12 - Dear Jo,
You think you know everything. But you don't. You'll hate hearing this, because you love planning out the next ten years of your life. You get lost in your own daydreams, and the future is literally all you ever talk and think about. Your visions are wide and exciting and often seem unrealistic. But despite all this, I love how much of a dreamer you are. I love how you don't apologise for your goals. I love that your big dreams are part of what brought me here. So thank you.

13 - Dear Jo,
You're the dreamer who decided to take matters into her own hands. You've moved past the "dreamer" phase, and now you're all about the practical stuff. I know grades matter a lot to you, but I promise, the world doesn't demand for them as much as you think it will. You're afraid of disappointing your mother, but hear this: She cares about your wellbeing far more than your academic achievements. You're determined to become the best at everything, I respect that. And I understand. Shy and confused, over-achieving perfectionist. I love how driven you are. Your drive is part of what enabled me to go this far. So thank you.

15 - Dear Jo,
Welcome to high school. Sit tight, dear, this is just the beginning of your roller coaster. That Taylor Swift song only scratches the surface. I know that you'll be introduced to glamorous parties, and the world of high heels, makeup, and little dresses. I know that you'll be introduced to that image of the "pretty thin smart hardworking high school girl." I know you'll like it; but I also know you'll pressure yourself into it. You have a hundred expectations of other people's to fulfil, but I know that you also have a thousand more of your own. 
As you start weighing yourself more frequently, checking the mirror every few moments, getting picky about food, I know you'll be introduced to new insecurities. I know you'll run and skip rope and skip meals and count calories to desperately fit into that mold. I know you won't tell anyone. I'm sorry you'll have to go through that. I'm sorry that you'll lose yourself in these pursuits. I promise that it gets better. And it's not forever. And you will be wiser about it in a few years time. I know you're simply trying your best. That's okay. That constant need for self-improvement helps us to constantly be on our feet; ready to work on ourselves and to become better each day. That is strength, my dear, even when you feel weak. There is a beautiful resilience inside of you, even when you do not see it. This is difficult but I forgive you. I forgive your mistakes. I forgive you for the decisions you made. You were trying. That's one of the things I've always loved most about you; you always tried. So thank you. 

16 - Dear Jo,
I am in love with your journals. Your written words, and hand-drawn characters. Your father was an artist and his blood still runs through you. Please don't stop exploring that burning creativity, dear. And don't be afraid to make art. Just continue creating. You'll find that it fuels you. 
Thank you for discovering a love for the simplest of things; wildflowers, stationery, sunlit caf├ęs, bread, smell of books, jazz music. Thank you for your willingness to play as cellist in that orchestra, despite the many fears you had. Thank you for finding the small things that make you happy. Later on, when you meet a boy and call it love, and enter into the most lovestruck chapter of your life, do me a favor: don't lose this wonder. This home within yourself. Remember that you create your world, dear, of happiness and purpose and wonder. It's in your soul, your heart, and not in your friends or anybody else. I am happy for you, and excited for what's coming your way. Thank you for finally making a small opening in your guarded heart. Thank you for learning to journey through the world with two open hands, facing upward, ready to receive what it offers you. Thank you for saying yes to experiences that scare you at first. Including that first trip to Melbourne, Australia. I have a feeling you'll like it. So thank you.
PS: Don't ignore what your mother says. Even when you're in love.

17 - Dear Jo,
High school can be draining, and I hear you. It's okay if you don't fit in. If your sentences fade into thin air before you can finish them, if your confidence deteriorates on a weekly basis, if you can't seem to engage in conversations. It's not because you're crazy. It's because you're human. There's so much depth to you; forgive your friends if they don't understand. Forgive those who do you wrong. Have a little more compassion and patience; friendships are complex simply because people are. 
Some tough decisions will need to be made this year. I know you feel ready, but also immensely afraid. But I also know you'll take some great leaps. You'll take that English test, and you'll feel like you failed miserably, but you'll actually pass, and you'll pass really really well. You've always been so hard on yourself, you know? You'll be working on that portfolio night and day for your uni applications. You'll fix it every chance you get, everywhere you are. You'll fall asleep thinking about it. You'll wake up ready to work on it again. And when the time comes, you'll finally send in that application. And you'll pray and grow anxious about the acceptance letter. When it arrives, dear (and yes, it will arrive), smile and thank the people who support you. Because when you stop and look around, you'll realize there are plenty. 
I am so proud of you. For dedicating so much time and energy into what you feel called to. You did tremendously well. And your inspiring efforts led me to where I am. It motivates me even to this day. So thank you.

18 - Dear Jo,
You never thought this day would come. Clutching to your suitcase a little too tightly, eyes filled with tears as you sit and wait for your plane, hands shaking after leaving your family behind. I wish I could promise you it gets better after a few weeks. But no, it actually takes a little over 7 months.
I know you moved from a house filled with family to a small empty apartment, alone and 2000 miles distant. I know you experienced your first big move. I know you stepped into university and it wasn't like what you'd imagined. I know you lost a loved one. I know you break down and cry on the floor in many nights. I know living alone sucks but is also the most wonderful thing that's ever happened to you. I know you're simultaneously giddy and excited, but also guarded and afraid.
I just want you to know that I think you're brave. 
After all you've been through, I know you've felt lost along the way. You might've lost who you were in the midst of your fears and insecurities, and in the lies the world always tries to feed you. But you'll get back on your feet, and I'll be there to help you when the time comes. 
One thing is true, my dear, and that is you're still a dreamer. You're a dreamer, you always have been, and you can't help it. You secretly long for big cities and meaningful careers and radiant friendships and true contentment. Don't cower because of your dreams. Don't shrug and say "I don't know-" when someone asks. Yes you do. Spell it out. Own them. Claim them. Embrace them as your own. There is a 12-year-old inside of you, and she still believes in them ferociously. Let's do her good.
I couldn't give much else to say, for we are both still much alike. I just want you to know that your truest self still lies within you. Not the self you want to be within the next year, not the self you want to be when you "grow up", not the self you were back in high school, not the girl people expect you to be; just who you areWho you truly, wholeheartedly, most effortlessly are. 
Hang in there, my dear.
Things will get better for you soon.


Just a tiny little introspective think piece today. It's raw, it's personal, but I just felt like writing again. I've been dealing with a lot of mental and emotional baggage lately, so it was just very healing to write this piece. It's just all part of this whole rediscovery thing I've been sort of embracing lately. You don't have to like this. Or read this. I'd be happy if you did, but if you didn't, that's fine too.

The semester is receding so I'm excited to start working on some stuff behind the scenes which I can hopefully send out to some publications in the hopes of getting published again before the year ends.

I'll let you know if anything happens.

Thank you for sticking around.