Dear Laila,

You are now in high school, wondering what love is and if you'll ever get that flutter in your chest. Unknowingly, you are waiting for your real life to start because this life between home and school and the sports stadium doesn't feel like your own. Meanwhile, you read. You read so much that you forget to live.

Once you set off on your own, still saddled by bookish romance, you will keep looking inwards and wonder: is it happening? Am I in love? Is it my moment?

You will never figure out what love is supposed to feel like, not from books and certainly not from relationships. Instead, you will get something even more precious. You will love and you will love deeply because you have come to the edge of the abyss before.

What you will figure out is how to hold on to your dreams. Sometimes they will have the rough edges of a raft in the rapids and sometimes they will look like a solid home, unflinching in the storm. You will relish in every adventure, even the ones that leave you with scars and bruises.

Sure, you will fall in love. But what's most important is that you will love. You will love life every day no matter what. You will love people you meet and some will break your heart but you will allow yourself to love still. You will love men and women. You will love your body. You will love: family, eventually. All this will take time and, yes, vast amounts of courage. You are braver than you think.

So you don't need to worry so much about love. All you need to know right now is that there's a world outside your town, beyond high school, above small-mindedness. In that world, you have friends to share your dreams with. I promise you it's all worth it, though almost nothing will turn out the way you expected.





P.S. Keep that experimental streak of yours. It will come in handy at every turn.

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