This is your future self writing from ten years in the future. Yes, seriously. Don't roll your eyes at me, young lady. I wanted to tell you what will happen to you in the next couple of years, to give you a heads up... and you will not believe me, but that's okay. Just sit down and get comfortable.
At 17, you will think that you know everything. Boy, are you wrong! First, that boyfriend of yours will cause you a lot of stress for the next two years. That gut feeling you're having? Yeah, it's telling you something. You will soon find out why he's bad news. Second, you won't go to any of the colleges you applied to so don't waste the money on the applications. You will not go to Sarah Lawrence or Oxford. You won't even leave California. Your best friend will still be your good friend in ten years. You know how dad was diagnosed with cancer last month? Spend more time with him. You will be glad you did in a couple of years.
Speaking of dad: Don't feel bad about taking time off for yourself and for dad. You're doing the right thing. He will be declared cancer-free for four years and then it will come back. You will sacrifice a lot for him but you will be glad in the end. He will not make it long after one of your birthdays in a couple of years but will not forget him.
School: College will always be there when you're ready to go back so don't worry about the 3 or 4 breaks you take between freshman year and the day you graduate. Dad is more important. You will change your major less than a dozen times before you settle on Religious Studies. Yes, seriously. You will eventually earn a Bachelor's degree in the subject. You will blindly pick a college you will come to dislike but you will also be grateful because it will make you realize how strong your faith is. And, yes, you will have faith.
Guys: When you're 18 you will meet a young man who is a nice enough guy but he will make you realize that you won't date anyone who doesn't have the same beliefs as you do. In a couple of years you will fall in love for the first time. You will get serious about him but it will not work out. Still, it will be a great, productive relationship that will help you realize exactly what you want. This will be the last relationship you will have (by choice) for a long time. In fact, still single and enjoying it as of this date (August 5th, 2012).
Friends: You will have two male classmates your freshman year of college who, along with your concert "buddies," will make you learn a lot about yourself as a person. They may be jerks but you'll thank them later. Also, look out for stalkers wearing capes to class. Dead serious. In a couple of years you will meet your "through thick and thin" best friend... and you will never look back.
Career: The career choice you think you want will come a-knockin'... and you will turn it down. In a couple of years you will realize that what you really want is to be a writer. You will write (and rewrite... and rewrite... and rewrite) a novel that I still haven't finished yet. Soon though... I hope. You will graduate without a job lined up but you will have faith that God will send you something. You will be given the nickname of Emmy and you will adopt it as well as Cecilia as your pen name.
Faith: Shortly after the 2006 World Cup (spoiler alert: Italy wins) you will get very, very sick. You will be told that you won't make it past a certain age, but you will, so don't worry about it. During one of the trips of the emergency room you will make a promise to St. Jude. You know how you haven't gone to church since middle school? That will all change. Your life will never be the same... nor will you want it to be. You will struggle through your reversion back to Catholicism but it'll be worth it. You will also contemplate becoming a nun (at the same time that the young man you fall in love with is in your life). You will start a blog on Christmas chronicling your journey back to the Faith. As of this letter, you will still be learning.
Misc: You will finally get your driver's license in a couple of years. Yes, your anxiety will finally allow you to get a license. Anxiety will get at its worst in a couple of years but it'll get better. Also, invest in these thing called "Facebook" and "Twitter"... and cash in before 2010.
Though, at 17, you may not believe the dramatic changes I've just described... they will happen. While you consider yourself a Catholic now, you will come to learn what it means to be truly Catholic for a couple more years. School and guys will take a surprising backseat to everything else. Nothing you think is important now (at 17) will be important as of the date of this letter. At my current age (it's 2012, you're a smart girl... do the math ;D), the most important things will be God, your faith, your mother and older brother (seriously, Pedro is going to be the best older brother ever), and your friends (as well as strangers who need your help). Everything else will be second. You will be happy with who you are... in every single way. You will grow for the better and you will look back with joy.
Oh yeah, and I still look 17 so good luck with all the "so, when are you graduating high school?" questions you will get in the next couple of years. Begin charging 10 cents per question at 19 and you'll be able to afford a house by the time you graduate college. lol. ;)
Anyway, just wanted to let you know what will happen. Don't go changing a single thing. There will be times when you think things won't get better... but they will. To quote Dory (you'll get this reference on your 18th birthday and your first group date), "Just keep swimming."