A letter to my teenage self from a 25 year old lesbian
Dear Teenage Self,
I know this may sound crazy, but this is your future self writing to you. I know that at your young age of seventeen, you’re feeling lost and in need of direction. As it hard as it is for you to believe, I’m writing to you from the age of twenty-five. This is significant because at this age, you don’t think you’ll ever survive to be twenty-five. I’m here to tell you that you will.
Up until this point, you’ve lived a normal and happy life. You’ve grown up in a good family, you get good grades, and you have a small but close group of friends. You play volleyball, and you’re the Drum Major of the Marching Band–could it get any better? But as you get older, you realize that you’re not like your friends around you. You really don’t care to date boys–why are the other girls so obsessed with this? You start to feel like you’re different, but you push this out of your mind.
You’re almost eighteen when you first kiss a girl. It’s in your room, as you’re getting ready for a date with a boy. Even though it’s meant as harmless practice, it feels different. Even more alarming is that you feel different. You feel as if you’ve crossed a strange boundary. You tell no one about this, insisting it will never happen again.
The thought of this event lingers in your mind, and while you realize that this has made you feel a way that no boy has ever made you feel. You feel a sinking pit in the bottom of your stomach.
It’s at the age of seventeen when your secret is revealed, and you truly understand what it means to feel ashamed. Your former friends turn their heads away from you–your teachers stare at you intently and scribble notes in their notebooks. For the first time, you feel alone. Your parents take you to a therapist, and they demand their old daughter back. You realize that you don’t even know that girl anymore.
The thought that you’re a burden to everyone begins as a whisper, but soon it is a wailing siren that never seems to stop. Looking around, you can only see the destruction that your “affliction” has caused. You wish you were dead.
You truly consider what it would mean to die, and spend countless nights pondering. On your darkest night, you sit alone in your bathroom. You think about the friends you’ve lost, along with your former identity and self. You somberly realize that perhaps you’re not the victim of this story, but the villain. You did this, and you deserve the destruction you caused. But even in this despair, you hear a voice in the back of your mind that tells you to breathe and just go to sleep.
While you don’t want to listen to this presence, you have to, because it continually tells you to keep moving. Perhaps this is a guardian angel come to save you? You start opening up to your therapist, and begin taking antidepressants. The dark thoughts that were once so loud become whispers. Before you know it, you’re accepted into college and realize that there may be a way out of this hell that once was home.
College is a myriad of self exploration and acceptance. You’re crying your eyes out when you finally say the word “Gay” aloud to a therapist. The more you say it, the less scary it becomes. You begin watching “The L Word”, and you start watching Ellen everyday. This is the first moment when you realize that it is possible to be normal and gay.
Through and after college, you’ll bounce from one relationship to another, desperately seeking someone to love your new self. You’ll face a lot of heartbreak, and you’ll often question if this is all worth it. Finally, after one devastating break up, you think the thing you’ve pushed out of your mind for so long: perhaps you’re meant to be alone. You’ll mourn this loss for awhile, but you’ll think back to those dark times in high school, and you’ll realize that you’re stronger than you think. You begin to get to know yourself, and this self is one that you like. You realize that perhaps you are needing to love yourself, perhaps this is the relationship you should pursue.
Self, I don’t even know if you’ll believe this, but it’s precisely at this moment that you meet the love of your life. A pretty girl in a bar buys you a drink, and asks you to pick the winning horse in the Kentucky Derby. Miraculously, you do, and that girl buys you dinner. Fast forward a few years, and that girl becomes your wife. You’ll wonder why you never found her earlier, but then you’ll realize that you weren’t ready then, and that she wasn’t either. Timing is everything, self.
So, at the age of twenty-five, you’ll be living as an out gay woman, and you’ll be engaged to be married. You’ll go back to school and get a Master’s degree, and this will be followed by your dream job. You’ll realize that the words you write have power, and you’ll hope to inspire people who may be scared to be their true selves. That’s what I’m writing to you. I had to tell you that you do have the power to rewrite your story. You just have to pick up the pen.
Oh, and one final thing self. For the next eight years, you’ll search high and low for someone to save you, and to be the hero of your story. The crazy thing is that the hero of this story has been with you all along. She’s been staring right back at you in the mirror.
Your Twenty-Five Year Old Self
Celeste Seymore continues to write about gay culture in the Deep South. She and her fiance Kaytlyn plan to marry in November 2016, and live with their two cats and a dog. You can follow Celeste on Twitter @celesteseymore and on Instagram @celestialseasonings11.