Dear Younger Caleisha,
One day when time travel is actually a thing, I'll send you this letter of advice.
1. You are beautiful.
Beauty is more than just looking pretty on the outside. Beauty is something that radiates from within... and I'm not just saying that to be cliche. I mean being honest, trustworthy, kind, and loving are more admirable and desirable than just a pretty face.
2. Tears don't equal weakness so allow yourself to cry.
Honestly, this is something you will still be struggling with at 29. You don't always have to be 'the strong one.' It's totally ok to cry when you're hurting or sad or confused. Keeping in all those tears is stressful and they're way better out than in.
3. Don't stop writing.
In 7th grade, you write your first poem and you keep writing all the way through college. After graduation you have a hard time reconciling spending time writing against working or job hunting or 'being a grownup.' That is foolishness! Keep writing. Don't put down the pen because expressing yourself in poem form isn't like riding a bike. You will struggle to get back on.
4. Don't take negativity personally.
People are going to say some really awful things to you in high school. They're tell you that you will fail in the things you set out to do. They'll discourage you and you will believe them. DONT. You can do whatever you want. Just because a particular thing happened in your family doesn't mean it will replay for you.
5. Appreciate your ablitlity to perform your poetry on stage.
After graduating college you develop quite a lot of anxiety issues. It makes it hard to get on stage and perform without having a panic attack. You do learn how to recognize when an attack is coming, and will still read, but it's way harder than it was during college. Appreciate the calm that you feel when you're inside the performance of a poem... when it's just you, the words, the mic, and the spotlight. Savor that flow. Maybe one day it'll come back.
6. Any depression you go through will one day inspire someone.
You won't like to call it, but you have a few fights with depression during your college years. You think that you're hiding it from your friends, but you aren't. They all see your struggle. Toward the end of your senior year, one of your friends will tell you how seeing your fight inspires her. She tells you how you showed her that there is always hope and that you can get through anything. I realize that the knowledge that someone is blessed by your struggle doesn't make the struggle easier, but it does make it mean something.
7. Heartbreak is inevitable.
You get your heart broken. A couple times. And not just by boyfriends... family... friends... life. But it's ok because every heart break comes with a lesson. Some lessons you realize right away. Some you are still trying to figure out what the heck they were. lol.
8. Don't worry so much about not dating until college because your husband is wonderful.
In high school, you do a lot of fretting about all your friends having boyfriends and you didn't. There are many many melancholy journal entries about being sad and single. But don't you worry! After a few boyfriends and kinda-boyfriends you meet Lamar. During the time the two of you are dating, he gives you a card that says 'I love our weird love.' He is for you. Nuff said. And lemme tell you, you walk down the aisle to "God Bless the Broken Road" and that song was written for you and him.
9. You'll find some amazing friends that stick by you through thick and thin.
Through all those things I've told you thus far, your real friends stick by you. And it's really commendable because you are kinda a bee-otch in the midst of your depression. But anywho, they love you and they understand.
10. God will always be there for you. He'll be there when you sink to your lowest and also when you soar to your highest. Always pray, listen, believe, and have faith.
What else can be said about this? When you're younger, God is an abstract idea taught by your parents. After your experiences in college, He becomes a real being. In particular, one night in your dorm room you end up curled in the fetal position crying and you feel a warm hug and a peace... You meet God for real at the bottom of a hole and He is everything.
So yeah little Caleisha. Take these things to heart. Life is a crazy thing. But every experience is a blessing. You are awesome and I love you. Keep being your artsy-fartsy self.