Dear 16 year old headcheese:
You know things will change as you get older, and you know they will be better. That’s good. You should keep that.
But you don’t know what will change. You think that you will achieve your goals, have your career, and travel. You think you’ve found someone with whom you’ll spend your life; you don’t love that idea, because you don’t love him, but at least you’ve found someone who wants you. You think he will hold the center while the changes swirl and coagulate. You are wrong.
It’s not the changes that will swirl around him, or you, or anything you hold dear. You will be what changes. Someone will achieve some of your goals. Someone will fail miserably at others. And someone will have different goals that they may or may not achieve. But that person will not be you. There is no center. The person you know as yourself today will be gone.
I know that right now, when you board a flight, you wonder who will sit next to you. You hope it will be someone really special, some marvelously brilliant, entrancing man or woman who will be the One for You, and you are just scooting down the taxiway of your life as it takes off before your eyes. (Yes, you do think in those terms, and you do mix your metaphors. I know.) In ten years, you will hope that no one sits beside you, and that if someone does, they won’t smell bad and won’t try to talk to you.
You’ll stop staring out the window trying to make out landmarks. You’ll do a sudoku instead. Really.
I know you think that if you aren’t with Him, you’ll be Alone, which is the very worst thing to be. You’ll find out that it’s not that bad. One day you’ll look at his face and be glad you don’t have to see it in bed beside you, whether there is another face there or not. You’ll be truly glad that he presses himself against someone else at night, and not you.
I know that you think being the best is the golden ticket that will grant you a lifetime of free… everything, including unlimited self-respect. It’s not, and even if it were, you will never be the best. The chances are statistically ridiculous. You’re building your life around the equivalent of winning the lottery.
Someday, the person you become will tell the magical little child you help create that being smart isn’t everything, that hard work and patience and social skills pay off. It will take you much longer to convince yourself, and when you do, it will take everything you have to sort through the shards and piece yourself back together. You will never be the same.
You will eventually confess to yourself that you would rather watch Star Trek again than go to a modern art museum.
The colors of the world will change. They will fade and blur. Where you once saw vivid tones that inspired and excited and frightened you, you will be left with shades muted by their transient coexistence. Where you once saw silhouettes you will see shadows, and it will be not the world that transformed, but your eyes.