Dear 13-year-old Nikita,
Being a teenager is hard – harder than most adults like to admit. You’re somehow expected to figure out who you are, all the while enduring an onslaught of hormones, social/academic pressures, and the imminent threat of acne. Your teachers, parents and loved ones all mean well, and they’re doing the best they can with you (let’s face it, you can be a pretty big asshole when you want to be), but I am aware that sometimes you do wind up on the receiving end of some pretty shitty advice (i.e. If someone tells you “These are the best years of your life”, that person is either lying or sadly reliving their high-school glory days in their parents’ basement… either way, don’t listen to them). You already dance to the beat of your own drum, and you have a pretty good head on your shoulders, but there are still a few things about life that I, as the future you, want you to know – and I promise, all of the following is certified bullshit-free.
– Be kind to people. Be kind to them for no reason – but if you do need a reason: the act of being kind to others is capable of increasing your own propensity to happiness… How’s that?
– Your self-awareness and your level of comfort in your own skin (with your braces and your awkward puberty weight and all!) is going to make your life a pleasure to live. Try to hold on to that confidence through the different manifestations of your outward flaws.
– Keep being friends with the trouble makers. You seem to have figured out how to distinguish the ones who constructively challenge the status quo from the ones who are just degenerates for degenerates’ sake. Let them make you ask questions and evaluate situations more deeply… Then go spend the rest of your time with the nerds and weirdos.
– You’re going to “go out” with a popular boy, then he’ll dump you, then some girls will decide to be mean to you for no reason. Know that people’s actions are always informed by their experiences; so basically, nothing that anybody does is only about you. They are dealing with their own shit and the sooner you can digest that and try to find your empathy bone, the better.
– You tell great stories. For now that just makes you a cool friend and an entertaining family member, but when you fine tune that ability, you’ll be able to connect with people on a level you never imagined possible. Keep communicating.
– The harsh words you spew at your mom when you’re angry will come back to haunt you in 13 years when you give birth to your first child. Be mindful of people’s feelings – especially those of the people who love you.
– You are not a failure because you are bad at math, science and computers. Your brain works in a way that makes those number-driven, technical subjects hard to understand. Do your very best with them and don’t beat yourself up over the results.
– School teaches you very little other than how to learn and what you like. Use it as an opportunity to really figure out how you learn the most effectively. Having that knowledge will help you no matter what career path you choose.
– When it comes to your future, dream about it, set goals, let your imagination run wild, but don’t worry about it – you will come to find that the things you plan seldom happen, and the things you don’t plan happen much more frequently. Your life is beautiful now, and I promise it will get even more so as time passes.
– Believe in luck, but remember that luck is the point at which preparation meets opportunity, so never pass up a chance to learn something new or experience something different. Everything you do is preparing you for something bigger, more intense, more wonderful, so think twice before you give less than 100%.
Nikita, you have a family who loves you, friends who accept you, a private school education at your fingertips, and you have never had to pay FOR ANYTHING in your entire existence (unfortunately, you will only know how fucking great that is in hindsight). Life is good now, but it’s only going to get better as the days go by so worry less and enjoy more. Oh and stop drinking Coca Cola, that shit will kill you.