Two weeks ago Pam Frampton penned a letter to her 19 year old self that held many strong messages we can all relate to (Pam's fantastic column can be found here: https://www.thetelegram.com/opinion/columnists/pam-frampton-a-letter-to-my-19-year-old-self-247701/)
Upon reading I found myself thinking, "What a wonderful exercise." Reflection can be a brilliant, or a painstaking tool, and I like to believe we all have much to learn from it.
And then I wondered, "What would I tell 19 year old me now?"
Look around - these people around you are diverse, and all have a part in your life that shapes you. By the time you are 36 most of them will be gone. You will reflect, they will pop up in memories sometimes, or in stories in rooms when you are talking about the past. They will go. Very few will remain. But soak them all up now, their words and experiences.
You will leave him. It is coming soon, and you will hit your breaking point, walk away and say no more. You will heal, and you will use this as fuel for so much in your life. The abuse stops now, and it will make you fierce.
Stay true to yourself. You owe nothing to anyone. No matter how many people tell you how you should be, what you need to change, how you should shape yourself to fit their ideals - do not. Stick to who you are and embrace it. You will not always be everyone's cup of tea, but that is okay and you will learn to accept that. Those who cannot accept you are not worth your energy.
There are bad people in this world. You will find many, but you will learn lessons from them all to take you through the rest of this messy life. Even when you sit and feel duped, at times when you think you have it all figured out, just remember - learn. Take the experience. Sometimes the hurt will burn like a thousand fires, and only you can put them out.
You will not finish your academic career as a forensic anthropologist. I know, right? Crazy. You will actually realize what a huge part of your person and being the fishery is and will dedicate your life to the industry that has sustained your family and community for decades. I know you might not believe me, but it is true. And you will realize that the things you have taken for granted deserve your energy now.
Mom and dad will be your best friends. I know it is hard to fathom now, but you have just moved out and are experiencing your freedom for the first time. Everything will come full circle. Appreciate them and all they have to give you. Listen to the stories, their experiences. They are usually right, even though your stubborn pride will often not let you believe it.
What makes you different are all qualities that will bring you to understand yourself, eventually. You will grow into the quirks, the stubbornness, the one liners, the chewed nails, lack of makeup and the entirety of who you are. People will criticize, they will judge and they will try to change you. To those people you say, "Fuck off," and keep doing you.
Oh, and you will be a part of so many wonderful hockey teams that your love of the sport will turn into a massive part of your life. You will meet so many people, laugh until you hurt, and will once again find that comradeship you had to leave behind when you were no longer a DC Destroyer. You will be 36, the sorest person on earth, but every time you lace up you will be in your happy place.
And finally, you will never fit the ideals laid out for how and who you should be - and that is okay. It is easy to look at your life and wonder why it does not look like others, but it is good and you will be okay. That small apartment on Colville will turn into a small apartment on Freshwater, Malta, Abbott, Terra Nova, a house you will leave due to a failed relationship, and other small apartments. Relationships fail, friendships end, and life circumstances change. Through it all, you persist.
You land your dream job. You are loved by two little furbags who adore you. There is hurt, there are hardships, but you gain the tools to work through it all over the next 17 years. And there are good people who come along. Wait for them.
Keep your head up, kid.
Keep pushing, keep asking questions, keep challenging when something does not seem fair or right, and use the voice you find. You will find it very shortly. You have been finding it for a while now (thanks, Mr. Broderick!)
And, most of all, remember what one of your mentors will post one day that will stick with you: "This living, it is messy, but it is beautiful."