I turned 30 this summer. Such a pleasant, nice, round number. I like it. Thirty makes sense.
My back hurts if I sit too long, I like how my body looks, my knees hurt, I get sleepy at 10, I am thrilled to say no to things I don’t want to do, I know who my friends are, I have a deep appreciation for my mother, and the idea of getting up early on a Saturday to work out no longer makes me want to vom.
Though I still feel like a teenager sometimes, blasting Linkin Park (RIP Chester) when the mood strikes or feeling angsty without knowing quite why – I realize that I was 15 literally half a lifetime ago. So much has changed – myself, the world around me. Here are a few things things I would’ve told my 15 year old self:
- Chill. Your existential crises started so early. You were 7. Mom carried you to bed when you didn’t feel well. You smelled her hair, felt her strong arms around you, and astutely felt the reality of your temporary smallness. “This is fleeting,” you thought, “I’m already too big to be carried this way. I will soon be a teenager, and then an adult. This moment is sand through my small hands.” You will have these thoughts over and over again. Contemplating death and mourning your youth while it was still present. But it’ll be okay. You don’t have to have it figured out! I know you’re rolling your eyes over this cliche, but seriously: chill. Your weekly existential crises will get old fast; and omg they’ll drain drain d r a i n you. Anxiety issues will overwhelm you eventually. Relax whenever you can now.
- Keep reading.
- Your body is lovely and strong and mighty. Your body bends, pushes, stretches, runs, rests, and SLAYS. Don’t be so mean to it. It is a miracle that your mother toiled over. Celebrate it every chance you get because the world will tell you it isn’t worth celebrating every chance it gets.
- Boys don’t like you v much, and that’s okay. They don’t like themselves v much either. You do you boo.
- It’s okay to be confused as to who you do like. You are so so valid, my love. You don’t quite have the language for this or who you are just yet – BUT you will eventually, and it’ll be a great day. Feel all your feelings, and know that it’s 100% okay to feel them.
- Don’t trust the church so blindly. Be smarter, more suspicious. Some in the church will love you wholly and fiercely, and it will be the most beautiful gift. But many many won’t – because your brownness, (what you eventually will identify as) queerness, and womanhood complicates their theology and their god. Don’t confuse their well intentions for truth. Their love for you should never ever require silencing any single part of who you are. Pay attention to the red flags. Remember Mad Eye (and your mother): constant vigilance! This is exhausting, but so is surviving. And it’ll get easier… eventually.
- Think about how much whiteness and maleness you’re consuming through your media: music, film, internet, books. Diversify, diversify, diversify! You’ll do yourself a favor. You’ll break open your world, and find yourself reflected back. This will be a moment of such incredible beauty. You’ll eventually stop settling for anything less.
- Wear. Your. Retainer.
- Try. Join a team. I know there’s not much money around, but find one that doesn’t cost money. Read the books assigned instead of winging it. Just try.
- Apply to a college you don’t think you’ll get in. Again. Try.
- Write more! You should always be writing. You’re smart and funny, and you have something to say.
- Your family is the best family. You take them for granted. Your mom is the best mom. Your brother is the best brother. Quit taking so much advantage of that.
- I know you just told that boy you liked him and you’ll cringe for ten years after. But not anymore! You shot your shot and I’m so proud of you for trying. That was so scary, and it took so much courage. It didn’t end well. And it scared you from trying again. But you recovered. And it was worth it. I’m proud. Love and life are worth taking risks over.
- One day, you’ll find a Latinx queer church you get to call home. You’ll realize you’re not alone. Don’t put up with anything less. Cruel theology will flood you for years, but you don’t have to let it. God is so much bigger and beautiful and She’s been there this whole entire time without judgment or impatience! She’s waiting for you with open arms and strawberry scented hair. She’s got you. And your Church does too. This is all a miracle. (I know you’re probably bristling over the pronoun I just chose, but trust me – it’s fine. See #7.)
- Lay off the colored hair gel. Wear more crop tops. You are wise to avoid the thin brow trend, your thick eyebrows have been killin it from day one.