I am currently a senior at Colorado State University double majoring in Communication Studies and English. Currently, I also work at a local radio station— 99.9 The Point— as an on-air radio personality. I love telling stories about real people with more interesting lives than me (ha- but who doesn’t love reading that?) I hope you enjoy my work! ~Madison Scruggs
Here is my YouTube channel: https://www.youtube.
A Letter To Myself at 21
You have lived your life in a seemingly normal way. You have followed all the rules that social conventions have placed in front of you: you attended school. You made friends. You didn’t spit on anyone, like the kid you met on the soccer field in the fourth grade. He’s probably driving a dump truck now.
You were smart to revel in the happy times and indulge in the bad. Everyone needs a little time to mope now and again. You weren’t a sad kid, though, your parents loved you and that was more than you could say for most of your friends. They always talked about divorce and whose house they were going to for Christmas that year and how nice it is to get two sets of presents from two sets of parents. You never chimed in with “one set is enough”, because I think deep down they agreed with you.
Do you remember when you used to judge the quality of your years by the way you dressed? Third grade was pretty good, that was the year of peasant tops. Fifth, you had a weird haircut. By the time you entered middle school, you were less concerned with the way you looked and more concerned with the new school you had to attend states away from your comfort zone. There was a boy with blonde hair who liked to pretend he didn’t care about you. You ignored him until the end of the seventh grade, when you got lost on your bike and found him helping his mom with planting zinnias in their front lawn. That’s when you fell in love with him on accident.
Mark, though, is a different story completely. He’s the story about how you lost yourself to an imaginary ideal. He’s the story of first love, or the story of how you thought you might have been in love and occasionally cried about it in the shower because you weren’t sure. When he started mowing your neighbor’s lawn in the summertime, he’s the story of how you wasted your days standing on the dining room chairs, watching him pace back and forth, pushing the lawn mower across the longhaired grass. Mark is a story of embarrassment and unrequited affections.
It’s good of you to forget about him, and I hope you have. It’s my fault for bringing him up again. Think about the boys in Ireland, instead, when you visited last summer—at least they wanted to kiss you. I know it seems strange, having your first kiss at this age, but at least now you can feel good about meeting another social convention. To be a girl is to have a first kiss: check, mark, dash, whatever, it’s done. You imagined him when you were kissing all of them, and that’s not so bad just as long as you never admit it to yourself.
Ireland was the place where you fell in love for a second time, and you cried about that, too, because it was another impossible ideal. He was perfect. He liked movies and dancing and ridiculous things on the Internet and beer and Star Wars. He pinched your stomach fat on your last day and called you something terrible just because you were leaving him. It was a word that you would never, ever use but that you loved in that moment because it meant that you were making him angry, just at the possibility of disappearing. Why did you make yourself fall in love with him? I know you did. You didn’t even try to register how he flirted with everyone, you didn’t think about the fact that he was just a naturally kind person, and he treated you the same way he treated his closest friends. You were nothing special to him, and I hope you’ll realize that soon. He had a girlfriend, you idiot.
I know you’re still angry with yourself. It’s a courage thing, this way that you deal with the opposite sex. Entering crowded clubs with a swing in your hips is different considering you don’t have to be yourself in the colored strobe lights: you can be whomever you want. When a man slips his hand under your shirt, I know how you roll your eyes. They’re stupid enough to think that you’re that kind of girl. How could they know you’re just acting?
I also know that you think you’re a coward, and you probably are. When that boy asked you out last year with the curly hair and the broken black glasses, you should’ve said yes. You probably remember the whole thing: the way he walked you all the way to your apartment; the way he slyly asked for your number; the way he tried to impress you with his writing.
But you never wanted to date a writer, you told yourself, and now he lives in Minnesota and has a blonde girlfriend. I know how you try not to care.
He wasn’t the only one, and you could be happy about that. Another boy with long red hair and a dog named something stupid: Tessy or Hessy or Billy or something that was trying so hard to be unique that it was just a name with its own twisted agenda. He liked poetry, but the cheesy kind with all the gory rhymes, and stared at you seconds after you were done talking. Walking with him was a chore; he never had anything to say. Remember when he used to type messages to you at midnight, revealing his true self over the tint of an iPhone screen? He was one of the pathetic ones.
You try not to let things like men define you. You try to see yourself for just the person you are: for the one who likes to scribble down fantasy worlds in the margins of her Literary Theory notes. I know, though, that it’s hard to admit that you’re a person worthy of a story, so that’s why I wrote you a letter. To let you know that I think you are. Worthy, that is.
I think you’re worthy.