Letter to my younger self
Dear very young Danielle,
Have fun and smile just as much as you used to but don’t be such a pushover. Don’t think that you need so much good feedback from everyone — be yourself and know that you’re really smart. Don’t worry about what your mom’s and dad’s friends think about you. Play outside even more. Go see more theater in New York with anyone who will take you. Strive to have a lot of friends and take them with you until later in life. Grow a turtle shell that actually protects you from the scariness that is your family and the outside world. Study harder for your tests and find a mentor to help just a little with your college applications because Mom and Dad just don’t get it. Get a good summer job instead of working in restaurants and retail. Plant more flowers. Learn how to grow tomatoes better. Keep singing in the church choir even though you don’t like church, you like singing. Enjoy the heck out of summer camp because really you could canoe for a living. Stop worrying about what you want to be when you grow up and just be a kid. Get rid of the barbie dolls and play with blocks. Ride your bike with the banana seat way more times around the block. Knock on Mrs Piero’s door more often because she throws candy out the window, though she later has around 75 cats removed from her house. Eat another box of raisins, they have a lot of iron. Drink more cups of tea with honey and milk and watch the 4:30 movie in winter while mom is ironing. Then, when you are older, get more jobs after school so you won’t have to be home with her too much. Play a sport because you lived a little before Title 9 and miss that crazy ride though you are one of the first kids to go to yoga.
Go to your friends’ houses for dinner more often so you could see how happier families exist. Wear the hand-me-downs from your sister because it doesn’t matter. Tell your brother to be quiet when he goes through his REM phase and plays tapes really loud in the shower when you’re trying to go to sleep.
Be way less of a pushover and say no. Be wiling to step up and do your part, but if you’re 6, don’t sew buttons onto your bathrobe without supervision because you are going to get a needle in your hand and no one his going to know it’s there and you’ll have to get surgery 5 days later. If you are sick or injured, completely fall apart or scream and yell or no one will know that something is wrong. Be seen more. Learn how to be a leader, not a follower. Take more dance classes — you love them. Know that your parents do actually love you, they are just not great parents because they didn’t have good parents and so on and so on.
Develop magic acts with your cat Cleo when you have mono in 7th grade and miss about 3 months of school. Write more plays and musicals with Elsa and and perform them in the living room to the grown ups. Listen to Bill Cosby stand up comedy records over and over as well as Alfred Hitchcock because it’s a little scary. Play records on the console stereo where we could stack up 45s and they would fall one after the other and play continuously until you turned them over and played the other side. Sing and play more at the cheesy organ because you liked it. Above all write stories! Write about your feelings, about your cats and dogs and gerbils and hamsters. Don’t give your teenage journals to your first therapist and then never get them back. Don’t go to your mother’s therapist — bad idea. Save your writing somehow so you can remember a little, then go to lots of workshops to remember the rest. Remember all of it and write it down.
Love, Danielle, your older self, none the wiser but working on it.