Before you start reading that book, I should warn you, you’ll never be the same after. I wish I could tell you now to just stick with your classics and leave contemporary alone. But I understand the need to find out things, to look for something—or someone, be it fictional—to relate to. I know that it’s a confusing time for you right now, with all the changes that are happening. But I’ll tell you a secret. Every 15-yeard old around you is confused and overwhelmed about the world, too. Maybe they are just better at hiding it. Or maybe others are better at coping with it. But believe me, every single one of you has no idea what lies ahead when you enter senior year or what happens after you graduate.
Don’t worry about the current friends you have. Luckily, you will remain best friends with the same people after ten years. It sounds funny, doesn’t it? That nothing will change between you and your friends after a decade. It makes you wonder what paths you took that made you stick to each other. You wouldn’t believe me even if I told you right now. I’ll let you discover that for yourself.
That faceless and nameless guy you dreamt about the other night? Eerily enough, you will meet him. You will think for the first few years that he is almost exactly how you thought he would be. And then he will turn out the complete opposite. Don’t worry, you’ll live through the heartache. There’s nothing I can tell you now that could prepare you for what will happen, but just know this: you’ll get through it and you’ll live. And you’ll be better off without any of the complications he brings.
But let’s get back to that book. Now that I think about it, there is no stopping you from reading it. It’s not like you have a choice. It’s a major requirement in your English subject, and you were assigned as the director of the “movie”. It’s funny how your classmates put so much trust on you. But it has already been decided and you don’t have any choice but to finish that book and start writing the script. Don’t worry. Your brother will make sure you commit to writing the script. You told him to make you, and he will.
However, here’s the thing. There is more than a good grade and a good read waiting for you. I’m telling you that it’s not just a book. It will be where you will base your philosophies in life as you go through senior year, all throughout college, and even a few years after graduation. It’s overwhelming, I know, how a book could change your life. But I think you already have an idea after Little Women. Stop crying about Jo and Laurie, seriously.
I can’t tell you, though, not to let the book affect you that much. If it hadn’t, I wouldn’t be here writing to you in the first place. Who knows what you would have become if it hadn’t been for that book? I don’t know, but sometimes I do wonder.
A decade after the first time you read that book, you will still wonder.
So what is it like at 25? Sometimes I feel like I’m the same person you are. I know that it’s not completely true, but sometimes I feel that way. One thing has changed, though. You have improved in writing. Remember how just two weeks ago, your English teacher asked you to write for the school paper even though, according to her, you can’t write? Don’t lose sleep over that, because it’s true. I know you think right now that you are the bomb at writing poetry, but I gotta tell you. You really suck. Thank goodness you’re writing only on paper now. Imagine if what you wrote leaked on the Internet. I would die. You’ll have many opportunities later to practice your skills. And you will eventually find writing creative non-fiction to be especially fun and interesting. But I’m sad to tell you that you will not make a living out of it (yet). You will do corporate writing for a living at 25, although not for long.
And that’s actually what I wanted to write to you about. Here I am, the 25-year old you, and I feel as confused as you are at your age. I’m facing crossroads again. I’m uncertain once more about the future, and just recently, I’ve read another book that changed my life. But now I’m learning not to worry too much. I wish you could have done the same thing. But I know, too, that the book had a lot to do with most of your decisions. It’s okay, really.
The bottom line is that I would like to believe that you’ve come a long way since 2002. And if I really could tell you the things I just said, I’d also tell you that things aren’t always that bad. Cake will be your most effective cure for loneliness—that and watching Singing in the Rain or Anchors Aweigh. Music will be a big part of your life. So will caffeine. You will forget about Holden little by little because of another boy named Charlie. Eventually, you will stop reading The Catcher in the Rye every Christmas. Lastly, you will be less and less scared about taking risks because you will have friends who will push you to take risks. So really, we’re okay. We will be.
Almost-25-year old you