Saturday was a perfect day. I went to brunch at Sarabeth's, spent a few hours in Barnes & Noble, relaxed, went to the gym, and spent the evening laughing until I was hysterical with friends. While in B&N I came across a book recently published filled with letters celebrities had written to the sixteen year old version of themselves. I read through it and it was sometimes funny, and sometimes emotional. I found myself thinking about what I would write to my sixteen year old self. The author challenges the reader to write a letter, so I decided to do it. I really enjoyed it, and it also made me think about what my forty five year old self would write to me now.
Dear 16 year old me,
Wow. Are you ready to learn a lot? Because, you will, at least in the next 12 years. I’m sure even after that, but at this point I can’t say for certain, because I can only see the past, not the future.
Let me start off by telling you that life is good. It’s not without hard times, but overall, you are happy and incredibly blessed. You will make some amazing friends who are as close as family, with whom you’ll maintain a relationship for years and years. You’ll learn so much from these friends. Your family will grow with in-laws, nieces, and nephews, all of them a perfect fit. You’ll travel and see parts of the world others only dream about. You’ll do things others talk about and say, “I wish I could do that,” and instead of just wishing, you’ll just decide, and you’ll go do it while you have the freedom and flexibility to do so. In the beginning of your adult life you’ll take a leap, and it will pay off. Big time.
Now. A few pieces of advice. I wish when I was your age someone would have told me these things.
You’ll eventually get over your insecurities regarding your height. You won’t ever totally love being tall, but you’ll be okay with it, and learn to own it. You’ll even wear heels! I know, it seems crazy, right? But once you quit acting so awkward and insecure about it, others’ reactions won’t be one of surprise, but complimentary, and the attention you get will be mostly positive (and you won’t really care about the negative.)
A bit of bad news. Your senior year of high school adults will tell you that you’re going to date all the time in college. You’ll hear that a lot, actually. Don’t believe them. You won’t. Sure, you’ll have little blips on the radar here and there, but mostly it’ll be your roommates and friends being asked out on dates and having relationships and getting married. You’ll go to a lot of showers, and when you go home from college you’ll be asked ALL THE TIME about who you’re dating, and why you’re not married. It’ll feel painfully awkward and you’ll hate it. You’ll feel so insecure and like something is wrong with you since everyone told you you’d date, and it seems like everyone else is getting married. If you believe one thing, believe this: THERE IS NOTHING WRONG WITH YOU. You will date later in life, a lot. You’ll just be a late bloomer. There are so many things waiting for you after college that you would most likely not experience if you’d settled down early. Let me tell you something Mom will eventually think of senior year of college. When someone asks, “Are you dating anyone?” respond with, “Oh, nobody special.” You’ll wish she would have thought of it sooner. It will prevent people from saying awkward things to “make you feel better” if you had just told them no. But there is some good news, you will make a lot of good friends, and have a TON of fun. In some ways college will be the best years of your life. It's the perfect amount of freedom and lack of responsibility. There will be a handful of girls throughout the years that you'll become so close to, that you would not have traded to have dated more. I promise!!
You will have your first real boyfriend when you’re 21, and you’ll fall in love, but he’s more of a good friend than anything. You’ll learn all about relationships and kick yourself for judging others’ in the past. Breaking up will be the hardest thing you’ve ever had to do. It’ll be long and drawn out and painful (like future break ups) but you’ll get through it, and you’ll learn so much and really will not have regrets. You’ll date some really great guys who ultimately just aren’t for you. In addition to dating heartache, you’ll experience other heartache that will feel never ending. Even though it seems impossible, I promise, you’ll eventually get over it.
There will be something that happens in New York in 2001 that will change the way our country operates. I can’t go into more detail, but you’ll be sucked into the news more than an average freshman in college. You’ll also find yourself rooting for the Yankees, when everyone else is rooting for the Red Sox, in the 2004 pennant series. You won’t know why, since it seems the Sox are the team to root for. There’s a reason for these feelings. They’re foreshadowing.
It will be nearly impossible, but do your best to not let your emotions get wrapped up in the problems of your loved ones. It will take you a long time to learn, but you can’t control other people. (Yes, you can be a bit controlling. Even at my age, I haven’t really mastered letting go yet, but I realize it’s a problem we have.)
BE YOURSELF. Quit worrying about being popular, you have a ton of friends. It’s cliché, but being popular really doesn’t matter. Just be yourself because people really do prefer the real you, and you’ll be happier that way. You’ll find it’s the guys who you let your guard down around, because you have no interest in them, who end up liking you the most.
You know how you eat Taco Bell at 10pm after cheer practice whenever you want? You won’t be able to do that anymore and look the way you do in just a few more years. APPRECIATE THAT BODY! To be honest, as you get older you’ll still pretty much be able to eat what you want and look okay (a perk to being tall), but you will never have that perfect body that you have now. Enjoy it.
Your life (at least until you’re 28) will be different and so much better than you expect. You will meet such amazing people, find more success than you anticipate, and frequently find yourself overwhelmed with joy. It will not be without difficult times, but you will be grateful for all your experiences and find yourself thanking your Heavenly Father over and over for your blessings and your trials.
Enjoy the ride. Don’t compare yourself with others. Look for the best but have realistic expectations. Oh, and make sure you don’t drive off from the gas station with your tank lid on your roof. When you go to retrieve it you end up in fender bender. Nothing major, but it’s a stupid mistake that could have easily been avoided.
28 year old you