To my younger self,
You haven’t begun to process it yet. Your last summer at home before your life tilts on its axis is about to start, and it will be a whirlwind. You will spend two months doing all of your favorite things with most of your favorite people, and you’ll feel the countdown clock becoming gradually louder in your ear until it’s deafening and there’s not enough time left to do it all again, never enough time. You’ll yearn to repeat every interaction again, go everywhere you’ve ever been just one more time in a desperate attempt to evade the unknown of everything that comes next.
I know what comes next, and you’ll be okay.
You’ll leave home before you feel ready (even though you know you’d never really be ready) and feel like you’re floating without an anchor for a few weeks. Somehow, the fifty miles separating you from the town you grew up in will make you feel closer to it than you did while you were there every day. Returning home will feel as if you’ve never left because it’s so ingrained in your way of life, but it will also appear as though an eternity has passed since you’ve been gone.
You’ll see photos of Louisville, of home, and realize that most people around you have never seen that landscape or the people that gave my experience there its personality. It will suddenly dawn on you that you’re clustered with thousands of people who led vastly different lives than yours that you’ve barely begun to discern. You’ll want nothing more than to share your memories with others because that makes you feel like yourself again, but sometimes you’ll need to decipher who you are after those memories have passed.
College will bring you back to your simplest form. Without the ties of your past, you’ll rediscover some of the things that built you into yourself while you were young, and you’ll use those things to rebuild those parts into yourself as you grow older. You’ll need to find the words to define what you’re thinking all over again, and you’ll notice that these words have matured since the last time you’ve needed them at fourteen.
You’ll be around everyone all of the time, which will make you realize that your fundamental propensity for finding something to do or a place to go will fade; you’ll miss your old tendency toward introspection. You’ll miss having your own space at times because creating space for yourself from scratch is difficult and becoming comfortable takes time.
Becoming comfortable takes time. The time won’t slow, and it will sometimes feel as though it is progressing without increasing your competence, as you expected it would, but you are still growing. You’ll see it when you try to fit back into the mindset you had before—something is different; you’ve started to grow up.
I don’t know what comes next, but I’ll be okay.