To those who have touched my twenty-one years of life but are no longer a part of it,
I hope all is well with you. It’s been a while. It could be a month or two. Or maybe over a decade. Either way, hello.
I turned twenty-one this past January. Crazy, I know. I hope you’ve had beautiful birthdays since the last time we’ve spoken. And I hope the years between those birthdays have been beautiful too.
I’m a lot different since I last saw you. I’m learning more about myself every single day. Sometimes it feels like I’m backtracking, or like I don’t know myself at all. But I can’t even say I’m the same person I was a month ago. So I’ve realized it’s okay to get confused by myself every once in a while.
I wanted to write to you for a lot of reasons. To say hi, to reminisce, to say some of the things I never said that I wish I had. But most of all, I wanted to write you to thank you.
I’ve been thinking a lot recently about my life. About where I’ve left my fingerprints and where I will leave them in the future. I’ve been thinking a lot about all the choices I’ve made and the people I’ve met and how every teeny tiny decision I’ve ever made and every single person I’ve ever interacted with (directly or indirectly) has in some way pushed me into the trajectory my life has taken and will continue to take.
So I want to thank you.
Because in some way, shape or form, you have been a part of my twenty-one years here on earth. Maybe you had been with me since the very beginning. Or maybe, as Henry Wadsworth Longfellow so aptly described, we were just two ships passing in the night. Either way, our lives have been intertwined, for no matter how long or short, for good or for bad. And I want to thank you for being a part of it.
- To the friend who I had my first sleepover with: thank you for letting me leave the hallway light on, it made me feel safer.
- To the girl who taught me how to make friendship bracelets (and gave me my first one): thank you for being my first true friend.
- To the person who co-authored my fantastical stories as a child: thank you for fighting the dragons, flying with the faries and helping me bring my ideas to life. You made my childhood enchanting.
- To the girl who first talked behind my back: thank you for helping me learn the importance of friendship.
- To the boy who was my first crush: thank you for my first butterflies.
- To the bus driver who got me to school safely for nine years: thank you for waiting those extra two minutes when we were running late.
- To the people I rode that same bus with for all those years: thank you for putting up with all the stupid nicknames, coming up with all those silly games and for spending all those miles with me.
- To the teachers who helped my imagination flourish: thank you for giving me that part, for getting me into that class, for encouraging my ideas and for making my parents happy at all those parent-teacher conferences.
- To the teachers who always seemed to want to hold my imagination back: thank you for showing me how much I truly appreciate my creativity.
- To the actors and actresses who acted with me: thank you for helping me nail that spin, for being patient with me when I was learning my lines and for making theatre such an amazing experience.
- To those who turned me down: thank you for helping me see that rejection isn’t the end of the world.
- To the kids who were always “too popular” to be my friends: thank you for allowing me to learn to give everyone a chance.
- To the boy who gave me my first kiss: thank you for making the wait worth it.
- To the coaches who pushed me to my highest potential: thank you for not giving up on me.
- To the coaches who underestimated me: thank you for teaching me that I’m more than what others think.
- To the first person I loved and who loved me back: thank you for opening my heart up and for showing me parts of myself I never saw before.
- To the friend who I would talk on the phone with until 3AM: thank you for making me know how it feels to laugh until I cry and talk about nothing for hours.
- To the club that helped me find my passion again: thank you for finding me a home I didn’t know I was missing and giving me a pen so I could write the stories I needed to write.
- To the person who’s heart I broke: thank you for all of the memories and for letting me go so I could find myself. I’m sorry.
- To the friends who turned their backs on me: thank you for helping me learn what true friendship means.
- To the one who listened to me when I wasn’t okay: thank you for asking.
- To the faces in dorm hallways I would always smile at: thank you for smiling back.
- To the strangers who’ve complemented my outfit: thank you for making my days brighter.
- To the people I’ve met at 2AM in pizza parlors: thank you for understanding me.
- To the strangers who’s stories I’ve heard, no matter how briefly, in gas station rest stops, planes, trains, subway cars and everywhere in between: thank you for allowing me to see a small piece of you; it’s an amazing thing to see.
- And finally, to the thousands of old versions of me and all the future versions of me that will ultimately leave me: thank you for all the life lessons, the tears, the smiles, for allowing me to look back on my life with happiness and for sacrificing yourself so I can continue to find myself over and over again.
Our lives are touched by hundreds of people every single day. Life is, in essence, a mess of connections, of threads connecting each one of us together in some strange way, shape or form.
I invite you to take the next few minutes to maybe think of someone who you haven’t thought of in a few days, a few months, a few years. And send them a silent thank you for the thread, no matter how frayed or worn, that holds you two together.