We never really let go of our 15-year-old self. They’re always with us.

From Kasia. Check out her lovely blog, Ampersand, if you haven’t already and give her a follow on Instagram @ampersand_blog.

When I turned 25, I got really nostalgic for high school.

It was weird—I don’t usually get nostalgic over high school anymore. It’s not that I didn’t have a great time in high school (I absolutely did), but it just seems so far away to me. But in the days after I turned 25 in October, I had this little tugging in my heart about it. Maybe it was the fall weather that always reminds me of volleyball season & football games under the Friday night lights. Or maybe it’s the realization that everything in high school felt like the end of the world & the beginning of something great every single day, and you don’t get that roller coaster as much as you get older. Or maybe it was just the fact that 10 years ago, I was 15 and a freshman in high school. That’s crazy to me.

Of course this idea of being fifteen 10 years ago lead me to think about all the versions of myself I became & shed in that time.

It’s kind of like Russian Nesting dolls or continually painting over a wall in different colors–the newest version of yourself is obvious, but the older versions are still present and sometimes show through.

I wonder what my 15-year old self would think of 25-year old Kasia. Would she be impressed? Surprised? Disappointed? It’s hard to remember exactly what my mindset was when I was 15. It’s hard to put yourself back in those shoes once you know how the story plays out. You can try to think of your 15-year old perspective, but it’s hard when all of life’s events flash before you–when you can see the whole story line when you look back, you wish you had just an ounce of perspective while it was happening.

I wish I could hug my 15-year old self as she’s crying over that crush on her bedroom floor, listening to old Taylor Swift. I wish I could tell her that a 6 years later she’ll kiss him again & wonder what 15-year old Kasia ever saw in him.

I wish I could congratulate my 16-year old self when she finally pushed herself out of her comfort zone, got rid of that fake exterior she was hiding behind & finally became the truest version of herself. I wish I could smile with her as she met some of the greatest people she’ll ever know, who will change her life in countless ways.

I wish I could whisper to my 17-year old self that the guy she’s texting until 3 a.m. will break her heart more than a few times over the next couple years, to the extent that it will completely devastate her. But I want to reassure her that it’ll result in meeting a guy who makes her believe in true love again & all that heartbreak was worth it.

I wish I could comfort my 18-year old self as she tearfully hugs her best friend goodbye in her driveway before college. I wish I could tell her that there will be some rough patches in her friendship, but she’ll make it through & she’s still her best friend–she’ll be standing on the alter with her when she gets married someday.

I like to think of my life as a series of losing & re-finding myself. Shedding & creating new layers, over and over again. Some layers hurt, while some layers are beautiful. Some we like to hide & some we only show to certain people. Regardless, all my layers, my lost & re-found selves, still live somewhere in my heart–always reminding me of who I was before & inspiring all the new versions I am to come.

It’s funny, the other day, I changed for my night class for grad school, and I caught myself in the full length mirror in our office. There I was: messy bun, Victoria Secret sweatshirt, black leggings and (old) Ugg boots. I laughed to myself and thought, “wow, I’m finally ‘the cool girl’ that 15 year old me wanted to be.” And in that moment, I felt satisfied that I “finally made it,” finally fulfilled what 15 year old Kasia desperately wanted to become…yet at the same time, I realized I just didn’t care because I am so much more than that, too.

I’d like to think 15 year old Kasia would be proud of who I am now–better than she had ever expected.

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