Monday, September 10, 2012

DEAR 16 YEAR OLD ME

“I live in that solitude which is painful in youth, but delicious in the years of maturity.” ― Albert Einstein
 
I've been following the blog Chatting at the Sky and the blogger, Emily Freeman, urged her readers to write a letter to their teenage selves. She's released her book, Graceful, and I plan on getting my hands on it soon. Initially, I smiled and giggled at the thought until I realized I had a tremendous amount to say to my sixteen year old self. I'm not one to dwell or linger in the past as I feel it hinders me from moving forward to my full potential. But the more I thought about what I would say to my teenage self I decided not to let this opportunity pass. 

Dear 16 year old Me,

Hi there! It is I, your future self twenty-eight years later and wiser. I have this burning desire to smack you upside your head. Why? To knock some holy sense into that fantasy-filled, insecurity-ridden, no-confidence head of yours.  


First, I DEMAND that you step away, burn, or donate those horrific romance novels you're filling your head with. It will skew your view on love and relationships. Those trashy novels will alter the course of your life in a way you never expected. Second, slow your damn roll and stop trying to accelerate your youth. In 3 short years you will find yourself fulfilling the role of mother and wife in the most haphazard way. 

I want to shake you until you appreciate the skinny, lanky, awkward body you have. Turn off the t.v. and stop watching the music videos with the big booties filling the screen. Trust me, when you're in your 40s you will fall in love with the body your mama gave ya and appreciate your skinny self. I do applaud you for discovering your love for exercising and working out because it will be so much easier to keep the middle age bulges at bay. Oh, and get this...YOU WILL RUN HALF MARATHONS AND ACTUALLY LOVE IT! Yes, you will I promise you. Don't roll your eyes at me. 

You can quit pressing your lips together hoping it will decrease their fullness. Having the nickname "bongo lips" won't be annoying after ten years because big lips will be so in! Women will be draining their life savings to have a nasty drug called Botox injected into their lips to create long lasting fullness. The kind of fullness that looks like a hive of bees went to town on their lips. OH, and seriously, stop it with the useless pectoral exercises. One day after you have your first baby and your mammary glands are beyond engorged you'll be crying from the agonizing pain of your D-sized milk filled boobs. You will NEVER EVER want to have a boob job again and will lovingly appreciate the little God blessed you with. 

So you secretly love Ray B. with all your heart and it kills you to talk for hours on the phone with him while listening to his yapping about girls, girls, and more girls. You want him to like you back so badly but so do a LOT of girls. Hey, it's okay! Because you and that dumb boy will get together 24 years from now and he will be ready to love you and commit to you. He'll still blather on about girls, girls, girls but this time you're secure enough to know he's just a guy being a guy. But for you at 16 I want to yank the phone from your hands and stop you from answering his phone calls. You don't HAVE to endure his blabbing about other girls just to be close to him. You CAN have dignity, you know. Just be patient


I know you'll become fed up with Ray for not making any moves or reciprocating love. I also know that in a year's time you'll throw caution to the wind like a deflated balloon, say F it all, and give up your virginity to a complete L-O-S-E-R. How I wish I could be there at the precise moment and wield divine intervention. That careless decision will set the tone for your lack of self-respect.

You keep looking for love in the wrong places which will determine the rocky path your life will take.  I know why you yearn and long to be loved. Your dad never affirmed your worth and I hate to break it to you but he never will. You'll accept it one day but in the meantime find it within yourself to love YOU. This is crucial because 3 years from where you are now you will allow yourself to receive physical/mental abuse because you believe you deserve it. YOU DO NOT!

I won't tell you to squash your rebellion although it's going to get you in a LOT of trouble. It's the part of you I want intact because it will prohibit you from being complacent, turn you into a non-conformist, and provide the courage to walk your own path later in life. I assure you that you won't care about trying to make people happy, fitting in their mold, and busting your butt to meet their expectations. You will make mistakes but will learn from them. Although, I urge you to amp your rebellion up a notch when it comes to your parents crushing your dream to be a photojournalist as if it were a pesky insect. Taking the safe route into the medical field is a regret you'll carry every day and will weigh your spirit down.

