If I Knew Then What I Know Now


Dear 15 year old Ash,

Happy (belated) Birthday! You just conquered your first high school Homecoming dance with your best friend  a week ago and had an interesting night meeting the new guy said friend found. I know how much of a struggle high school already is for you. You feel out of place, like no guy knows you exist, and already completely overwhelmed about your future. You feel like your body is nowhere close to good enough.  I know you hope these next four years of high school “will be the best of your life” like people claim, but you just doubt it all. I know you want to find that love you’ve always wanted and you want to excel at everything you do and just be “perfect.”

I’m here to tell you that you’re not perfect. You’ll never be perfect and that’s perfectly okay. You are you and no one else in this world can ever be you. That’s an amazing thing, you know.

I know you have no idea what the future will hold for you, but I’m here to tell you that you’re strong and good enough and you’ll see it one day.  You may think I’m crazy right now, but you’ll come to understand.

You don’t realize this, but that best friend I mentioned above, will only be in your life for about another 6 months before you realize she’s a different person. That new guy she found will end up being her boyfriend for a few months and….then become your best friend. You’re probably thinking I’m crazy as hell for saying you’ll have a male best friend, but trust me baby girl, you will. It’ll only be for a limited time though.

You’ll make other friends that you never would’ve imagined being friends with. One will become like a twin to you and you’ll spend nearly all the time at her house. You’ll practically do everything together. Hello, taking her photos because you love taking photos, being an extra in a movie, forever having sleep overs, and exploring the woods together.

Her along with several others will be your close friends til about senior year. The masks of your other friends will fall off and you’ll see just what they’re really like. They are not worth mentioning anymore. Don’t worry though,  a select few will be there with you til the end. I won’t say which ones, but I’m sure you can guess. Don’t get your hopes up on some of them though.

That body of yours that you don’t think is good enough? You will start to finally do something about it and lose some weight and start exercising. You won’t believe me, but you’ll eventually start starving yourself and become a runner even though you  used to hate running. You’ll walk out of the Pediatrician from seeing Gail and will feel defeated by seeing “Diagnosis: Anorexia” written on your check out receipt. You’ll spend a year going to a counselor named Jessica once to twice a week…nearly every week. Don’t worry, she’ll be one of the best things that happens to you during this time. You’ll be diagnosed, not only with an eating disorder, but with anxiety and depression. It will feel like your world is ending and the only option let is to die. I’m here to tell you that it’s not and you can get through it. You’re strong and forever beautiful and good enough.

You know how you used to always brag about never having broken anything on your body? That will change come 2012. You’ll be running and tear your hip. You’ll walk around in pain every day for almost a year until the doctors can figure out the cause of said pain. (Hello, spending nearly your entire senior year on crutches or carrying a butt pillow). You’ll learn that you have to have hip surgery to fix a labral tear and shave some of your bone due to your hip dysplasia. Yes, you took after your grandma. Unfortunately, you’ll lose her that same year. Her Alzheimer’s proved to be too much for her, but it was for the best. You’ll get through it. You’re tough even though you don’t think you are.

Don’t lose hope. Come 2013, you’ll be released from your diagnosis of an eating disorder and able to run again. You’ll be “weight restored” but the real recovery from that ED will come later. I know you’re excited about achieving your goal and getting that tattoo you planned with someone special, but patience young grasshopper. You’ll get there mentally. I promise you.

You’ll graduate from high school with having missed over a month of school and having had people just tell you that you were going to fail. You’ll have over a 4.0 GPA at graduation, I might add. There will be one less person there for you though. Your grandpa. He’ll fall out in your bathroom from an aneurysm and pass away the morning of your senior prom. You’ll run your butt off that day, but you’ll go to after prom because he wanted you to. People will say they’ll be at your graduation in honor of your grandpa, but don’t be fooled. He’s already there with the best seat in the house.

Did I mention that you’ll fall in love? You will. With that aforementioned male best friend from above. You’ll give him your all and love him with everything you have, but he’ll call you crazy, weird, and stupid and want nothing to do with you after 6 years of “loving” you. Be prepared to throw away $1,200 and 52, 560 hours of your life.  I know you’ll feel like you aren’t good enough and feel like there’s only one to get rid of the pain, but you are strong my dear. Years of this may seem like it will be the death of you, but it won’t.  Don’t think this will be the only guy either. There will be several others too. They’ll “care” about you or even say they “love” you, but they all make promises they have no intention of keeping. I’m just sorry you’ll go through that bullshit from each of them and have your heart broken so many times, especially by the one you loved most.

But here comes the great part of this letter:

Not only will you have your hip surgery in 2012, but you’ll also get a little sister. You can thank your mom for that one, lol. You’ll also meet what will become your actual male best friend that summer. You’ll write him and several others during their time in BCT. Oh yeah, you’ll be on the school newspaper and it’ll be the front page article!

You’ll end high school with your two best friends. (You have a thing for Asians 😉 and a few other near and dear friends. ❤

You’ll apply to Longwood and get accepted right out of high school. Yet, you won’t take it and stay at home and commute to Richard Bland for two years.  You will not have a clue what you want to major in until the last semester there and then you will  graduate with honors along side one of your best friends you met there. She’ll be Indian with a British accent. I know it seems kinda sketch at first, but trust me, she’s a good one, lol. Psychology will soon become your life.

Oh yeah. You’ll follow your heart to Kentucky several times. But you’ll also end up going to college there. Hello, Berea College. Don’t drop out from shock. I’m not lying to you. You will. Those times of worrying about how you’ll pay for college are over since you’re aid covered the community college and Berea is tuition free. You’ll meet some of your newest best friends there. You’ll come to live with one of them and eventually just morph into the same person.

So, the moral of the story is….You will face hardship, pain, repeated heart break, and loss….but you will succeed and end up exactly where you need to be. You’ll follow your heart and it will lead you in the right direction. Trust me, young grasshopper. You’ll make it and you’re beyond strong. ❤


22 year old Ash (sitting in her dorm having almost completed her second college degree)