13 September 2012

Dear Almost-16-Year-Old Me.

One of my favorite authors has written another book, this time for young women struggling to accept grace and to be loved. I needed to understand this when I was 16. I was just as confused and insecure a teenager as any. 
I love Emily's heart for teens. And she's right -- they "need us to remember what it was like".

So this is my exercise in remembrance. A letter to myself.

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Dear almost-16-year-old gangly girl in the stretched out white tank top,
You're me, just an earlier model. You're totally introverted, super creative, and musically talented -- you just don't altogether know it yet. You're still trying to figure yourself out.

You're searching for meaning, for connection, for love.

You've never been kissed and you're not sure you want to be. You take things super seriously and replay conversations you've had with friends over and over again to make sure you didn't sound dumb. And if you think you did, you take things way out of proportion and call yourself mean names. It's OK to be serious. It's OK to analyze. These things are simply part of your genetic makeup. But negative self-talk? That won't get you anywhere.

You are brave, strong, courageous and super thoughtful. The experiences that you are going through right now, all the tough family stuff, all the stressful social situations -- they are making you into a pretty awesome person. You're in the middle of it all and can't see what the future holds AND you have little control over your life circumstances -- that's hard. But you will be okay. Maybe even better for it.  

Keep trusting in the One who cares about every little detail of your life.
Mind if I share some advice? Stuff that's tough to see right now, but you'll understand in about 13 years?

1} You'll wish you had gleaned more information from your grandparents. You'll want all her recipes, so you can impress your family and friends. You'd gain wisdom from more chats with him about writing, he has a lot of experience and valuable information to share.

2} It's super important to discover what you're good at, as early as you can. Don't concentrate so much on your weaknesses, beating yourself up and wishing you were different. Focus on your strengths and spend much time investing in them.

3} Don't worry about trying to do things just to get approval from others. Do what refreshes you. Do what invigorates you. Do things that make you unique. Realize that everyone is different and that is cool.

4} And you know those times when you just let go of your worries and hung out with friends at the lake? Do that more often. Bask in the emptiness and fullness of nature and in shared experience with people who care about you. LET them care about you. Be honest, vulnerable.

5} Job shadow. It'll save you 10-15 visits to the registrar's office in college.

6} Don't wish away your stage of life. Adulthood brings great responsibility, unwanted late nights, and blowout diapers. Enjoy the simplicity and freedom you'll have at 16.

You're going to fight your bangs for a long time until finally you realize there's such a thing as heavy bangs. And finally, 29 years later, you'll hit the jackpot.
The Backstreet Boys will be lodged in your mind forever. Even though you only heard their songs at the mall.

You're going to rush through college in order to get a degree and a husband and a family, but then you'll wish you had studied abroad and been a student missionary.

Don't give your parents too little credit. They're doing their best and they love you.

Be loved. You are.

Signed,
the older and wiser one with her first five gray hairs
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Learn more about Graceful, the book for young women, by Emily Freeman