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Dear Sharon - 1 Decade,

Hello, how are you? You are just in the midst of high school now, what a glorious time. I just wanted to tell you some things I wish I had known when I was your age.

1) You need to learn how to say "No". I know, it's a work in progress; I'm still working on it.

That's really the one thing you need to really learn. Now, here's a little update for your heart. Sharon, you've always been a heart over matter kind of person: it's just who we are (I am? You are? I'm having a bit of trouble figuring out which possessive pronoun to use). You know how the person you're dating is kind of important to you? Truth is, you're not going to marry him, and it's not going to last even half as long as you thought. You're going to be sad, which is normal, but it's okay. This is why I am telling you to learn how to say "No".

Let's be honest, you crave feeling loved. Don't say that you don't; I am you, so I know. You liked the way he liked you, and you just felt like you wouldn't get any better, so you went for it. Especially when your sister and best friend were dating, too. The real heart break actually comes in a couple of years, when you date the person you've been interested in this entire time. Yes, the guy who you liked when he was playing around with his calculator on the bus, and silently bounces in laughter instead of laughing out loud. I'm not going to get into details, but he completely crushed you. You got sick. Really sick. The stress and depression really got to you. You actually missed most of Junior and Senior year because of it. But, you got through it. You're pretty strong. It still haunts you. Spoiler: you won't want to be serious with anyone who doesn't introduce you to his parents anymore. You'll still have a long journey when it comes to romance, and to be honest, it's not the most important thing in the world. You're going to walk away from someone because you realize your values don't align. You're going to walk away from someone because your values are so similar. You're going to have a fling with someone who is forbidden. You're going to fall for someone who takes care of you when you get a panic attack. You're going to have your heart bruised a bit when the person you thought you were dating introduces you to his girlfriend. You're going to have your heart broken again when you give your all to a relationship, and he doesn't want to let you even try. You're going to slowly heal. You're going to hurt whenever you think about past lovers and lovers that couldn't be, but you're going to get better at walking away.

You know how you feel really lonely and unloved right now? You're going to feel even worse once you get into college. And then worse still once you graduate. You're going to end up without any family by your side, and you'll spend Christmases alone. You'll have to pull money out of nowhere, but don't worry: God will provide. I know, I know. It sounds crazy coming from me, but you'll find that there isn't anything greater than God. You'll slowly learn to say "no" when it comes to doing personal favours for people, and you'll eventually begin to say "no" when people ask you to go way above and beyond your abilities. You learn to challenge yourself to say "no", and only reach towards goals that you have, not goals for other people. It's still hard, most of the time, to say "no". It's hard to stop thinking they'll hate you if you don't do "this" for them. It's hard, and I'm still working on it.

Spend time with your family, even if it's hard. Spend time with your friends, even if your introverted side wants you to stay at home and hide. You'll end up across the nation with almost no one to confide in and laugh with. Well, to be fair, you will go across the WORLD first, but that's besides the point. You will be a nomad, and nomads have a hard time going back to where they began. You'll treasure the memories you have with people. You will want to keep in contact with the friends you have in high school, because I have failed you; I've only really kept in contact with a couple people, and it gets lonely. Especially when you see other high school acquaintances stay close with their high school friends. But remember this: friends aren't the people that you can give the most to, but the people who don't mind giving you in your weakest. You'll realize that you have kept some of the truest friends, even if few. Again, you really should have said "no" a lot more often in high school.

Not everyone is going to listen to you, respect you, or like you. In fact, you're a great leader when it comes to leading a few passionate people. Your passion can inspire those around you, but it's not going to impact a huge group. That's not where your leadership skills lie, and don't be ashamed or sad when you can't make a huge difference. You're more of a domino piece than a bomb: that doesn't make you any less effective. It just means you make more lasting impressions that lead to a chain reaction, rather than a single, explosive reaction that ends in a moment. There's nothing wrong with either or, and you shouldn't think there's anything wrong with you. Keep doing you.

You'll eventually land a job that makes you a lot of money. But don't worry, all that money will be drained when you quit the job for a much more emotionally satisfying job. I know, what a rebel. Remember: respect yourself. Money is important, but there's nothing more important than your well being. You should never be having panic attacks because of a job. You should never stay in a job with sexually abusive bosses for money. If you wanted to do that, prostitution will get you even more money.

Don't worry about too much. I'm still a huge worrywart, and it drives people crazy, but hey: God has you. You'll be fine. At least for another ten years. :) You'll pretty much still look the same, just chubbier and with horrible eyebags. On the bright side, you've somehow maintained the same bestfriend for all these years: proof is in the photos! Yeah, you both look the same as before Just with some makeup on.

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