I'm aware of how embarrassed you are of your "pizza face" but be happy because it will clear up as you grow older. Endure those weekly trips to the dermatologist because they will pay off in the end. Don't be shocked but may I suggest you cease this obsession with name brand jeans/purses/shoes now? Because when you're comfortable in your skin you'll turn your button nose up at any label that screams "designer". I know! I know! Believe me, you will! You'll find your own unique style in vintage and second-hand stores like Buffalo Exchange. Oh, and Forever 21 will be your best friend. Screw those Jordache jeans that never fit your bony butt. You'll never want to relive the 80s again even when the fashion mavens resurrect those horrid styles. So quit dwelling on trying to keep up with the rich kids because they won't matter in a few years.


I should warn you now that you don't have to be in control of EVERYTHING. You can't overprotect your heart  from being broken. It's called being human and you'll learn to accept its limitations with grace. I know that you'll attempt suicide three times in the upcoming years but let me slap you with this truth: NO ONE and NOTHING is worth your life! Got that? I can't stress it enough. There will never come a time when the world ends over a certain situation because the blinding sun ALWAYS shines after EVERY storm. You'll weather severe ones and come out a fierce warrior afterward. I promise you that your presence in people's lives will make a significant impact and you'll realize killing yourself was a lame idea. Like, ohmigod, totally lame! 


I know it's no consolation for you but the abuse you'll experience for ten years in your first marriage will act as the catalyst to your fight against human trafficking. It will be your life's calling to battle against this social injustice,  volunteering your time and photography for the non-profit organization My Refuge House. And you thought you were a coward operating in fear! I guarantee that you'll outgrow this fear and will be undaunted in your fight against this evil. 

I wish I could take your bad decisions away but they're stepping stones that will lead you to the woman I am today. You'll embrace your imperfections with solid confidence. Eventually, you will tap into the source of your invaluable worth and won't allow anyone to rob you of it again. Learn to be good to yourself now instead of discovering it later. Oh, and listen closely to the the string of people who try to talk to you about Jesus because you'll think it's the last thing you'd want but is actually the peace your heart was searching for. It'll prevent you from practicing the occult, addiction to drugs/alcohol, renouncing God, and getting into some serious trouble. 


The presence of your younger brother and sister might be an irritation but take a step back. Put your book down and pay attention. Time has a way of fast forwarding without waiting for you to catch up. One day you'll admit that your mom was right: you kids will only have each other so get along. You'll hurt both of them deeply and I want you to circumvent those moments if possible. Don't marginalize your relationships with them because they're the ones who will be there during a family crisis. And there will be plenty in the coming years. 

BE patient, love well, forgive quickly (although this will be a long process), and take courage in EVERYTHING you do because this is my promise: you will love who you are and your 40s will be the best years of your life! Be thankful for the failed relationships you'll experience because they're lessons that will help you in your commitment now. You're a fighter, a survivor, and one bad mama jamma! Never fail in being true to who you are. 


With the fiercest love, 


44 year old Me


P.S. I've enclosed some photos for you to keep on your journey as token reminders to NEVER give up on your life. Remember you ALWAYS have something good to offer. 

This is the 16 year old you I'm talking to! It's a page from Ray's album, remember? BTW, after you have your kids your hair will become stick straight and your hairy legs will become a figment of your imagination. Your legs will only need to be shaved every 2 months. 

This is who you will be: a mother and grandma. It is your reason for existing, loving, and living. You'll go through hellish times with your kids but your fighter spirit will bring you out of tempestuous times.

There you are with your sister and daughter loving life on a Sunday afternoon. Yes, you & your sister will be best friends! I kid you NOT! And you will have many sister shenanigans together.

Posing with your bad boy at the 2011 Disney Half Marathon. I TOLD you you'd LOVE running half marathons! OH, and in your 40s it's actually cool to profess your obsession with all things Star Wars. 


Tadaa!!! You and Ray together 28 years later! I know I couldn't believe it either. 

This was taken last week. This is the 44 year old you who's comfortable in her skin, embraces the imperfections, and loves life even though it's not where it should be. 

Last but not least I leave you with this photo I pilfered from Facebook. Never mind what Facebook is, you'll find out soon enough. You'll despise it more than you'll love it. But take those words and let it grow in your heart.