My Dear Evil Annie Woo (February 1996),
Happy 16th Birthday. It was quite a day, eh? Stop pretending that you're embarrassed by all of the attention and just admit that you loved it. Now, I'm 31, about twice your age. It sounds old, but most days I feel younger than I did at your age. That crazy Algebra teacher was right when she told you that your 30s would be awesome.
Here's some advice that might allow you to stop worrying a bit:
Your dad will disappear for good this year. I know that you don't really care now, but later in life, you will dwell on it. He is NOT worth it. Focus more on the amazing people, like your mom and sisters, that always there for you. Enjoy every minute with your Grandma and Grandpa and ask lots of questions. You will miss them so much when they are gone.
You're a smart girl. Sometimes people will give you a hard time because things seem to come so easy for you. It's not necessarily true. You work hard and put your heart into things, so don't let anyone make you feel like you can't enjoy and be proud of yourself for all of the wonderful things you're about to accomplish.
This one is extremely important, I know that people like to tell you that you're too emotional... fuck them. Being emotional is a gift, and it makes you extremely special. Think of all of the people who you love and admire for being emotional... Paul Simon, Eddie Vedder, John Lennon, John Steinbeck, and John Hughes... and so many more to come as you get older. Plus, emotions fuel your writing and make it beautiful.
Sometimes you question not fitting in. Stick to your ideals. Somewhere in your mid-twenties you start giving up your ideals to fit in. It makes you very, VERY unhappy. You see the world differently and while that can set you apart, it also ensures that you are surrounded by people who love you for exactly who you are. There won't be a shortage.
I would tell you to stop being so boy crazy, but you won't change. I know. Try to be more sincere and open with the ones you really care about. I know that it intimidates and makes you feel insecure, but there are a few that you let get away by being too scared. You'll really regret that. There isn't a shortage of wonderful boys that can see you, but you're going to have to open your eyes and stop focusing on the troubled ones all the time.
I know that you love McDonald's fries and Smarties, but give us a break in the future and throw some healthier foods in there sometimes?
Keep writing and designing those journals. The all caps is annoying and sometimes I laugh at the mellow drama in the poetry, but they still bring me tremendous joy. Remember that writing and art can always heal you and will keep you strong and emotionally healthy.
Oh, and you have an awesome record collection. When you try to get rid of it and Mom asks you repeatedly if you are sure, listen to her. You will be sick over what you gave away and spend a lot of money trying to get it back.
Mostly, you are amazing. Look forward to the future, but make sure that you are having fun and enjoying it, ok?
With all of my love,
Your slightly older yet still awesome self in November 2011.
Update: Just to explain, this blog post is in response to a lovely book called Dear Me, which is a collection of letters that celebrities wrote to their 16 year old selves with advice. A few months back, I posted about the British version and since then a great American edition has been released. I submitted my letter and it is now included on the blog. You should check it out here, look around, read other posts, and write one of your own. It is such a great concept and does wonders for cleaning out some of the adolescent rubbish that lingers in your brain.