The other night over in the UK they had their "Children In Need Appeal" which is basically a big telethon to raise money for children in need. Doctor Who being the awesome show that it is, usually contributes something to the evening, and this year was no exception.
The Doctor Who Children In Need Special this year was a seven minute scene between David Tennant as the Doctor and Peter Davidson, also as the Doctor. That's right, for seven minutes we got to watch the Doctor meet himself. And it was awesome :D
However, this raises a question, as most things do with me. In the scene, it was basically the Doctor running into himself from the past, and it got me thinking, what would I say to myself if I were to meet myself? Say I was walking down the street one day, Water Street, for example, and there, sitting on that bench down by the cemetery near Eli's house, is me. But not me now, since I'm still on the street walking, past-me, let's say...eight grade. Middle school me, age twelve, eight grade, brown hair, 5 foot 8 inches, a weight I will not currently disclose sitting, alone, on a park bench in the middle of downtown. What would I tell her? What would I tell me?
Well...let's just say I've been thinking. Not exactly obsessing, not exactly writing, but thinking about what exactly I would tell myself from four years ago. For some reason, the idea is really interesting. My mom always said that if she could have any supernatural type thing it would be a time machine, she always wants the time machine. I think I might have inherited that.
So, here it is, a letter to myself, a message to my young, somewhat awkward and dejected self sitting on a bench.
I hated middle school. I hated it with a passion. As you've probably discovered, the only good thing about it was the people I met, and trust me, it was worth it just for that. Usually though, I try not to think about middle school, I try not dwell on it, if I get things wrong, don't kill me. Of course, since you're not really there, I think I'm safe.
At this point it's November of your last year at Cooperative Middle School, you're in the upstairs red pod, Team Starburst, for all of your classes, and your history teacher hits your desk with a ruler everyday to scare you. You've finally got all your friends in the same lunch as you, something which will never happen again, and the only major drama at the moment, is the fact that Amylee, the friend you made last year when you were stuck in a pod with none of your friends, is starting to feel left out now that your old friends are back in your life again. You'll resolve this, of course, because you're smart. You're smarter than you think you are, I promise, and as bad as you might be doing in school right now, you'll do worse if you keep letting it get to you.
The main reason I hated middle school so much was the drama of it. And it wasn't my own drama I hated, as you've probably noticed, it was other people's. I never really caused much of my own drama, it was mainly me, for some bizarre reason, developing somewhat of a messiah complex and deciding I was going to save the world. You can't stand to see someone unhappy, can you? Well, you never will. Granted, you become the cause of people's unhappiness a lot more than you do now, but no matter how much you try not to get into other people's problems, you always do anyway. Don't try to stop, it's annoying, and it doesn't work, so just take it as you go, and keep at it. Some people will love you for it, some people will completely and utterly hate you for it, but we'll get to that later.
You've just met someone, someone who seems slightly insignificant right now, since you consider her someone else's friend, but who is about to play a huge role in your life a little down the road. She's a lot more than she seems, and in a way, helps you figure out that you're a little more than you seem. You're not going to get particuarly close to her till over the summer when, believe it or not, you're going to grow so incredibly close to her as a friend that your friendship will rival the one you have with your best friends. Everything's going to be great, then it's going to suddenly crumble. Just...if I could, I would tell you not to make friends with her, not to speak to her, not to associate with her in anyway, but I can't. Even if I could, I have a feeling I wouldn't. She shapes part of who you are today, and it's not something you'll be able to change much once you hit high school.
Which leads me to another thing, another friend, someone else to warn you about. You have someone else you know, someone you already consider to be a best friend, someone who...well, much of the drama of middle is centered around her. You care about her deeply, but are worried there's nothing you can do for her, nothing that can help her, and nothing to make her see how much you care. Well...it doesn't really get better. And, it's not her fault, in anyway. She's going to leave, she's going to be sent halfway across the world, and you're going to be left helpless to help her, over here. You're going to do something to make her angry, something that makes her so angry it looks like it's never going to end. When you do, don't go to your other friend's house for comfort. Really, don't, it doesn't really help, it only makes things worse.
