My own heartfelt, and exceptionally personal letter:
1. When people think itâs weird that you always carry a camera, ignore them. Or better yet, realize that youâre insanely lucky to have found something you love doing pretty early in life even though this wonât dawn on you until later.
2. Fall in love more and worry less about whether or not it will last âforeverâ. Donât let that stop you from dating because shortly youâll figure out that sometimes the big loves last and sometimes they donât but that doesnât change how great they are.
3. Photograph mom and dad more. Also both grandmas and grandpa. Ask them lots of questions when you take their pictures because youâll wish you did more of both.
4. Worry less about money. Better yet, donât worry about it much at all. Money will come and go and itâs not a marker of success.
5. Stop comparing yourself to other people. Trite, I know, but really itâs worth getting this one right since it tends to cause heartache.
6. Be less prickly with mom and dad. Sure, the teen angst thing, I get that now, but really, theyâre right a lot of the time and youâre young and you donât know it all. Spend lots of time with them. Youâll get to do this later too but really, you can never have too much time with family. For that matter, never turn down time with family no matter how busy you are.
7. For that matter, busy is overrated. Donât buy into the âbusy equals successfulâ thing. Spend time without distractions. Make eye contact. Be present.
8. Donât sweat stuff. Youâll realize soon enough that most stuff is petty and life is a lot more pleasant when you go through it with a smile.
9. Put on sunscreen every day. Mom will finally get through to you about this one day and youâll feel silly that you didnât do it for all those years. While youâre at it, take vitamins. They couldnât hurt.
10. Get your sleep hygiene in order. Trust me, youâll spend a good chunk of time in your 20s wishing you werenât borderline nocturnal.
11. Be equally as excited about college as you are. Know that later on someone will tell you that there were photo classes in the architecture department (what?) and youâll wish youâd known about and taken them. You donât know this now but youâll go on to do a separate degree in photography so when you get to college stop pretending you donât love taking pictures and that you âwantâ a job in finance.
12. Physics class rocks. French class also rocks. So do your Folklore and PACS classes. These wonât play heavily into your adult life but theyâre very enjoyable so donât sleep through them. Ever.
13. Love more, judge less. This applies to loving/judging yourself too!
14. The iPhone (and iPad and smart everythings for that matter) will one day exist. Beepers and cell phones with huge batteries will be very passÃ©. You will feel ridiculously outdated when you see 4-year-olds with cell phones or infants with iPads who intuitively understand the technologies knowing that you still see them as âadultâ devices. On that topic, that laptop you fantasize might one day be actually portable and affordable rather than a pipe dream will be. Donât worry.
15. Learn how to code. In multiple languages. Youâll regret being code illiterate.
16. Go to France. Go go go. It will be amazing and will change your life.
17. Stop ignoring mom when she wants to teach you how to cook. Youâll be one day realizing how cool it was that she wanted to teach you by companionship rather than instruction.
18. Drink fewer Frappuccinos. Youâll rarely drink them again and theyâre kinda silly concoctions if you think about it.
19. Decide now to be a photographer rather than deciding later. Iâm telling you now that you actually already know itâs what you want to do, youâre just not saying it out loud.
20. Really really ree-ally enjoy photo classes because youâre allowed to shoot whatever you want. Try everything.
21. Buy a Polaroid camera. Scratch that. Buy 5 Polaroid cameras. Make sure at least one is an sx-70 and two are 690s. Store them. Baby them. Start taking Polaroids now of anything you think is interesting.
22. Put down the camera and actually be in pictures other people take. One day youâll regret that there arenât very many pictures of you. Â Start taking self-portraits.
23. Make images from your gut rather than your head.
24. Keep playing piano. Donât stop writing music and keep backup copies of the pieces you wrote because the computer theyâre on is going to crash and youâll lose almost everything and be very glad you have those Xeroxes. Also, keep practicing and donât take it for granted that dad has a piano because one day he wonât and youâll miss being able to play regularly. Also, sing. Itâs really fun.
25. Do a little less homework.
26. Go to more museums and start paying attention to artists and what theyâre doing. Youâll be better informed later.
27. Ignore people who tell you that you canât run track. To be fair, you are not the worldâs best runner but you should ignore people who tell you that you canât do things because you should try them anyway. By the way, being on the diving team will be a ton of fun so enjoy that.
28. Donât let mom give away her excellent shoes and handbags from the 60s. Theyâre gorgeous and youâll miss them. Also, realize dad has seriously great taste.
29. You are not as uncool as you feel. And for what itâs worth, âcoolâ is really a high school thing so it passes.
30. When you have one of those âmovie momentsâ where you feel like youâll quintessentially remember it for the rest of your life, savor it. You will.
31. Take more pictures. Do more art. Be more free.