Dear Young Tori,
You’re so little in this picture. (And very stylish, might I add—love the glasses.) I can see what you want to be behind those eyes: one day an artist; another a ballerina; and then some day, a writer. Your face is so happy and hesitant at the same time, as if you’re not entirely sure who you are at this moment. That’s just fine.
I’m going to let you in on a few secrets I’ve learned in the 20-some years since this photo. I’ll try not to spoil the ending for you, but it’s important you remember some things.
The world will try its best to break you. Don’t let it. Terrible things will happen and the road won’t always be easy, but I promise that it makes you stronger. So many beautiful things happen, too. Focus on those.
You will make mistakes—many, in fact. Don’t hide from them. You’re supposed to do things wrong and get hurt and learn to walk again. Spending your time trying to erase the past doesn’t make you a better person; it only makes you bitter and anxious. Learn from these moments and move on.
You’re going to want to grow up as soon as possible, but please try to avoid this. You’ll be an adult soon enough, and when you get there, you’ll wish that you spent fewer years worrying and more just being a kid. Cherish every second with your toys, family, and the books you love. And stop taking everything so seriously—you’re only in elementary school, after all.
Right now, everyone tells you that you can be anything you want—the sky’s the limit. Believe them. More importantly, remember this when you grow up. Every dream is worth investing in, and you really can meet any goal you set. Don’t give up.
You love your parents and think they’re the greatest—this doesn’t change. They still are wonderful, sincere, and fun. Hug them more. Tell them how much you love them. Thank them for being supportive and remind them that they’re the foundation of your future success (that might be strange coming from a six-year-old, but just go with it, okay? They’ll be very impressed).
Also, cut your brother some slack. I know he’s hyper and likes to chase you around the yard with dead snakes, but I promise he ends up being one of your best friends. And you will miss every day you don’t get to see him.
Most importantly, little Me, have fun. Life is short and goes by quickly, but it’s also so long and full of possibility. Love everyone deeply; fill yourself and the world with compassion. Leave the world a better place than you found it. Have a good life.
(P.S. We’re still waiting for turtlenecks to come back in style. Sorry)
For more potentially embarrassing photos of my life, please be sure to follow me on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.
Writer, editor, and storyteller living in the Twin Cities.