A letter to my high school self
I was recently asked to write a letter to my high school self sharing insight along with an image of me working to be shared at the high school I graduated from.
This is what I wrote . . .
Dear high school Keegan,
Contrary to what people say, high school really isn't the “best years of your life” so stop freaking out that you aren’t enjoying high school. Not to sound cliche but you have so much of your life ahead of you and you will experience so much joy, happiness, fun, and connection after high school. Everybody’s going through their own thing, so be kind to everyone; including yourself.
Also, the things (homecoming, boys, popularity) that you think are so important don’t matter at all after high school. I know it seems SO IMPORTANT right now and not to minimize your experience but it just isn’t that relevant later.
You’ll get diagnosed with depression your senior year and put on antidepressants. It’s okay and in hindsight, if that had come earlier in your life it probably would have made dealing with teenage drama much easier.
You are way smarter and intelligent then you give yourself credit for and you’ll use your life experience to help others navigate their own challenges in their lives. As your grandmother used to tell you, remember where and who you come from.
Also, don’t buy into the belief that you aren’t good at math. That’s a generic statement that gets thrown out to young girls that just isn’t true. A more accurate statement is that you are really good at math, you just aren’t that interested in it and that’s okay but don’t let the belief that you aren’t good at it dictate what you can do in your future.
There will be people who tell you aren’t good enough or have what it takes to be successful at the things that you love. They are coming from a place of love and their statements are based in their own conditioning of what they think success is. Don’t listen to them. You have more drive, commitment, and discipline than you realize. Tap into that and run with it.
Also, don’t buy into that nagging voice in your head that tells you you aren’t good enough, smart enough, pretty enough; all of the "enoughs". Pay more attention in psychology class so that you can learn early on that that voice is the part of the brain that is trying to keep you safe. It sounds counterintuitive but seriously, your brain is hardwired to have this harsh inner critic. That inner critic ISN’T YOU although you believe that for years. It’s an expression of the safety instinct that is trying to protect you from emotional risk such as failure, disappointment, rejection, and hurt. Notice it, thank it, and keep moving. You’ve got this. Also that voice will get loud, questioning, “What’s wrong with me??!!”. Absolutely NOTHING.
It’s okay not to know what you want to do with your life by the end of your senior year or even in college. You are a free spirit and will change careers multiple times because you can’t put yourself in a box. Embrace that. Trust yourself. Trust your intuition.
Embrace your talents, your uniqueness, your expressiveness, and your boldness. Not everyone will be comfortable with how brightly you shine. Do not dim your light for them. Shine brighter and invite them to shine with you.