You are chasing the wrong things. I want to say this to the girl sitting next to me, but the words dissolve on my tongue. This girl, this beautiful girl, has dark brown hair that falls around her face, tanned skin, and a knitted scarf intertwined around her neck. Her eyes are glowing in the moonlight that peeks through the glass window next to us. But those eyes are low and sad tonight. She is telling me of her pain—boys and friendship—the boys she is unsure of pursuing, the girl who’s made her feel insecure, the party she’s thinking of attending later tonight. I want to tell her that these things are unimportant, passing. That these boys who want her to come over and watch movies aren’t looking for relationships, that the bitter friends are only jealous of who she is and what she’s accomplished so far.
This girl is worried. I can see the furrow in her eyebrow, the crease in her cheek. She’s worried about the future, about finding someone to love, about being someone likeable. I wish I could tell her that these things aren’t everything. And these things will come.
Over the past year I’ve watched this girl grow. I’ve watched her stand and speak before a crowd. I’ve watched her guide younger children like little sheep, giving them both direction and love. I’ve seen her succeed, win awards, take pictures where she’s laughing and smiling, her bright teeth shining in the camera flash. I’ve seen her get her heart broken. I’ve seen her try to chase that feeling of love again.
This girl has always been someone I’ve cared deeply about. Not as a best friend, but as a friend from the sidelines. Almost like a long-distance sister, looking over her younger one. Being the shoulder to cry on, the support when she needs it. But I’m at a loss for words now.
The moon is full tonight, half hidden by an October cloud. I look at it through the window, marvel at the clouds that almost look a charcoal-blue in its hazy light. If I think of my own life. I think of times I spent trying to understand other people, trying to get them to love me, trying to get them to understand. It was wasted energy. I discovered that I was different, and I learned to love those differences.
I watch this girl out of the corner of my eye. She tosses her hair back and forth, runs her fingers through the curls. She is too pretty to worry about the boys who may or may not be genuine, too pretty to agonize over girlfriends who don’t appreciate her for who she is.
I wish I could tell her this. Tell her that she needs to focus on what she wants, what she loves. That the friends, the boys, the memories will come. That she doesn’t need to feel like life is flying by—these months, this year will be a blip on the timeline, and the party she doesn’t attend won’t be remembered, won’t matter in a few weeks’ time.
But I also want to tell her to live fearlessly. Chase the things she wants: the trips abroad, the jobs, the late-night concerts, the cross-country car rides. To not worry about who or what or how or why, just do what she feels so pulled to do. And laugh at her worries.
I want to tell her this: that her hair always falls so perfectly around her face, that the birth mark on her chin is adorable, that her smile is always so big and bright, that anyone would be lucky to be her friend, her boyfriend, a speck on the map of her life. But I don’t. I watch the moon shift beyond the window glass and try to form words I’ll later write. You are the moon, I’ll write. Always rising, always brightening the sky, never worrying about the sun. The sun will come. The morning will come. In the meantime, find your place in the stars. And form yourself—crescent, half, full—whatever you choose to become, you’ll fill the sky.