Dear Younger Self,
If there were one thing I could give you, it would be the confidence to speak up. I know it’s awkward in a room full of people where you feel alone, but the fact is that you’re not alone. If you speak up with confidence, that confidence is what will show, not the fact that doing so took some effort. Don’t worry; you will never be a loudmouth or one of those people who can’t seem to stop talking. Just know that if you speak up and share your opinion once in a while, you might be surprised at how many people want to listen. It’s okay to be quiet; it’s good, even. But it’s also okay to share once in a while. Have the confidence to speak up as you do in places like gymnastics class and writers group.
Speaking of gymnastics, one day you will nail that aerial cartwheel, and yes, it will feel awesome. You’ll grow to become one of those older girls who sticks around to help instruct the younger ones. Cherish those days in the studio. I know you can’t imagine your life without gymnastics, but there will come a day when you will no longer have the luxury of a place with mats and a beam where you can practice. I’m not going to say that you won’t miss it deeply. You will. Even watching the summer Olympics will be hard for you, because every time you watch one of those girls perform on the floor or the beam or the vault, your heart aches to be back out there practicing. At the same time, though, you won’t be able to tear yourself away from the TV, because watching those girls allows you to imagine that it’s you out there. Every time you watch someone flip through the air and stick the landing, you will remember exactly what that feels like.
I know that sometimes other kids will look down on you because you’re home-schooled. Don’t let the stereotypes drag you down. Prove everyone wrong. You know this already, but home-schooling is one of the best gifts you have ever been given. Cherish those days. You will always look back on them with fondness. When college gets stressful (which is a lot, just to forewarn you), you will miss those days. Home-schooling will give you so many things. Not only will it be a factor in developing the close relationship you have with your family, but it will also give you incredible academic opportunities like being able to attend real college classes at the local college while still in high school. Plus, it gives you more free time to read and write. For fun, of course.
You’ve known that you love writing since you were as young as five. You’d spend hours in your backyard writing in a little pink notebook, jotting down lists of anything and everything you could think of. You’ll fill up that notebook and many more with your lists. While you are still quite young, about six years old, you will write your first short story on red construction paper and fold it up to look like a little book. Then, before you even enter college, you’ll accomplish your dream of being published. You’ll write two short stories that will be published in a magazine.
You know yourself best while you are writing, and you feel the most free when you’re putting words on a page. That feeling won’t change. Keep up with that handwritten journal you’ve kept since third grade, because you’ll still be keeping it all these years later, though there are many volumes of journals now. Maybe someday you’ll even let someone read them; it hasn’t happened yet.
In college, of course, you’ll major in English with a Creative Writing emphasis. You’ll meet some awesome professors that will mentor you and help you make your writing better than ever. You’ll get another piece published: this time nonfiction. You’ll get involved with a campus literary journal, fall in love with the publishing field, and eventually become Editor-in-Chief of that journal. You’ll take novel writing and novel revision workshops that will completely change the way you both write and read.
I know that things like college graduation sound far away right now, but trust me. It will happen, and as you’re getting ready to walk up on stage to receive your diploma, you will be so proud of yourself. All of the stress, late nights, and hard work will all be worth it. That’s something you’ll want to remember as you’re trying to juggle 18 credits, a job, and a social life.
I must warn you that you won’t get a job right away out of college. You’ll struggle mentally and emotionally with the fact that your life isn’t going the way you planned. It will be one of the hardest things you’ve ever had to struggle with. Take heart, though, and remember that it isn’t your plan that matters, anyway, and that your life is in the best hands possible. Everything will be okay.
Finally (and I know you won’t like this piece of advice too much), I need you to open yourself up a little. It’s always been your first instinct to try to tuck everything away inside yourself when you go through tough times or when you’re feeling down. Don’t do that. You are surrounded by people who care about you. Talk to them like you talk to a blank page. Tell them what’s on your mind. Let them see you cry once in a while, even though you hate crying in front of others. You may not realize it, but letting your feelings out will make you feel better. I’m not saying you have to let it all out, but maybe occasionally, share how you’re feeling with someone close to you. Take heart that one day you’ll meet someone who will show you just how much better it feels to share your feelings instead of trapping them inside. You’ll eventually go on to get engaged to that person (yes, you will find Mr. Right. Just be patient.). His name is Brad, and he fits in perfectly with your crazy, wonderful family.
As you go through life, stay confident, cling to your faith, and cherish your loved ones. Many stages of your life will come and go; make sure you enjoy each one to the fullest. Everything is going to be great. You’ll see.
Your Future Self