Dear Jen/Jenni/Jennifer (depends on the year and location) –
First, when you’re flogging yourself for being chubby and undateable in high school – stop. Just stop. You’re strong, capable of holding another girl on your shoulders while cheering! You can heave a freaking shot put and discus! You are not fat – you’re athletic and STRONG.
Second, you need to push yourself – fight for your education – push yourself beyond the comfortable, the easy. Work hard at the art and take risks! If you want to try to study art in college, then freaking DO IT! If you want to be a writer, GO FOR IT! You can be or do just about anything.
In college? Ok, so you got a raw deal with a couple of roommates at the beginning, but that doesn’t mean you can’t make amazing friends at school. It doesn’t mean that you can’t try acting, art, go on trips abroad… I want you to just believe in yourself like others believe in you and, you know what? Have fun! Also, your girlfriends in school – and even your guy friends – will stay with you so much longer than any guy you hook up with.
So, here’s the hard part – sex, hooking up, all that jazz? Those are not the ways to get a guy to like you or love you. And – even more important? You should never, ever, EVER feel like or even believe that you have to “make” someone like you. In fact, if you believe that you have to change yourself to fit into a mold or to not be too much yourself, then you need to run, screaming, in the other direction. You are special, and talented, funny and kind, smart and sassy. You have a big body – it’s a big beauty in you, girl. That soft body will allow you to soothe children and be mothering – it will offer a strong shoulder for your friends to cry on – it will support you for many thousands of miles and years of adventures that others will never have the guts to try.
And, finally, please don’t settle. I know it seems like you love Vinny – he’s not a bad guy. But, maybe you don’t need to be engaged to live together. And maybe you don’t need to rush into getting married. Once you get engaged, the whole wedding thing is like a train off the tracks – just racing forward without any brakes. Even if you start to have qualms, you won’t feel like you can stop things or slow them down – so take your time. Make sure you really, truly believe it’s going to last (and, fyi, it’s not going to last).
Love you – so much,
Your older and wiser self!