I hope I make 15-year-old me proud

Photo Courtesy: Christian Mattos

I think there’s a lot of anxiety that comes with being so young, having big dreams and fearing disappointment and failure if they don’t come to the expected fruition.

I often think back to 15-year-old Chrissy — a younger version of me that feels so far away.

I know this sounds weird, but given all of the Facebook memories that keep popping up on my social media feed and the old pieces of writing I come across from time to time and the archive of journals from high school, 15-year-old me feels like a separate, very real person to me.

When I was 15, I was a lot of things — emotional, loud, dramatic, a bit annoying, sassy and so in love with the world. I had an open heart and an open mind. I had plans to become a famous singer, and I absolutely thought I would marry Harry Styles.

I think about 15-year-old me, and I wonder if she would want to be my friend. Would she be proud of me? Would she think I’m cool? Would she be happy that this is where I ended up?

I’m now 21, graduating from Fresno State this month.

Things change. People change. I’ve changed. And I think I’m OK with who I’ve become.

I think the biggest change from when I was 15 isn’t my career goal or my dream guy, but how I approach the world. I used to think anything was possible with hard work, personal drive and a bit of luck. And I still think that’s true, to an extent. But I used to be so in love with life, in love with the possibilities of the unknown. And now, that’s a little scary.

I like knowing. I hate secrets and surprises, because there is a sense of security in knowing what’s going to happen next.

If there’s one thing “adult life” has taught me so far, it’s that you never really know what the future holds, and you have to be willing to adapt. And I think this is where 15-year-old me comes in handy. She’s still in me somewhere, feeling emotional when I see videos of One Direction and pushing me to stay up working when I’d rather just nap.

Fifteen-year-old me was strong. She was insecure about her body and her skin and her clothes and her glasses, but she was fierce in her journey to success.

Because 15-year-old me was used to broken hearts, so she knew how to make the next move and keep on going.

Because 15-year-old me always had a story to tell, be it in song, writing or a 20-minute speech, and she said her piece to the end every time.

Because 15-year-old me knew she wasn’t the strongest, or the smartest, or the best at everything, but she was willing to take the time to learn and grow.

Because 15-year-old me had all the time in the world to complain and give up, but she didn’t.

Because 15-year-old me is still full of life and laughter and excitement and drive, even when 21-year-old me wants to put up a fight and quit. The younger version inside knows better.

What’s most important is that I’m happy, and that I feel secure in my own life and what I want to achieve. I don’t mean for this to sound selfish, but my own happiness should come first past the expectations of others.

And 15-year-old me can only hope that I’ve found that happiness. And I think I have, and that there’s plenty more joy to discover in my life.

I think 15-year-old me would be proud of me now. I think she would be more than thrilled that I’m graduating with honors and without loans. She’d be so impressed that I finally learned how to use a sewing machine, and she would love my fashion sense that was a bit too edgy for back in the day.

I think 15-year-old me would be proud that I overcame my stage fright. She would love that I’m still writing and keeping busy, but she would love my queen-sized bed even more. She would appreciate my adult palate, she’d be shocked that I have a tattoo and she would absolutely have a crush on my boyfriend.

The only thing she would be bothered by is the fact that I don’t have a cat yet.

I try to live in the moment. Thinking about the past can make me sad and reminiscent, and thinking about the future stresses me out.

But when I think about life through the eyes of a 15-year-old, things don’t seem as impossible. I’ve lived a life I never imagined, as lackluster as it may seem to some. I’ve been lucky enough to tell my own story and those of others through conversation, writing and performance. Each day brings something new, but I’m not as scared as I used to be.

Because 15-year-old me never saw any of this coming. So I think she’ll be pretty proud of wherever we end up.

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