that even thought you’re denying it, you’ll be proud. Stick to it. Those girls that hated you in highschool? They’re now asking you to go to coffee and they’re asking you for guidance and advice on their own lives and paths. It’s funny how that works. Try to take the highroad. You still haven’t learned to not be spiteful and still have a hard time letting go of grudges… But we’re working on that. You won’t have a million friends. You think that’s important right now, but that’s not the case. Your father, grandmother, close friends and cousins that you barely notice right now, are shaping you. You don’t even know. They will become your best friends, support system and role models.
The bossyness you’ve had since you could talk, is definitely paying off as you get older. (While still getting you in trouble occasionally) The outspokenness that caused you to lose a few friends, and a few million fights with your parents, is still there. Except now, it’s teaching you things like negotiation, to be business savvy and to stick up for yourself in the real world. You’ve gained a lot of confidence by 23. I know you thought your confidence would come with being “pretty” and having perfect skin and healthy hair. I hate to break it to you, but you still don’t think you’re pretty, you still have bad skin and your hair will probably never ever be healthy. But you are so much more than that, and you have so much confidence. This just shows that your confidence does not come from your looks. It comes from within, and your experience, your ambition, and your ability to do things people specifically tell you that you cannot do. IT’S SO MUCH MORE THAN YOUR LOOKS.
One thing that I love about you is that even though your accomplishments are exciting, big news and surprising to most, they aren’t so much to you. There’s something special about the energy you carry, and knowing what you’re capable of. You knew you’d be a photographer since you were 8, you knew you would be teaching workshops, you knew you’d be speaking at high schools, you knew you’d work with Vogue Magazine. The list goes on. As it may appear to be luck, it’s not. Your work ethic that seems completely normal to you, is not the norm. Treasure this until you die. Be patient with others that don’t have it, it’s rare. Keep learning to let things go, and to not worry. You’ll learn in a couple years how to pick and choose what to worry about and soon you’ll be much happier. (this ones a big one, wait for it) The struggle is part of the story. Keep doing what you’re doing. It’s working.
Don’t forget to fall in love with yourself first.
Allie Beckwith, age 23