This is my fourth letter in a series of five. Written to myself at a certain age, these letters are used as a way to reflect, regret and appreciate the person I was and am today. You can read the letter of 6, 13, and 16 at those links.
Today, I bring you 18. Big cheers for legality!
Dear Michelle at 18,
Wow. 18… 18. You have waited for this day, dreamed about it, pinned over it, and possibly drooled on the calendar waiting for the moment when you could declare: INDEPENDENT.
… Now that it’s here, you’d rather go back.
Dont get me wrong- Europe was fabulous. Memories you made in Munich, Mt. Titilis, and Paris will forever stay with you. For almost three incredible weeks, you were a girl of the world- well traveled, versed in humanity, and inspired by all things European. You were finally the gal that got to say (with all that Mary Tyler Moore gumption), “Paris in the early summer is just darling.”
Then you came home and started college.
13 years of planning your college experience couldn’t have done you less of a service. This was no place to become a totally new person. It was not the place to try to pretend that you were more than what you were raised to be. Even with Europe and a new found confidence, you still reverted to the same, shy Michelle everyone knew after the car accident. It was hard for you to make any meaningful relationship. And that will sadly haunt you for the next three years of college.
On the other hand, you will fall in love. You will fall so hard, so fast that no one will see it coming. Your roommate will sing 3am versions of “I Found Love” and you will make very public dedications over the radio airwaves. All it took was one glance at his sideburns to know that something special was blossoming on that winter night.
Your first impressions and initial feelings were right on. This is something real, and for the first time, you were able to say that you loved someone passionately, without restrictions. Looking back at all the moments you had and shared over that 3 year span, I still get a spark of excitement and naive wonderment.
However, this isn’t it. As much as you want it to be as simple as that. You’ll break his heart and regret it for a long time until you realize that, at 18, you were too young to understand the kind of love you were capable of. You were too immature to think that you could be one of those nagging, harsh, bitter girlfriends. You blew it because you were ill-equipped and blind to your flaws.
I wish you didn’t have to go through that. I wish you didn’t have to spend 3 years afraid to lose something so important to you. And I very much wish you didn’t have to deal with the scars almost two years later.
You cant say that this isn’t what you wanted though. Part of being the “girl of the world” is that you have to deal with heartache and sorrow. It comes with the independence territory. And you will soon learn how to be your own island to visit.
Welcome to the world, new Michelle.
Yourself, 5 years later.