Hey old friend…er, younger version of me. I feel like I have so much to say to you, but I’m not quite sure yet where to start. I know you feel like you have the weight of the world on your shoulders, but I want you to know that you’re going to be okay. I know that hearing that small phrase brings you so much comfort, but yes, you will be okay. I certainly cannot promise you that with becoming an adult that things will get easier. I can tell you that your impending “freedom” from Mom & Dad and all things of your childhood is something you’ll inevitably miss. So don’t rush it. I know you won’t listen to me because you’ve been planning the day you could fly solo since you were reading Danielle Steel books in your bedroom way too late, and probably way too young. You always idolized women who held their own, who did it on their own, who made it on their own. I know you’re determined to walk out that front door. Baby girl, you will. Do me a favor though? Savor those moments …. the ones where you’re watching Mom put on her makeup before work, resting on your parents water bed and watching the news before school. The ones where you can hear Dads laughter bellow through the house because of a Seinfeld episode. Cherish playing Barbies with your little sister and video games with your brother. Soon it’ll all feel like something you just imagined rather than lived… and you won’t be able to keep straight what you actually experienced versus thought up. Time is forever fleeting and soon you’ll be on your own in this crazy world with little eyes looking up to you. Enjoy the moments where your biggest concern is that upcoming math test, or if the boy who walks past you every day before Spanish thinks you’re pretty.
That’s my next point though, you are! Pretty, that is. Stop looking in the mirror and being so mean to yourself. My goodness, if I could turn back the clock just to have back that high school body? I would DO IT. Stay active after high school, though. You’ll thank me for that. I wish I could tell you that the unfair thoughts towards yourself become less and less, but honestly, I don’t know if it ever gets any better. If I could tell you just one thing, it would be to go easy on yourself. Maybe that’s what I should be telling my future self, too. You know, some things never change.
Stop worrying about if you’re liked. I know you’re not paying attention to your teacher right now because you’re more worried about your appearance, and overthinking every. little. detail. of your social life for the last week. Probably longer. Let it go. Who cares that you fell going up the stairs the other day? That really mean dude who laughed at you when that happened? Meh, he’s nothing special. I know that because you still think about that moment 10+ years later when you run into him in public. Trust me, don’t fret. It’s likely he, nor any one else but you, remembers that. You learned a valuable lesson in that one moment though: the power of kindness. So, really, you could thank him. And hey, girl… ROCK THEM FOUR STRIPE FAKE ADIDAS SHOES. You wouldn’t think that’s funny sitting where you’re at, but at the ripe age of 31? It’s funny. Laugh. One day you’ll get a little side job and you’ll save up pennies for REAL Nike shoes, and it still won’t make you feel comfortable to talk to your peers. News flash: you’ll always feel out of place. It’s your undiagnosed anxiety whispering lies to you. Darling? You are magic! Any one who makes you feel less than that? Walk away. Trust me, you’ll find your tribe and they will make you feel wonderful. Don’t take them for granted. The ones who show up and prove to you that they love you? Hold on to them with all ten fingers, and if it doesn’t feel weird? All ten toes, too. I’m serious. You’re going to have this poisonous thought that you can do better. I wish I could tell you how wrong you are. The social ladder that you think you’re climbing takes you down to a pit that you’re going to have to crawl out of later… but again, remember, you’re going to be okay. I just wish you didn’t have to learn lessons the hard way. It makes for one hell of a sense of humor later on, so I guess I wish I could just tell you to be more careful. Don’t be so reckless with your heart. Every choice you ever made landed you where you are now, and trust yourself. Trust me. You are beyond happy, now. The pain you’re feeling from that jack-hole dumping you? The gut punch agony that you think you’ll never escape? The sheer embarrassment from bad choices? It fades, and it teaches you who to trust (including your own intuition). Just be patient. Whew, that’s the best advice really. Patience. Your knight in shining armor (aka a broken down Cadillac) will ride up when you’re in your late 20’s. I wish I could tell you to wait for him. He’s the game changer.
Now listen good & hard for one more moment. You, sweet soul, do not need to sacrifice your mind or body for an-y-bod-y. You will think to yourself too many times, “oh well”. You matter. Please hear me… take care of yourself. Don’t put yourself into a situation that you have to just close your eyes and wait for it to be over. You have the power to stop whatever whirlwind you are in. It will be ok, and you will make it to the other side. Believe in yourself and stand up. Don’t sit idle and just let anyone walk on you. You are STRONG. You are amazing, and you do not need to just let whatever happen. You deserve so much more than you believe right now. Don’t let your demons win. Don’t assume you’re worthless. Take back the wheel. This is YOUR life, not any one else’s. You make the decisions for YOU.
They invent this crazy website called “Facebook” at some point in your college years, and I just want you to remember that IT’S PUBLIC. Like, unforgivingly public. You still cringe at your “memories” when they pop up daily. Not everything needs to be shared… (says the girl writing all this out in a public blog letter to herself… ha!) Channeling my best Forrest Gump impression, “… and that’s all I’m gonna say about that.”
Honestly? The advice I’m writing to you now is still very applicable to me today. I just felt like writing it to you, 16 year old Katie, because I feel like it’s you who I’m the most critical of. You’re going to make boat loads of mistakes. You still do. You still jump into situations where you immediately regret them, and your hard headed stubbornness will cloud your judgement. I think the best lessons I’ve learned I can sum up in about 30 points…
- God is real, God is good.
- Your Momma turns out to be your best friend.
- Love is a verb.
- Hard times show you who your real friends are. Pay attention, & don’t chase those who leave your side.
- Good or bad, each moment is a gift often with a lesson tucked neatly in the seams.
- Not everyone who offers a shoulder to cry on or ears to listen have your best interest at heart.
- Having a soft heart in a cruel world is a blessing, not a curse. You are not weak.
- It’s narcissistic to think that everyone should and will like you.
- Not everyone is born with the same heart as you, but don’t let that stop you from loving them.
- However, in reference to No. 9, know your limits… for another truth is, sometimes enough is enough.
- Anxiety is often bred by the fear of tomorrow &, really, tomorrow isn’t promised!
- Depression is often your reality from dwelling in the past. Again, let it go.
- Comparing yourself to others is time well wasted, and the number one thief of JOY!
- Mean people need love the most.
- Recognition & appreciation are the best gifts you can give but can’t wrap.
- There wouldn’t be any room in this world for hate if we took a moment to stand in the other persons shoes.
- Making decisions when you’re emotional? That’s not a good idea.
- If your heart says yes, but your head says no… go with your heart! Every. Single. Time.
- Life is complicated, and beautiful.
- You’re strong enough to get through anything that is brought to you.
- Whatever you find yourself doing in your spare time, make that your full time passion.
- It’s ok to change your mind.
- It’s ok to take care of YOU, first.
- It’s when you don’t have anything nice to say that you should, in fact, say something nice.
- It’s easier to wait, and be sure, than it is to repair damages.
- Send thank you notes.
- You should probably never cut your own hair.
- There’s nothing that coffee, wine or Jesus can’t fix.
- Taking the high road has a prettier view.
- Never take yourself too seriously.
So, dear younger me? Breathe. We got this.