A Letter To My 18-Year-Old Self11
I’m sitting here just over 14 years in the future. You’re not going to believe it.
Part of me wants to tell you not to go to court reporting school. Part of me wants to tell you to go learn how to be a graphic designer or a radio DJ because, really, who couldn’t think of a better life than listening to music all day and sharing it with complete strangers. But I know that you decided in 8th grade that this is what you wanted to do, so that’s what I think you should do. Besides, I don’t think you’d be who you are now if you don’t, and I kinda like who you are now. At least most days. But every day I’m in love with who you’re becoming.
See, it’s been a long road. And I know you have plans, but you’re never going to believe what’s happened. There are going to be some really dark years. I guess it kind of starts with college, but all-in-all it was a pretty good experience. But then in one moment your life is going to change. And in all honesty, you don’t handle it very well. You shut down. And instead of turning to anyone for help, you decide to try to figure things out by yourself. You start buying things you can’t afford. You start eating. A lot. And mostly you quit feeling.
It’s hard to imagine, isn’t it?
I know you’re sitting there trying to make sure you don’t make a wrong move, but sometimes you think too much. Sometimes you need to just do something. Don’t just sit there. You’ve got to get out and live. Your plan that you have right now? Finish school, get married, have a family, live comfortably. I think that just now, almost 15 years later, you’re starting to get to the comfortable part. It’s not always easy, but it’s way better than it was. School is done, but the married and family part are still waiting. And you know what? You’re okay with that. At 18 I know you couldn’t imagine being 32 and unmarried and without children. But at 32 you live a pretty fulfilled life. You’ve got friends that you can’t imagine living without. Your family has been through a lot of rough stuff, but I think that’s made you closer. You have two nephews and two nieces and your little brother is getting ready to have twins! I can’t hardly believe it now, and I’m sure you’re thinking it’s just ridiculous.
You do, however, screw up a lot. Like a lot. You say some really stupid things. You hurt people you love. Through the dark years you learn how it feels to hate yourself. You abuse your body by neglecting it. Remember that feeling of playing a basketball game with your friends? You haven’t done that in years.
But it gets better.
You start to love yourself. You realize that grace isn’t just a pipe dream. And God really doesn’t make mistakes. I don’t really remember when, but eventually you realize that God really does love you. And those mistakes you’ve made? He’s got them covered. Jesus? Yeah. He took care of them. And if God really does love me, then I guess I can too. And you decide to leave your past alone.
You’ve got a lot of the scars that you carry around with you. But now you like to think of them as character. They’re going to make you who you are. They make you uniquely…you. And I like that.
And you forgive yourself.
I want to tell you to be strong. I want to tell you to not be afraid. And yet there are still times when I’m scared and weak. And sometimes the past does come back. And it hurts.
But you continue to move forward.
And you get knocked down. But you get back up one more time.
That’s the trick, I think.
You’ve just got to continue to get back up. Take one more step. Keep moving. Keep searching. One day you’re going to find what you’re looking for. One day you’re going to look in the mirror and smile.
Because you are incredible. You’re going to look back one day and realize that you went though hell and back.
And you made it.
And now at 32 there may still be hell in front of you. Who knows. But now? Now you know you can make it.
And I know at times you definitely don’t feel it, but just remember: You are enough.
You always have been.
You always will be
Stay strong. It gets better.