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Dear 17-Year-Old Natalie: The Letter About Boys

Part II: In which we discuss your self worth and patience

Dear 17-year-old self,

It's been a while since my last letter. I hope everything's still okay in the eleventh grade.

Ha! What am saying? I lived through the eleventh grade--I know exactly how it's going. I know that AP Biology is kicking your butt. I know that you're hoping for that coveted yearbook editor spot next year. And I know you're wishing that you looked better in a bathing suit than you do (oh, but you do, my friend! You'll look back at yourself in a few years and think, "my gosh, I'm so thin!" even though now you feel like a loaded down shipping container).

I also know that you want a boyfriend more than anything else in the entire world. So, let's talk about that boy, the one that you want so desperately in your life. You think it's embarassing that you haven't had a boyfriend--serious or not--since you and your kindergarten boyfriend called it quits on the playground one day during recess.

It's not embarassing. Trust me, no one in your school is dating as much as you think they are. It's mostly a lot of hot air...but you won't figure that out for several years.

Anyway, back to this potential boyfriend.

Let me start by saying that you do not need to define yourself by a boy. You are a wonderful, beautiful, intelligent young woman whether or not someone comes to pick you up for a date every Friday night.

However, I also know that doesn't help fill that hurt in your heart when you hear about your friends' dates and crushes-turned-boyfriends.

You don't know what you're doing wrong. Why do other girls get asked out on dates and you don't?

Well, there are a few reasons.

One, you're shy because you're not comfortable with yourself yet. Blame adolescence. You will grow out of this shyness in about a year, and you'll eventually be bold enough to just walk up to people you don't know at the college cafeteria and ask if you can eat with them. You meet a lot of interesting people this way.

Two, your world is pretty small and there aren't that many boys around. Between your little school and ballet class, you aren't exactly running into thousands of guys everyday. The ones at school are either kind of dumb but cute, or really smart but not so great looking. And ballet has exactly zero options. This, too, will change when you go to college, so be patient.

And three, you're intimidating. You're tall and lanky--almost as tall as most of the boys in your classes--and you're smart. Though you're quiet, you don't miss much, and you'll let someone know if he or she has done something wrong to you. I know it seems like the cute (but dumb) boys base their dating preferences on who's allowed to go to parties and drink (i.e. not you because your parents will kill you), but eventually, you'll meet some more evolved males you like the fact that you are tall and smart. This also happens in college. (Are you sensing a pattern?)

In just a year, you'll go to this glorious place called college, and there will boys everywhere. Some of them will be the boys from your high school, but you'll avoid them easily since it's a big campus. Some of them will be absolutely beautiful, but don't jive with you because you're still the smart girl. Some of them will be obsessed with football or basketball or soccer, and won't understand why you want to be with someone who loves you more than he loves sports.

And then you will find the boy.

He will make you feel brilliant, safe, and loved. He will bring flowers to every one of your classes on Valentine's Day. He'll lay on the floor of your dorm room and watch scary movies with you. He'll take care of you when you run a 104 degree fever, even going out at two in the morning to get more ginger ale and medicine. He'll drive eight hours round-trip in one day just to see you for thirty minutes.

He will be the one that you were waiting for, and you'll understand (almost too late) that your life will never be complete without him.

But make no mistake: there will be fighting.

Oh, will there be fighting. There will be arguing and fussing and ignorance.

And there will be a time when you two will think you can live without the other, and you'll go your separate ways for quite some time. Other people will come and go from your lives, but you will never forget one another.

Until one day, you will both realize that you are two halves of one whole, and that the world seems a little better, a little brighter, a little kinder when the other is there.

From where I'm sitting, everything turns out pretty well. Your seven-month-old baby is sleeping in the next room over, her little butt up in the air. (17-year-old Natalie, she is gorgeous). Your husband's downstairs working on ways to make your life better (hint: a new house in about a year!). The two of you have traveled together, graduated school, bought a house, gotten jobs, lost jobs, supported each other through the deaths of those you love, danced with one another at friends' weddings, laughed until you cried, scared yourself silly watching scary movies, and gone through the best, worst, most amazing time possible: the birth of your daughter.

What I'm trying to tell you is to be patient. Everything will fall into place when it's time and not a moment before.

Above all, be your kooky, intense, book-loving, bizarre, creative, carefree, old soul, studying self. That wonderful, wonderful boy will fall in love with you because of these traits.

Don't waste your time worrying. Spend it living the start of your wonderful life instead.

Until next time,

Almost-thirty Natalie