Dear young B,
Right now, it seems like your entire life is somewhere “out there,” just waiting for you to come find it and claim it. You’ll always feel that way—that if you only stretched farther or dug deeper you could find the life you were “meant” to have.
But that’s not the way life, especially yours, will go.
B, you are as talented and brilliant as they say. It won’t always feel that way, but you have a gift of the mind and the heart, and it will give you great joy, even if it’s personal and never shared.
You will also never “get better.” Along with the brilliance comes the madness. It will never be the same as it was at 8, or at 12, or at 15, or at 22, but it will remain. You will cry, and starve, and stuff yourself silly with food or feelings or pills. You’ll take Zoloft until the day you die. You will feel lost and alone, you will fall down a deep well with parts and feelings clanking along the ridges on the way down. Don’t allow anyone to tell you that you are “cured.” You are not. But you will live in the world, and you will succeed. And you will possess a depth of self-knowledge that will serve you.
Stop fearing the people around you. It is lonely without people who understand and love you for who you are. I know that as you’ve grown up, you’ve had to build barriers to your heart and soul to protect yourself from pain. I don’t want you to put yourself in danger, but you can open the window to your heart when the sun is shining.
B, you will have amazing friends, and they will hold your hand when you fall down the cliff and they will clap for you when you climb back up. People will love you because you are worth loving.
Right now, you have exactly what you want to do all planned out. I’m proud of you for that. But I wish you could know that your life will look nothing like that plan. For the next many years, you will continue to plan, thinking, or hoping, that if the checklist or calendar says it, it must happen. But life’s not like that, sweet B. You must learn to drive on long and bumpy roads, full of hairpin turns and unexpected detours. You will get lost sometimes, and you won’t have a compass. In your life, you will be expected to continue on, in some direction that seems like it leads somewhere, even though you don’t know where that is or if it’s even worth it. You may never get used to this, but you will find ways to live in it. Your friends, and the love you have for your craft—those will help.
Cut yourself a lot of slack, B. You are lucky, but you are embarking on a difficult life. You will continue to fall and lose your way and shut down your heart—we are not perfect creatures. But B, when you get older, you will feel some shackles begin to fall and you will pick apples with three friends in a Prius zipcar, and you will be the founder of a successful theatre company, and you will meet Maria Irene Fornes, who you MUST listen to, because she understands.
You are amazing, but you are going to be lost for much of your life. I just ask that you navigate the world with curiosity and openness. You will find things you didn’t expect, and those will be the greatest things you will know.
Love yourself, B. You are enough.