Dear Me at 5: Don’t fight with your sister so much. You don’t know this now, but that girl will grow up to protect you and bash the name of every person that tries to hurt you. She may be the older one, and okay maybe she was a cuter baby and had better hair than you did, but don’t take her for granted. Don’t envy her. There will come a time when you have to depend on her for advice for school, for relationships, and even for your babies. You'll both grow up faster than ever and you’ll miss precious moments in time you can never get back.
Dear Me at 12: Stop trying to fit in. I know you feel like your American Eagle jeans and Abercrombie top make you “cool” but honestly they’re just clothes. You could get 3 tops at Target for the price of that one. You’ll eventually learn this. You will eventually loooooove some Target. The moose on that shirt doesn’t make you more popular. And ps: neither does that black ring around both eyes. You look like a baby raccoon, Hope.
Dear Me at 14: He doesn’t like you. He won’t ever like you. It doesn’t matter how many stars you wished on, wrote entries about how he “flirted” with you in class, or pennies you threw in the well hoping to be his. He just doesn’t like you. Don’t waste 4 months “loving” him. You don’t even know what love is at 14 silly! By the way: he ends up doing nothing with his life, and later has 2 kids with two different girls. Bullet = dodged.
Dear Me at 15: Your very first kiss ever at the movies. Yikes. I promise you’ll get better at it and I promise you’ll grow to really like doing that even though right now you’re sorta kinda scared. It’s okay – you’ll meet girls who didn’t get kissed until 17. You’re still cool.
Dear Me at 16: Your first broken heart. You’ll pull through. You’re 16. You still have no idea what “love” is. Don’t write that stupid letter confessing your heart and don’t show up at his work and demand an answer. There will be a day you’ll cry your eyes out in your room late at night over it when you find out he has a new girlfriend and one of your closest friends will come over with Starbucks and a movie. Take the advice she gives you: You will break hearts of your own, Hope and your heart will break probably a few more times. You will be okay. Guess what? You’ll be better than okay.
Dear Me at 18: I'm glad you had the strength to walk away from that guy. You needed these hard past two years with what happened. It will forever define you and what you think of yourself. You'll never be so quick to let a guy into your heart.. and you'll date YOUNGER from now on instead of older.. yep, you're kind of a cougar. By the way.. this cute new Cottage Hill boy you're hanging out with lately? I know your families are friends.. and he’s from the same small town.. But be careful diving headfirst into this relationship.. you'll be in it for two years.. and you'll be devastated from the break up. Let go of that love a lot sooner. It will free you. Other than that, do exactly as you think you should because these next two years of your life will be the most self-changing, self-defining, self-growing, self-learning, independent years of your life. Don’t change a thing. There will be times you wish you could go back, and times that you will miss him, but I promise you, if you keep going and don’t look back, you'll see why the hardest experience will turn into the best thing to happen to you. This next year in Tuscaloosa is when you meet the love of your life, just be patient.
Dear Me at 20: Go visit your grandfather more. There will come a day when he is no longer here with you. You can’t listen to anymore of his long (but interesting) stories or pour him a "half a bubble too much" of sweet tea. He will get sick and be hospitalized next year while you’re registered for school in Tuscaloosa, but you selflessly transfer home to spend more time with him before he passes away. You will never regret that decision.. no matter how many people tell you how dumb you are for choosing South over Alabama. I promise you have a good heart, and a good head on your shoulders.
Also, you'll go through a tragic two months of several up & downs.. basically an emotional roller coaster. But don't worry, you have the best support system. Your boyfriend, family, and true friends will help you through this.
Dear Me at 21: I'm proud of who you've become, what you've accomplished, and what you're going to do in the future. Keep up the good work. And always remember to be a good daughter, a dependable friend, and an incredible girlfriend. Don't forget to thank God every night for this life.