“Dear Young Person: A Letter To My Younger Self” – by Madison Loughlin


Dear young person, 

Hello there. How are you doing? I am writing this letter in the hopes of someday assisting you in some part of your life. That said, I am also writing this with a handful of caveats and hopes. First, I hope the world you live in is a changed one. Second, I am a young person myself and still have much to experience. Being young—or even just being human—is confusing. You’ll lose yourself, and you’ll find yourself again. Just when you think you understand, you’ll be smacked in the face by uncertainty. Third, I hope you don’t take this letter too seriously; this is advice, not doctrine. Advice is a form of nostalgia and must be approached with caution. Finally, I’ve arranged these tidbits in no particular order; they are random and organic. Please encounter them as such. Caveats offered, let us begin:

Don’t fear rejection and failure, but fear regret. Failure is an answer. Rejection is an answer. Regret is a question you will never have the answer to. 

Some people are meant to stick around for a certain amount of time. Friends may leave us, but they impact us nonetheless.

Take many pictures. Don’t let it take over your life, though. You don’t want to look back and see that you only captured your memories through your camera lens.

Read a news article every morning.

Practice saying no, and stop saying yes when you want to say no.

Break out in song and dance when given the opportunity. 

Drink water. 

Don’t be reckless with other people’s hearts, and don’t put up with people who are reckless with yours. 

Always say yes to dessert. Unless you are diabetic. Then proceed with the necessary discretion.

Have a designated place for your keys and wallet. 

Hold on to pieces of your past, but don’t get wrapped up in what was. The past is a place to visit not to live. 

Stop comparing yourself to celebrities and magazine ads.

Confidence is attractive.

Keep old letters, birthday cards, and notes.

Not everyone will love you.

Always carry around chapstick and a pen. 

Read books and poems. Write down what you don’t want to forget.

Learn a new word every day. 

Admit when you’re wrong. 

People change. Ask yourself if you love their present self or are clinging onto their past self.

Be spontaneous. Some of the most memorable experiences occur when you least expect them.

Apply sunscreen (and not just once, you sneak). 

Timing is never perfect. If you care about something enough, you will make the time. 

Their prettiness does not make your prettiness any less pretty. 

Feel everything and let it hurt, but don’t go back to what broke you. 

Music has an indescribable ability to connect and heal. 

Also, please don’t remove songs from your playlist because people criticize them. 

Look up from your phone. There is a living, breathing world in front of you that cannot be accessed through a device. You miss out on too many things when you are absorbed in devices. 

When you buy ice cream on a cone, make sure to ask for a cup because it’s incredibly frustrating when those napkins become sodden with melted sugar. 

Stay up for the sunrise at least once. 

If you want something to happen, make it happen. The world doesn’t owe you anything.

Lying about significant things never has a positive outcome. That said, it’s totally fine to tell someone that they look great when they don’t.

Loving someone is not a good enough reason to stick around and potentially hinder your growth.

Age does not equate to wisdom. 

If you need help, ask for it.

Don’t argue if you’re not well-researched (seriously, always support your claims with evidence). 

Experience is the best teacher. 

Crying can be a sign of strength and emotional maturation. 

Strong people build one another up instead of tearing each other down. 

Embrace your imperfections. 

Call old friends and ask them how they are doing. 

Spend more time exploring art museums.

Your grades don’t define you. 

Enjoy your body. Don’t be afraid of it or of what other people think of it.

You can’t control other people’s reactions, but you can control your reaction to them.

Practice your handshake. Make sure it’s firm. 

Never keep working at something when you’re not learning or happy.

The minute you feel your happiness is dictated by someone else, take a break from them.

Be aware of grammar. Read that email over one more time.

Be nice to everyone. You never know what someone else is going through. Also, you never know when they will appear in your life again. Think about how you want to be remembered. 

Look people in the eye.

Don’t wear uncomfortable shoes.

If you are tired, rest. All-nighters aren’t worth it. 

More is not necessarily better.

When you make a mistake, don’t beat yourself up about it.

Prom is not the best night of your life. Go anyways.

Always know where the exit is. 

When entrusted with a secret, keep it.

Find solace in your solitude. 

Practice self-care. It’s not selfish to take care of your mind, emotions, and body.

If it won’t matter in five years, don’t spend more than five minutes worrying about it. 

Don’t make anyone feel like you don’t deserve what you want.

When in doubt, research Winnie the Pooh quotes; Pooh is one clever bear. 

Surround yourself with people who will challenge and question you.

Walk down streets you’ve never been down before. 

Don’t spend too much time reading advice.

That’s all for now. I’m still learning myself.