Dear Teen Kaye…

I’ve written letters to my future self, but what about my past self? She’s long gone, so maybe writing from that perspective is pointless. But I’ve always wished I could somehow reach into the past and let my child and teenage selves see the future. After all, as a teenager, I was actively planning not to have a future.

It’s hard to imagine what my exact thoughts would be. I’d be in disbelief, but what would I, at 16, say to myself at 28? Really, I have no idea. But I know what I, at 28, would say to myself at 16.

Addressed to: 16-year-old Kaye

Hey, sweetie. We need to talk. I’m 28 at the moment. I have a lot to tell you, and I need you to read carefully, okay?

First of all, stop dieting. Yes, I’m serious. Stop it. You gain weight anyway, and it’s really not so terrible. Enjoy your skinny body while you can. Yes, you are skinny. Stop drowning in social media. It will never serve you well. And yes, you’re gorgeous. Teenagers are mean. Adults are too. Really, just stop freaking out over how you look. You’re fine. Stop listening to your family while you’re at it. Haven’t you noticed they don’t have any hair?

Time for a cliche: it gets better. It really does. Not perfect, but better. But if you want it to be better sooner, you really must get comfortable with your family being mad at you. They will never be happy. Want to know why? Because they didn’t do what they want with their lives. You’re supposed to be their “do-over”. Don’t do that. I’m not saying do something stupid, but find a mentor or something. Your family is not helping you.

Let’s talk about dreams. They changed a lot. But that’s not bad. You grew up and learned better. You don’t have to be the same person for the rest of your life. Just ensure the change is for you. I’ll give you some happy news. You get a boyfriend. But having one is nothing like the sitcoms and cartoons. It’s worth it, but you really need to explore your expectations. You don’t get the big house or the high flying career, but you don’t want them. Seriously, how did it take you this long to realize you hate working?

Use social media to keep in touch with your friends and nothing more. Gather all of them there. That’s an order! That’s one big regret you will have. Just keep them. You’ll find new friends, but they won’t give you the same feelings as your current friends. Time is not fast, but when it’s gone, you’ll wonder where it went. You don’t have as much of it as you think. You will spend a ridiculous amount of time longing for years long gone when they really weren’t so good. Turn off the nostalgia filter. You miss the age, the smaller body, and the cartoons. I miss them too. It’s okay to miss them. There’s a reason ignorance is bliss.

Look up “personal finance”. Do it. Now. Look up everything. You need to start while you’re at this age. Really, it would’ve been better for you to start from the time you had an allowance, but can’t fault you for what you weren’t taught. Our family doesn’t know, or you’d have had investments before you were born. Whatever. Just do it now. Skip the college while you’re at it. Yes, I said skip college. You don’t know what you want, you go only because your family says so, and you end up in debt. It snowballs from there. So, skip the college and invest until you know what you want. In the meantime, work and save money to avoid getting kicked out of school because you’re poor.

If you need a summary – and since I would know you best, you do – the short version is: gather all friends on social media, start investing, and skip college. You’re welcome.

Oh, and study Spanish. Rigorously. Your boyfriend is Hispanic.

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