A Letter to 15-Year-Old MeI do like to wonder, though, if you could look ahead and see me now... would you be proud? Am I the woman you always wanted to become? Am I someone you looked up to? I’d certainly like to think so.
A Letter to 15-Year-Old Me
By: Taylor Allen Flanick
Dear 15-year-old Taylor,
I know the desires of your heart. I know that you constantly seek perfection for fear of disappointing someone else; yet you continue to feel like you’re coming up short. You want to be a better athlete like your teammates, a great musician like your parents, an artist like your grandmother—and do it all with the badass flair of your sister. You crave approval from every crowd and “clique” in school, but this buries your own personality and aspirations at times.
Throughout the past 11 years, I’ve learned these lessons slowly, trial by fire, that’s brought me to writing this letter. Not in a means to drastically change the trajectory of your life, because I know you’re on such a positive, healthy path. Your life at 26 will be everything you’ve ever wanted and dreamt. Though, I hope to bring you insight to improve your confidence, permission to feel love and acceptance for yourself, while guiding you through specific actions to help you fulfill the dreams that you have. The sooner you quiet the noise that surrounds you, and fiercely go after your own goals that feel so far out of reach, the sooner you’ll actually reach them.
I do like to wonder, though, if you could look ahead and see me now… would you be proud? Am I the woman you always wanted to become? Am I someone you looked up to? I’d certainly like to think so.
I’d like to start out by saying, every little thing that hurts in your body doesn’t mean you’re broken. You keep looking around from doctor to doctor, seeking an answer for what’s wrong with you, but your complaint will change from month to month. Instead of feeling like the world is against you, try to think of yourself differently. You are incredibly strong and resilient. You don’t have “80-year-old hips” like the doctor said, and you don’t need to be taking Celebrex at 16 years old for general, non-specific joint pain. You don’t need more cortisone shots at such a young age. Instead, you need to balance your training. You go from being quite sedentary to running 5+ miles at full speed overnight, and without a base level of strength. You’re experiencing bodily aches and pains that are very real, but there are so many other factors that could also be contributing to those right now, psychologically and physically.
I know that you want to be a better athlete and that you want to look the part as well. I want you to stop worrying about losing weight constantly and focus on building muscle. The best way to build more muscle is to lift weights, but it’s more than just leg pressing, although training legs will always be your favorite, even when you’re older. Believe it or not, strong, muscular legs will be all the rage someday. Instead of playing lacrosse year-round, try playing more than one sport throughout the year to build a broader base of athleticism. If you don’t want to play more than one sport, get in the weight room consistently with someone who knows what they’re doing, and allow that to be your “other sport.” Later on, you’ll absolutely fall in love with the barbell. Instead of going on long-distance runs, start working on sprinting. You always feel slow on the field and never know why. It’s because you don’t train yourself to run fast, you just run in hopes of getting faster by just doing more mileage or running more often, instead of training more specific to the demands of lacrosse. Continue practicing your skills, but practice more specific skills to your position. You’re a defender. There’s no need to keep practicing shots at the goal when you rarely ever do that in games or practices. Work on skills like cradling, catching, ground balls, interceptions, quick feet, body positioning, checking, charging, one-on-one defending, non-dominant handwork… all of these will be way more useful to practice than what you’re focusing on now.
Instead of avoiding meat at dinner, you need to start eating more protein. If it’s not meat, then try to find another way because protein is one major staple in reaching your goals; and trust me, you’re not getting enough of it. You’re eating fruits and vegetables from time to time, but you need to eat more of those, along with more protein, and keep eating carbohydrates, too. Instead of focusing on decreasing overall caloric intake, start focusing on things like nutrients. Food is not only eating for fun, but it’s what your body runs on. Enjoying what you eat and understanding how to fuel your body for performance will foster a much better relationship with food than what you’re doing now; starting unsustainable and unhealthy fad diets when you’re 13, and skipping breakfast every day. Also, stop claiming you don’t like plain water and hydrate yourself. It’s a silly excuse. You’ll start drinking plain water in college and forget why you claimed to never like it in the first place.
One day, you’ll help to empower people in pain and change the narrative they’ve written about themselves in their own minds because you’ve been there. You’ll look back on your 15-year old self, just as I am now, and remember feeling hopeless, weak, and broken, but you’ll empathize with your patients, help them change how they view themselves, and show them everything they can do. You’ll help them achieve self-efficacy through pain relief and movement, instead of restricting them from activities they love. Once you learn about progressive overload, exposing your body to what you want it to do, and facilitating that progress gradually over long periods of time, you will absolutely be fascinated with the human body’s capabilities. You’ll no longer see your body as this jail in which you’re stuck, but rather this vessel that allows for movement, performance… life. It’ll change your perspective in all the best ways.
I know you doubt yourself and you swear that you’re “bad” at science. Your fire just isn’t fueled by science right now, but it will be, so keep giving it a shot. Those dreams you have of getting a doctorate one day, don’t brush them off because you think you aren’t smart enough. You are. You’ll get it. The most valuable thing you’ll get from your doctoral education is the ability to think critically and clinically. You won’t get any status perks or fancy looks because of a title before your name like you imagine, but that part won’t matter to you as much later, as it does right now. You’ll use your doctorate not to make people call you “doctor” or to make yourself seem smarter or better than anyone else but to help people live a better, healthier, more active life with less pain through modalities in which you whole-heartedly believe. You’ve always wanted to change the world, and maybe it won’t be done by the time you’re 26, but you’re on the path to help change people’s lives. Keep doing the little things to keep the ripple effect going. You’ll make a splash one day. Just you wait.
I know this is a lot to process at 15, but I hope you take my advice and continue living the life you desire. I hope you start loving yourself and exuding that confidence that lies within you. Appreciate every, single moment. Love every person. Cherish every laugh. Time changes everything and everyone, including you. I hope you’re proud of me, because I am.
Wrapping you in love,