Dear YA Ginger,
You are about to graduate high school and walk across that stage to receive your high school diploma. You've just spent the past four years making new friends, losing old friends, crushing on that boy from a far, studying for math exams that literally made your head hurt, staying up late into the night on the telephone, driving with the windows rolled down and the tunes cranked way up, worrying about the size of your jeans and why you are always bigger than your friends, looking to your sisters for advice but never quite knowing how to ask for it, dancing on football fields at half time, eating endless amounts of Whataburger fries with your friends, and jumping into swimming pools long after the sun went down.
You will say goodbye to your high school days with a smile on your face and a longing in your heart. You'll feel anxious to see what lies ahead, anticipating the summer you turn 18 and those last few moments spent at home before you pack it all away for college in the fall. I know your motto right now is to "live in the moment" and worry about tomorrow when it comes. You speak those words to your friends, even whispering them to yourself, hoping that is truly in fact how you live. But to be honest, you are a worrier. A planner. Someone who has to think ahead. Yes, you make choices that make you happy right then, but you also think about the effects of those choices later. When you turn 30, you will finally come to terms with this about yourself.
You will chase after the boy who never stops running, making it difficult (and painful) to ever reach. Pay attention to the boy who is standing next to you, asking to run beside you, never ahead of you. He is the one you should give your heart to, not all those other boys who don't even know the first thing about appreciating such a precious gift that you are. You are beautiful, no matter what size or shape you are. You are intelligent and kind. Your heart has the capacity to hold so much love inside. You are worth so much more than you'll ever give yourself credit for.
You will be grateful for your parents never putting you through awkward conversations that leave you uncomfortable and wanting to pull away. However, you'll need those conversations in the years to come. You'll want to know what your mother would have said in those moments. You'll long for answers to questions you'll never get advice for. Ask questions, seek conversation, no matter how uncomfortable it may be. These are your parents, Mom and Dad, the two people you can trust no matter what. Open your ears and listen. Whether you take their advice or not, that is up to you, but at least the words are there to think about.
You have reached the stage, the one that bridges the gap between your high school years and the rest of your life. I know you'll walk across it with grace and dignity. You might slip up now and then, falling down a few times, but have faith you'll find your footing again, you always do. I wish I could tell you that life is beautiful, wild, and free from here on out. I can tell you that life is an adventure, one that you will truly enjoy and fully embrace. Will everything be just as you thought it would be? Absolutely not. Will you graduate college in four years, get married, and have a few kids? No. Will you travel the world, visit enchanting places, and see life through different lenses? Yes. Will you find happiness when you reach 30 years old? Absolutely. And it's a happiness you never thought you were ever deserving of. It's a happiness that took a great loss to truly appreciate. But its happiness nonetheless. Hold on to that.
For your graduation gift, I've pulled a few books from my shelves that I feel you'll want to read. I know, I know, you're not much of a reader right now. But trust me, books will become your greatest escape and the biggest catalyst for your future career. You are a romantic at age 17 and you'll continue to be one when you reach your 30s. So naturally I've found some books with a good dose of romance in them ;) But I've also pulled together some books that will open your eyes, and your heart, to a world of diversity, one you'll thank me for later.
Dreamland by Sarah Dessen [add to goodreads]
Sloppy Firsts (Jessica Darling series) by Megan McCafferty [add to goodreads]
Harmonic Feedback by Tara Kelly [add to goodreads]
The DUFF by Kody Keplinger [add to goodreads]
Since You've Been Gone by Morgan Matson [add to goodreads]
The Summer I Turned Pretty by Jenny Han [add to goodreads]
Audrey, Wait! by Robin Benway [add to goodreads]
I hope you find a romance to fall in love with, a friendship to last a lifetime, and a story to carry your heart through an endless adventure. Pay attention to these books, I might just be hinting at some lessons you could learn from ;) Happy Graduation Day, YA Ginger! You did it!!!
Enjoy this playlist I put together that brings me back to my youth :)
For more details on this new feature, be sure to check out my INTRODUCTION POST HERE. You'll find the full list of participants + a GIVEAWAY!