Hey there, I’m your 37 year old self. It’s been awhile and it’s great to see you. I know this is super weird, but I have some things to share with you that in about 20 years will make so much more sense. So, just bear with me here.

Me, at 16 in Oxford, North Carolina

First of all, I want to tell you how beautiful you are. I know that you feel like you are overweight because you wear a size 12 in juniors jeans and your family doesn’t have a lot of money to buy all the labels that are supposed to be “cool”, but I promise you….none of that crap matters. There will be days ahead that your body that you are now cursing on the daily will perform miraculous and incredible things. You will end up being able to buy designer jeans one day, but instead of doing that you will get excited about finding denim that looks just as cute for under $20.

You are so incredibly smart, Brandí. Yes, you are one of those odd teenagers that love school and learning, but that is going to serve you so well in your future. Reading books ends up being one of those cool things that as an adult you will savor and enjoy.

My Senior Photograph (taken when I was 17)

Do not worry so much about being popular. Be KIND. Be authentic.

I know, I know….the girls that seem to have everything right now are outwardly pretty and physically intimidating. They make you wonder if you will ever have girlfriends that don’t gossip about you behind your back or say nasty things as you walk by their desk. Keep walking and hold your head up high, girl. Those girls that you think have it all together? They DON’T. In fact, someday in the not so distant future they become mothers of daughters fearing that a girl who was exactly like them will be cruel to their baby girl. And I can assure you that the friends you make in years to come will restore your faith in humanity. They are friends that you are proud to know; women you will respect and adore and they will do the same to you in return.

Take your medicine. Despite the stigma that surrounds that little yellow pill, it is nothing more than a supplement to help your body produce more of a chemical that it needs for you to stay focused and functional. It is not a “happy pill”. There is no such thing. In the coming years so much more will be unveiled about the condition you are battling and take heart that you are not alone.

When Mom suggests one of her corny board game nights with no t.v. on, try to smile and enjoy it. Or when she and Dad want to go for a walk as a family to cut firewood, take a mental snapshot and try not to rush it away. There will come a day when you start forgetting what it was like to have Dad in your life, so don’t pout as much and have some enthusiasm when it comes to these dreaded “family times.”

It is more than o.k. to dream about your future. I encourage you to dream of a grand life and don’t allow anyone to tame those dreams. You will rise and you will fall….but do not ever allow another human being to take away your desire for more. That is NO ONE’s right.

Embrace the cultures that surround you. I know you miss Florida and the Cuban culture that you grew up with. I know you miss the palm trees and the beaches and the friends that you had. I know you miss the bagel shops and the bodegas with the incredible cuban sandwiches that you would enjoy on the sand with friends and loved ones……but breathe in the Carolina culture. It is different, but it will make you stronger. You will go on to live in a variety of places and each region will give you a gift more special than the last.

BOYS. My darling girl…..boys grow up to be men. Which doesn’t account for a whole lot, to be honest. My advice to you would be to not allow the boys you meet over the next few years of your life to dictate your happiness. Do not allow what team they cheer for, or what food they like, or what kind of movie they enjoy, to crowd YOUR true joy. It is fine for you to be agreeable to new experiences and new things, but do not lose sight of what gives you the most joy. There will be great loves in your life. There will be great heartaches. And then there will be the one who will capture your heart and your mind and instead of trying to make it HIS, will give you the freedom to blend your life with his.

Take pride in who you are right now. Do not have fear of things that you cannot control, because I promise you -most things will never be in your control.

Wear sunscreen. All over. Everyday. Oh, and wash your face and use eye cream. Everyday.

Hug Mom and Dad more. Tell them you love them every single day. Be patient with them. They are doing the best they can. Hug your sister. Let her sleep in your bed on the weekends, because she won’t always want to. Maybe try to play Barbies with her a time or two. I know you hate playing Barbies, but who knows? You may need the practice for a little girl you have around later on.

Love God. Love People. Everything else should fall into place. It’s really that simple.

I love you, Brandí. I always have, even though I may not have shown it in the best ways. I will always be here for you, even on the darkest of nights and the gloomiest of days. Remember, my dear, tomorrow brings a brand new day. And that is a promise.


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