This year marks 15 years since graduating from high school. Here's some retrospective wisdom that High School Me should probably HEAR but certainly wouldn't have followed because, you know, teenagers.
  1. Get a pair of Doc Marten's. Wear the shit out of them. They will look awesome with everything you wear.
    Seriously though... You can pull them off.
  2. You are not "fat."
    And, of course, what you mean by "fat" is ugly. You are not ugly. You have a solid physique that swims the long-distant events at meets, marches through countless hours of band practice, and can hold up a strapless gown like a regal badass bitch. Be kinder to yourself and to others... knocking other bodies won't make you feel any better about yours.
  3. You are NOT just one thing. If you define yourself by the 'one thing,' then you will be lost if it doesn't work out.
    You play the flute and that's cool, but it doesn't define you. Acknowledge your intellect, which you often underestimate because it doesn't fit in the box that you've built up around yourself. Give science and math more of a shot. Listen to your damn lit teacher and write more! Listen to the somewhat nutty art teacher and use a bigger medium for your creativity. You will never just be one thing in life and that is OK.
  4. That boy you date is a tool and it's OK to dump him sooner than you did.
    If you're worried about going to dances alone, glean a date from your brother's herd of loud and obnoxious friends, who you feel comfortable with and love like family. Glean from THEIR friends. Keeping a dude who treats you like an afterthought because you don't want to go to Homecoming by yourself is ridiculous.
  5. Before you open your uninformed squawker about matters of race and inequality, listen first; ask questions, inquire, and read a few things.
    You will alienate people with your non-opinions on matters that you have no personal experience with. Sometimes it's better to just say, "I have no opinion but I'd love to hear yours." You may even make more friends that way.
  6. Those panic attacks that make you feel out-of-control and crazy on a regular basis?
    You will eventually get help for them. They come from a place that's trying to come to terms with a past that was way bigger than anything your child-brain could process. You WILL get help and you are not doing anything wrong just by feeling scared. Be nicer to yourself about that, even when others are not.
  7. It's OK to piss your mom off sometimes
    You've lost out on a lot of fun experiences because of your fear of letting down the adults in your life, who are all flawed in their ways and at times, expect too much of you. Teen years are meant for pushing buttons and experimenting with all of life's offerings. You have a very good sense of what could harm you, so just enjoy everything else that's not going to kill you, impregnate you, or get you locked up.
  8. That boy who got the shit kicked out of him because he wasn't "masculine" enough...
    You were totally in the right for defending him, especially considering the boy you had a crush on played a huge part in all of that and your efforts alienated you for a short time. Your temporary discomfort at defending another human is worth it. You have a good brain in your head. Cherish that.
  9. Do everything in your best power to leave home for college.
    DePaul offered you a liberal arts scholarship for your high grades in literature, as well as your stunning admissions essay, and you turned it down because it wasn't music. You went to an OK school that was more local because you could play music, but the frustrations associated with a faltering interest in your chosen path, combined with stress at home killed your grades and now you're stuck. Next time, go with the option that allows you to move away and be your own person.
    You got the pink one because you felt like prom dresses should be pink and princessy. But that strapless hot-orangish iridescent one with red and gold accents and the trailing firey train at your heels made you look like a Phoenix rising from the ashes. You will have a shit time at prom anyway... Might as well look like a man-eater at your last social 'hurrah' and at least be able to say you felt like a goddess instead of lower royalty.