A letter to my 15-year-old self

Dear 15-year-old Michelle,

Hey girl. I know you are busy doing Advanced Algebra II homework and daydreaming about being a heroine in a John Hughes film, but I’ve got some news for you. I know you’re probably like “Oh my God, finally, Future Michelle is here with wisdom and will tell me that everything is going to be beautiful and perfect in 10 years”. Well, this is true and it isn’t. I’m not going to give you any gritty, dirty details, but I will tell you this–you do graduate from college with a degree, you do live in a big city post-graduation, you move to a smaller city that fits you better, and you do meet the man of your dreams. But that’s not what I’m here to tell you. No.

I’m here to tell you that you get to see Big Boi in concert.

Take a deep breath. You’re probably like “AM I THE OPENING ACT OH MY GOD” and I unfortunately have to burst that little adorable, precocious bubble. I’m sorry, my dear, you are merely a paying customer, but first of all–be so excited that you can drop $30 on a ticket to see a concert you’ve been dying to see for 10 years. “$30 doesn’t seem like a big deal,” you’re probably thinking, but I’m here to tell you that at some points of your life, $30 will be the difference between eating and paying your half of the electricity. But, I digress.

You’re going to spend the majority of this evening shaking your booty in a crowd comprised almost entirely of white kids who grew up listening to Big Boi on their bedroom floors, reading “To Kill A Mockingbird”, and burning incense…just like you. I hate to tell you that when you move to Asheville (SPOILER ALERT), you will meet so many people who grew up just like you. Young people who felt suffocated by their own small, hick towns and were desperate for creative outlets, so moved to a city–a community–where they belonged. Young folks who found solace in rap music and ideas that were broader and more raw than you can ever truly understand. I will always be proud of you for always knowing there was more.

When Big Boi performs “B.o.B”, you will feel more spiritual in that 4 minutes than you ever have before. It will be a surreal, and the energy from the crowd will be infectious and your heart will bump to the beat, and you will feel absolute joy. Your heart will be full.

Killer Mike will open for Big Boi, and he will kill it. It will be even more amazing when he comes out and performs “ADIDAS”, your favorite song at age 14. You will scream and you will wave your arms around, and everyone around you is doing the same thing.

I wish I could tell you that your mind will be so full of knowledge and wisdom that you will no longer know every single word to “So Fresh, So Clean”, “Ms. Jackson”, and “The Whole World”, but that is not the case. At 25, you are very smart and wise, but your brain is still occupied primarily by the words of your favorite artists from ages 13-16. Thanks. However, this skill will come in handy the night you see Big Boi–you will smile with each lyric, and you will feel connected to other concert goers and even Big Boi himself.

Basically, it is going to be an amazing concert. When the wind from the industrial fan hits your skin, you will feel free and young and incredible–more than you think you do at 15. Being at concerts that make you feel spiritually lifted is better than church, better than any youth group–I always take moments to stop and be in awe of the moment I’m in. Never lose appreciation for how beautiful and powerful the world is. Things will be bad–not just for you, but for your family, your friends, the world. You have to recognize those moments as times to grow, and that the good will come.

And sometimes the good will come in the form of “The Way You Move” and you will dance your ass off.

Also, you will get stopped by at least 10 people that will compliment your outfit. Remember, American Apparel is your best frenemy.

In short, seeing Big Boi at the Orange Peel will be a very important evening. You will be with new friends, enjoying good beer (drinking legally is the BEST, girl), and most of all, be entranced by watching one of your favorite artists. The sound, talent, and art that radiates from the stage will set the bar for future performances that you will get to enjoy. I am so glad that you will get to live so many of your dreams, and that this is one of them.

So, be strong 15-year-old Michelle. Things in the moment you’re in may seem so dramatic, but they will be so trivial you will forget they even happened in 10 years. But the night you see Big Boi, you will never forget.

I’ll write you again when I see Beyonce in July. 



25-year-old Michelle

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