Dear Rrita: A letter to my 16-year-old self...

By Rrita Rexhepi Duraku, an Albanian-born, Staten Island-raised, current-Jersey girl who loves photography, travel, champagne, and Excel. She is Head of Finance (and Slack-based-expressions-of-gratitude) at MOONS. 

Dear Rri,

Your body is going through some changes as you may have noticed. I wish you had someone to help you get through this. 

You will be running a lap during volleyball practice when you feel a strange pain in your right hip. You will want to stop but your coach will make you keep going—you know, because it’s just a “cramp”. 

The pain will not go away though. It will be scary. 

At this point, you’ll have only had your period for two years so you'll understand nothing and be prepared for very little. After numerous doctors appointments you will find out it’s a cyst on your ovaries. This is not a problem you should have at 16. Medication luckily takes care of it. As a result of this cyst, you'll go on to find out you have PCOS at 17 and at 18 you will be put on birth control to regulate your period and acne.

During our early 20s we will find out there are people in our inner circle who have also been diagnosed. People at work. People at school. There are more of us out there. 

We will not be alone anymore and we will get to talk about it, loudly. 

At 21 we will begin the journey to holistically take care of our body. Screw the birth control. We will get better at listening to our body and recognizing different cues. We will go through endless trial and error recipes to find out how we can manage our symptoms. 

That brings us to now. We are one month away from 26. Although we haven't figured it all out yet, we have become more mindful of the skin we are in. We have grown to love our body and its flaws. We appreciate the challenges we are faced with because we realize we have become a better version of ourselves. 

As a result of this, we have learned to value the root behind our name. 

U rrita (Albanian) is translated in English to I grew up.

We sure did. I wish you knew all this at 16. 

- Present Day Rrita

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