To my 16 year old self

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Hey! Hey you! With the Friends haircut and helmet bangs!!!

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You are between conflicts in Iraq so I’m unclear as to what you are trying to deflect with that thick fringe of awesome. I have it on good authority that they did not hold special powers for you so please hurry up and grow them out.

Now. I know you are VERY proud of that uniform. I know you trained your butt off to get there. Years of ballet and jazz and tap. I particularly respect how you practiced your tryout dance by yourself in the backyard. Booty shaking and blasting Coolio while your Southern Baptist neighbors watched from their porch.

You worked hard for it and you didn’t care what other people thought. I know it’s hard to have that attitude about life as a whole in high school but you’re learning and it will take you far in the long run. However, you will forget this for awhile in college, engage in some lemming like behavior, and have a time finding your way.

But I promise you, finding that again is just as satisfying as pop, lock, and dropping it in front of the fundamentalist freaks. It will also keep you somewhat sane when you face some major adversities.

Back to the uniform. You are struggling…don’t deny it because I KNOW…because on the outside you are this proper little package. On the inside, you are an observant ball of sarcasm, cynicism and sensitivity. Can I tell you a secret? THAT’S OK! Just because you can’t relate to girls who squeal OMG doesn’t matter. Move on. Again, these qualities that you’re so insecure about and try to hide will carry you far. Want another secret? You will come across this way your whole life and it will let you get away with murder. Seriously. You say something snarky and people will never be sure if you’re kidding or not! It will also be a great coping mechanism.

Other things you are struggling with…just let them all go. None of them matter. That boy- he will be quite insignificant. Calculus- also insignificant . I assure you that you will never need to know when Train A passes Train B at whatever speeds because you will end up flying everywhere. You will never get busted skipping physics. You will be shocked to know what your parents are actually aware of just as they will be shocked at what they missed. No sweetheart, I’m not going to tell you which because I gotta keep you on your game.

So what do I tell you here from the future that would be of value?

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This. This picture. Fourth from the right.

In about 10 seconds after this is taken, you are going to do something that will get you in trouble and that you will beat yourself up about.

In the original choreography, everyone moves to a straight line and does a stag. Because it is such a hard jump and not everyone can do it, they change it to a straight jump. But you will be pumped full of adrenaline and nerves and will execute a full, technically beautiful stag all by yourself. Your coach and team will be upset because you were the only one who did it. You will be upset because you feel like you ruined the dance.

Sweetie, I’ve seen the video. I’ve seen that perfect jump. I’ve seen your big smile. I’m not going to tell you about any of your physical struggles that will start in 10 years…yes, you read that correctly. But I will tell you this: live that moment and soak up that perfect jump.

Don’t be hard on yourself for that.

Be hard on yourself for the bangs.

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