A Letter to 11-Year-Old Me

Dear 11-year-old Lana,

You’re not gonna believe this shit, but this is Future Lana writing to you from the year 2020. Crazy, right?

Speaking of crazy, that word doesn’t even begin to describe this year. Remember how you were obsessed with and creeped out by that “In The Year 2525” song that Mom used to play on the Oldies channel? Welp, 2020 isn’t quite that weird, but it’s certainly a shitshow. Tuck that mental note in your back pocket and start stocking up on toilet paper in the second half of 2019. You’re going to be spending a lot of time from home in 2020. Don’t worry. You’ll have a job you like and be able to work from home, so the situation isn’t completely FUBAR. Lucky for you, your personality hasn’t changed that much and you actually like being home.

Okay, so, I / you / we are 41 now, which is older than Mom is right now back in 1990. (Weird!) While your personality hasn’t changed that much, quite a few other things have changed. Some of those changes have been good, others not so good.

You still love stuffed animals. In fact, you have a favorite stuffed animal you talk to and even wind up getting a tattoo or two of him. Yes, you get real tattoos when you’re older — ones that don’t wash off, like the ones you used to draw on yourself with Crayola markers. And no, they don’t really hurt.

You also still love music, watching TV, reading, wrestling, and Star Wars. (In the future, there will be more Star Wars movies. As a word of warning, not all of them will be good. But hey, it’s still Star Wars and that’s a gift unto itself! Just temper your expectations.)

In the future, you have a lot of good people and things in your life to be grateful for. When you get older, no one makes fun of you or picks on you. You wind up being friends with people older than you and a few that are younger than you. And you get to look out for others and help them out, too.

Sometimes, it’s going to be a tricky and winding road to get where you’re going, but hang in. Keep being you. You won’t get anywhere if you stop being yourself. There are plenty of people right now who like you just the way you are. And there will be a lot more people in the future that you’ll love and appreciate in return. So, keep reading. Keep learning. Keep laughing at stupid shit and don’t lose your sense of humor. It will take you so many cool places. You’ll wind up with a job you like. You get to write and use your brain all day! And you also wind up writing short stories, blog posts, and even the occasional book.

Oh! That’s right! You don’t know what a “blog post” is in 1990! In a few years, there’s going to be this thing called the “internet” that you can access from a computer. And we’re not talking about those clunky word machines in Mrs. Becker’s science class that you used to like to change graphic colors on. The “internet” seems like a magic portal, although it’s considered technology. It uses computers to allow you connect with other people and make friends around the world. (You’re going to meet a lot of people you’ll call some of your best friends through this internet thing, too!) It also houses encyclopedic information on nearly every topic you can think of, and it lets you listen to music, movies, and TV shows. You can even shop online! (Grandma would love it.)

Anyway, blogs are a part of the internet. Different people (you, being one of them) write articles and house their thoughts in this magical-yet-scientific portal that almost anyone can access. And total strangers can happen upon what you’ve written if they decide to type in a few words that signal that they might be thinking something you’re thinking, or want to know more about a certain subject you’ve happened to write about.

Some of these writers (called “bloggers”) are famous. You’re not famous, but that’s okay. You and I might get there some day if we keep at it. You’re having fun and that’s all that matters. Like when we used to write recaps of episodes of Gilligan’s Island and The Golden Girls in our room for shits and giggles. Apparently, this internet thing lets you know that there are other weirdos like us out there who love doing the same thing. (In the grand scheme of things, we’re not nearly as weird as we think we are.)

Also, remember how you always wished that you could have a TV you could carry in your pocket or that your Walkman’s batteries wouldn’t lose their juice and slow down every song so that it sounded like an exorcism? Well, the internet made that possible, too! In the future, you’ll have a device called a “smartphone” that lets you watch videos and listen to music anywhere. As long as you carry this smartphone with you, you can call or communicate with your family and friends no matter where you are!

Speaking of family and friends, you actually wind up being best friends with your brother. I know you hate his guts now, he’s an annoying, attention-seeking tattletale, and you two beat the shit out of each other regularly. But, I promise, he gets better. (To be fair, you become less of a psycho, too.) You’re also going to meet a few other awesome people in the next few years who will become your lifelong friends. Just remember to draw a bunch of KISS masks on your folder in Reading class when you’re in 8th grade. You’ll meet a really cool chick that day.

Yes, you do move out of the house and won’t live with Mom and Dad forever. But you will miss them. A lot. Remember to give them lots of hugs and tell them you love them. I know it sometimes feels weird to say “I love you” and that Mom isn’t always big on displays of affection. But saying “I love you” gets easier over time and it’s important to let your parents know just how much you appreciate them — even when Mom is being hard on you. She means well and, as you will come to find out, she is absolutely right 95% of the time. (The other 5% she’s just doing it for kicks.) Don’t worry, Dad always has your back and makes sure you get to listen to good music and that you get to go to concerts. But be sure to give them hugs and tell them you love them. (While you’re at it, give Grandma and Aunt Johanna big hugs, too. They have so many great stories to tell and you’ll appreciate them so much more than you will ever know right now.)

Like I mentioned before, you do move out. You still live in apartments, but someday, you actually get your own house. With stairs! And multiple floors! And central freakin’ air!

Best of all, your refrigerator is full. There are always plenty of snacks and you love to cook and share your food with others. You wind up living with your boyfriend. (Yes, you get a boyfriend! And he’s a pretty cool guy, too.) He doesn’t really like the same food as you, so you don’t have to share snacks with him. Also, by 2020, no one bats an eye if you live with a guy and aren’t married. Mom will bust your balls and say you’re “shackin’ up,” but she laughs when she says that. And as you predicted, you don’t have kids — but no one busts your balls about that.

Remember when I told us about that portable smartphone thing that lets you watch TV and listen to music on-the-go? Well, your setup at home is pretty sweet, too. You don’t have to watch shows and movies on a black-and-white TV the size of a postage stamp like the one you have in your room right now. Someday, you are going to have a 60″ TV set! Most people have these big-screen TVs, so it’s not like you’re mega rich or anything. But this is everything you dreamed of as a kid.

That’s about it from 30 years into your future! As I said, 2020 is a weird year, but you’ll get through it. While this year is completely un-fun and sucks hairy donkey sack, it’s not a personal worst year for you, so remember to keep that in perspective when 2020 rolls around. There will be some hard times in the years before this one, but you will get through. Just always carry an attitude of gratitude with you — and don’t take shit from anyone. Stand up for yourself and others. Remember where you came from, the parents and family who raised you, and that even the worst days are a little better if you give your stuffed animal a little hug or call your brother and laugh.

Lots of love to you, kiddo. See ya around and see ya in old photo albums,

– Lana (You)

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