Annarose Russo
Yonkers, NY

Illustration by
Miho Tomimasu

Hey Little One,

I know I'm not much older in years, but trust me when I tell you that at 25, you were very young. You grow a lot this year. That being said, I'm writing to you to tell you to calm down. Yes, you. Yes, right this second.

You have just moved back home from your three year adventure in Colorado. You are now a bartender (and a pretty awesome one at that). You have your Bachelor's degree in English Literature and you just got accepted into The City College of New York where you will spend Monday nights in class working on your Master's in Fine Arts in Creative Writing. You will wake up at least three times a week and think "I wish I had a real job" or "Why the hell did I spend so much money to go to college just to work in a bar?!" Know this: you left college with four years of experience, incredible friends who molded you into the awesome person you are, passion to travel, bravery, determination, and the perfect platform to build a career off of. So, stop stressing.

This year, you will kick off your non-profit organization that helps people to focus on the positives in life instead of the negatives. You will publish your first book. You will become a bar manager. You will maintain a 4.0 average in graduate school. You will grow closer with your family than you ever thought possible. This year, Mama will be diagnosed with cancer. It's going to be absolutely terrifying and you are going to cry more than you knew to be possible. It will be scary, but she is going to be a rockstar and you will understand that she really is the strongest person you know. I promise you though, it will be okay. And I'm not just saying that.

This year, you will finally be able to listen to stories of Depression, self-harm, suicide and you won't be sent into an insane panic attack afterwards. People are going to confide in you, and you are really going to embrace that. You will realize that you learn from what they share with you and you always grow stronger after their stories. Thank them.

After years of denial and hiding the truth, you will get over your fear of the stigmas and you will finally be able to admit that you suffer from depression. You will also not be afraid to say that you spent too many years dealing with your depression by participating in self-harm. You'll admit that it hurt. You'll admit that it is an addiction. You will admit that even though you haven't done it in a couple of years now, the cravings definitely come back. The coolest part about these years of suffering is just about to come. You are going to be able to do something that I am forever indebted to you for: you are going to love your depression. Sounds weird, right? I know. But it's true. You'll love it because it is such a large part of who you are and why you are such an understanding person. You will chalk it up to experience, and experiences are always worth it. You are going to know exactly how to control depression. It won't control you anymore. You are going to control It. It's the best feeling. Seriously.

Something really amazing is going to happen this year, too. Are you ready?! You are going to fall in love. And then, you are totally going to get engaged! I know! I didn't believe it either. Keep your eyes wide and your heart open. I'm not going to tell you who he is, I'm just going to tell you that you have never been happier. Let it happen. It's the best thing you've ever done.

I know it's been a rough road, young one, but you have come so far and I am so very proud of you. I couldn't be who I am today without you, so thank you - SO MUCH - for never giving up. You are full of love, passion, hope, and positivity. Don't let any of that go.

I love you,


January 2014