Wednesday, December 28, 2011
Dear December 28, 2010 Ashley,
It's a rough year for you. I know you expected it, and even though you were right, you were so wrong in every way it would be. Your job killed you, just a bit. You made some amazing friends, and lost them as soon as it became possible. You kept some amazing friends, and you realized that a lot of the people you know are amazing friends. You lost your way, for a long time. You let yourself, really - and I'm not blaming you! I think it was necessary, because you learned a lesson from it and I think we're better off for it.
I wish I could tell you that you made the right choice, and stop stressing over it. You had just left your second job even though it was closer to what you wanted to do, because you had made a commitment to the first job - and I remember the long hours you agonized over the decision. And after you made it and cut your 90-hour work weeks down to a blissful 50, you were still stressing out if it was right. I wish I could tell you yes, it is. Even though it was horrible and there's a chance we would be in a much different part of life at the moment, it was the right thing to do. You go to sleep at night knowing you honored a commitment, you understand that you had to do what you did. The job you stuck with, while not the best, was not at all terrible in the least, and you loved it at least 50% every week, if not more.
I wish I could tell you that he'll hurt your heart. He won't mean to, and you won't even realize that he had the power to. But he will, and you will never see it coming. I wish you could have protected yourself better.
I wish I could tell you that J isn't worth it. Maybe he is who you want him to be, but he won't make you what you want to be.
I wish I could tell you to be honest with your best friend and advise her better on that problem she had at the beginning of the year. You held in your real opinion, and I'm still not sure it was worth it. She can do better, and I'm disappointed and regret that you didn't tell her that.
I wish I could tell you how brave you are, for sticking with something for so long because it was the right thing even though it may not have been the best thing. I wish I could tell you that you'll be ok. That you survive. That you will survive. That ultimately, you'll leave it at the right time, in the best terms you could.
I wish I could reassure you that he's worth all the teasing you go through. I'm so proud you stuck out the friendship - not only because you knew there was nothing wrong with it and that neither of you were at fault for anything, but because he is completely worth it all. That he will save you some nights, and be the source of so much love and warmth in a time you were lacking it so much. I know it was tough through all the words and pokes and prods and insinuations, but I'm so, so glad you stuck with it. His friendship is the world to your present Self.
I'm glad you had those sleepless nights and went on that 2-month-long partying binge. Through the exhaustion, occasional fear you were being too crazy, and ever-present self-doubting, it was so much more fun and some of the best memories you'll ever have. You were young anyway, and no one was ever hurt - and that's the best we can ask for. (And hey, that idea of renting a hotel room downtown with your 3 best friends and bar-hopping all through that night for your birthday? Best. Birthday. EVER.)
It's a long year for you, and you go through a lot. Crazy clients, sleepless nights, 20-hour work days, and months that just flew by. You end up unemployed, and a bit lost, and at the mercy of a lot of jokes. You take a lot of bullying this year, much more than you ever did.
But you also have some of the best friends, on the best nights, with the best memories you could ever hope for. You have a boost in resume, a plethora of professional back-up, and so much more knowledge. You learned to read for pleasure again, and were opened to some of the best worlds you never knew were out there. You rode in a friggin' dune buggy, for heaven's sake! Who would have ever thought you'd do that?
What I wish I could tell you most, One Year Ago Ashley, is that you make it to today. With a lot of bruises, a lot of scars, and, regrettably, a few open wounds that still don't have a resolution to close - but you make it with a broader knowledge, a larger heart, and the comfort of those around you.
You make it.
December 28, 2011 Ashley