But, as depressing as all this sounds, it does get better, I promise. I know, you're probably not in the best of emotional states right now, I never was during middle school. I was never happy, I was never particuarly fond of all the drama around me, but I never showed it, you never show it, because you have to be someone's rock. That gets better. I promise. You're not the guidance counselor of the world anymore, if you're anyone's counselor, it's not nearly as earth-shattering as it is now. Drama is not what defines your life after a while, well, emotional drama at least, and you start to move away from it.
You are about to get completely obsessed with Doctor Who. Yes, Doctor Who, that old Sci-Fi show you used to watch with your mom all the time when you were little, and still occasionally do today? The one with the guy and the big box. Well, it's about to become a crucial part of your life. Trust me. You watch it at your uncle's house one night, a new version of it, and you're gone. There's a new Doctor now, two new Doctors to be exact. You adore the first new Doctor at first (that'd be the ninth Doctor, played by Christopher Eccleston) but soon discover the second one, the Tenth Doctor, played by David Tennant. You're attracted to his acting at first, his delivery, his portrayal of the Doctor, but after a while, you notice that he looks really good in a suit, and that's probably when you discover boys.
But really, what it all comes down to is acting. You want to be an actor, don't deny it, I know you do, I remember the years upon years upon years of struggling with that desire, and not being entirely sure what to do with it. That feeling you get when you're backstage, those few times you've gotten to say a line or two on stage, that rush, it never goes away, and after a while, the knowledge that you can't really live without it sinks in and you decide to go for it. As crazy as it sounds, despite all the reasons you shouldn't, all the people telling you it's not "practical" or "worthwhile" or "safe", your parents, the ones that really matter here, surprisingly support you. Sort of. And despite the enormous risks, you go for it.
But can you do it? Can you, who has had gotten nothing but frustrating parts in school musicals being stuck in the back and told to walk on and off at certain times. You who have been forced to sit on the side of the stage and watch other people sing songs and say lines you long to say far more than they could ever know, can you do it? I have no idea. All I know is that it gets better. It really does.
Remember that resolution you made? That promise you wrote in your diary that said that by the time you finished your first year of high school that you would be in a play outside of school? Well, you get it. Seven times, in fact, with more to come. In tenth grade you get your first lead, in a play called While the Lights Were Out, which soon becomes the best play you've ever done. You finally get to play a detective in that one :D And towards the end of that year (please, whoever reads this, please don't shoot me for being vain) you win a "Best Actress" award at school for your part. It's probably the defining moment of your life right now, that award, but don't dwell on it. Don't let it go to your head. Put it on your bookshelf and look at it occasionally, but don't think about it too much. If you let it get to you, you'll get too vain, and people will start thinking you're a prima donna (which, to a certain extent, you are).
But the point is, it gets better. The frustration of all your theater experience up to where you are sort of disappears. You learn to cope with small parts during all your out of school plays at the Leddy Center and the Palace Theater, so by the time you finally get a lead, it's even better. You still get stuck in the chorus for a bit after that, and DJ still gets the lead, but you don't really mind as much. It's not the big tragedy it is where you are now, it's not the end of the world, you don't think you're the worst performer that ever lived, it's just another part. And the weird thing about it is, you like it :)
I can't quite express how much better things get. Not that you have a horrible life now, not that you don't have some fairly rough times in the future, but I do want to tell you, it all gets better. It really does. There's a lot I want to tell you, but don't have enough time or blogspace to do it, so I'm going to end it here. Just keep going, keep it up, keep acting, keep singing, keep helping, keep talking. Take things as they are and don't over think them. Keep an open mind about things and you'll be golden, close it for anything and you're screwed. Live in the moment, don't dwell on the past (well...till you get here) and try not to worry too much about the future. Read "A Christmas Carol" Freshman year, and actually think about it, don't just read it and write the paper at midnight. That never works.
And when you hit that summer, that one after Freshman year, when everything seems terrible, and you have no idea how on Earth there could possibly be anything left to look forward to, there is. There's a lot to look forward to. There always is.
Tell Duffa the cat I said "Hello", and yes, all my love to long ago.
Nelly, age 16, from the future.
Oh...and P.S. - When you audition for "Seussical" at Seacoast Rep, for God's sake, don't sing freaking "Let It Snow." Honestly. And learn to say "freaking" correctly, it'll help.