Dear 16-year-old Carly,
Hello you sweet kid with the awkwardly short hair and affinity for poor fitting pants. It’s been a long time. In fact, it took a very long time for me to conjure up my memories of what your 16-year-old life must be like, because at this point, it feels like a million years again (okay, it was only eight years).
I’m coming to you from the future with some words of wisdom, some warnings, and as you’ve probably guessed, some cat pictures. Yes, even at 24 you’ve started to travel the path of the cat ladies, and you know what, it just feels right. About now you’re probably stressing about your AP exams and your decision to quit dance in order to pursue music. Fun fact, post high school, neither of these things will truly matter so get some damn sleep (you always swear much, MUCH more in the future).
The college you get into won’t be your first choice — or second or third if we’re being honest — but it was meant to be. If you hadn’t gone to UC Irvine (well, I guess that surprise is out of the way) you would have never fallen into journalism and started working in violence prevention. And two years post-college, I can’t imagine either of these passions not being a part of your life.
As for your 16-year-old friendships and relationships, I want to share with you one simple thing: The people that truly matter will stay your friends so don’t waste your time with complicated friendships. Ain’t nobody got time for that. Plus, Imali and you are still best friends in the future, and it’s wonderful.
When it comes to boys, you’re going to make a lot of awkward decisions. Like a lot. At the same time, you’re going to meet a couple wonderful guys who teach you how to be a great partner in a relationship. And at the end of college, you’re going to fall in love with this guy. Word of advice, trust your gut and ask him out on a date sooner. He’s pretty cool.
I do hate to inform you that you will go through a major tragedy that will shape your entire life. It will be horrible and give your horrendous nightmares for many years to come. But this event will ultimately do two things for you: One, it will spur your passion for violence prevention and make you even more of a fighter than you already are, and two, it will push you to always tell people how much they matter to you. So if you see Uncle Glen, give him a big hug for me, his 6’5 presence is greatly missed in my life.
On a lighter note, you get cooler glasses, and in the future, really grow into yourself and your style. Please stop trying to prove your toughness to people by being the opposite of girly. You can wear dresses and still be tough, I promise. Oh, and you don’t get any better at putting on makeup so you might as well let that boat sail right now. You also barely stop biting your nails so maybe try a little harder on that one sooner.
Your life is going to be so rich, and although so many mistakes come to mind, I wouldn’t want you to change anything. It’s those missteps that lead you into where we are right now: Living in Los Angeles with two adorable cats, writing for numerous publications, taking adventures as they come, and being surrounded by your favorite people.
And most importantly, you come to love beer, so you have that to look forward too.
A future hug from your future self,