Dear 16-year-old Self…

Sometimes I wonder if I knew what I know now 9 or 10 years ago (say that 10 times fast), how much would it change things? Would it change anything at all? What advice would I give my younger self straight from my much wiser, older self (please note the sarcasm)?
These are a few of the things that I think I would want my 16-year-old self to know…
  1. Math never gets easier, just accept it and move on.
  2. Put that bowl of chips away! Seriously, 9 years from now you are still going to be trying to work off the damage that they’ve done!
  3. You really don’t need to figure out what you’re going to do with your life right now. I know the guidance counselors are telling you that you have to have it all figured out but you don’t. And those kids who think they do have their future pegged down, there’s a good chance it’s not going to play out exactly the way they think it will. Relax!
  4. It’s ok not to worry so much. That stomach disorder that you think is going to ruin your life, well it’s not going to. You’re going to figure out how to manage it and all that worry is really only making it worse. So just breathe, it’s all going to be ok.
  5. Do yourself and favour and stop saying you want to be married by 25! You’re going to get there and not be married and do you know what, it’s actually ok! You’re going to meet people and learn things about yourself that are going to change you. And you could have never learned those specific things if you were married. Don’t rush God’s timing.
  6. It’s not cool to buy all of your clothes 2 sizes too big. First of all, every shopping trip you go on with your Mother will end up with you both in tears. I know you hate your body right now, I know you feel ugly and sometimes just wish you were invisible. I know you hide in your oversized clothes. It won’t always be like this. One of these days you are going to lose some weight. You are going to buy your first pair of jeans and a bra that isn’t just meant for sports. You’re going to colour your hair and actually like layers! You’re going to learn how to wear make-up and jewelry and you’re not going to cringe every time you look in the mirror. The frump years will end and you will blossom. So stop telling yourself that you’re worthless. Stop saying that no one will ever love you! Stop scarring yourself with those words because in 10 years you’ll still be dealing with the deep wounds they’ve left.
  7. Stop yelling and arguing every time you’re mad, it doesn’t help anything. Take it down a notch; it’s ok to be wrong. It’s ok to say I’m sorry. It’s ok not to have the answer. Realize that the people you yell at are the people who you love the most, think about what kind of words you use.
  8. That boy, you’re not going to marry him. Don’t waste your time fretting about him. You can do better. Enough said.
  9. I know you’re grieving. I know your family is broken. I know it feels like those things will never be whole again, but they will. Time is going to help ease the pain. Your family is going to heal. You will never forget him, but you will come into a new normal. One day you’ll share his story and you’ll talk about all of the ways that it has changed your life and impacted who you are. You’ll never forget; it will become a part of who you are. And one day your family will sit around that same table and they’ll talk and laugh and life will be full again. Trust me.
  10. Jesus really does love you. You live with this fear that you’re the exception to his love. You worry that He’s out to get you. You don’t think you’re good enough or worthy enough for His love. You think you have too many questions, too many doubts, that you are too screwed up. You’re not. He really does love you, all of you. And He’s going to help you as you walk with Him. He is going to lead you, He’s going to protect you from some things that you can’t see right now. Don’t be afraid to really trust Him. Let go of all those things you hold so tightly to, just take His hand. Release your heavy load. You are so loved girl, you are so loved.
  11. It’s going to be ok, it really is. I know some days are harder than others but you’re ok. Don’t give up, keep going. Remember to laugh and give thanks, it will make a difference. Be intentional in the way that live and love and lead.

I’m not sure if had I heard those things at 16, I would have listened to them or believed them? Just writing them out I can feel some of the pain that I carried then. Sometimes in order to see how far you’ve come, you have to stop and look back to the journey you’ve taken.
Lord, thank you that I’ve never had to walk any road alone.
When I meet with younger girls, the things I wish that I had known when I was their age often leak into our conversations. It might be the natural caregiver and protector in me, but I think it’s also that I feel such a strong desire to see people living full and rich lives. But sometimes life just has to be our teacher and it doesn’t matter if I’ve been told or warned ahead of time. Some things we can only learn when we walk through them, as hard as it is to say. Maybe in 10 years I’ll write another letter to my younger self, hopefully some of these lessons won’t need to be repeated!
Yours truly,
The Kindred Spirit

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