Friday, September 14, 2012

Dear Me: A Letter to Teenage Michelle


Dear 15-Year-Old Michelle,

Here's the deal. I don't want to tell you anything that will alter the course of your life. There are stupid, insane things you will do. There are some really brilliant decisions you'll make. If I tell you too much, you won't be 35-year-old Michelle, and 35-year-old Michelle is pretty awesome.

Trust me.

So, I'll just give you little tidbits. Just enough to make you hold on a little longer. Because right now you're not feeling like there's much to hold onto. There is.

First, I'll address the topic that's always at the front of your mind: boys. FOR THE LOVE, I wish you'd stop thinking about boys, but whatever. You're 15.

Misty and Angela are right. You're wasting your time. He makes you laugh, but he'll cheat on you. (Ending this relationship now will do nothing to alter your future dramatically. It'll just give you a few more months to obsess with T.J., who is the one you really want to be with anyway.)

Misty and Angela are always right. They'll save your life someday. Over and over when you do stupid things, they'll be there to save you. Literally. Cherish them. Tell them you love them. They're what's keeping you going right now, and without them you won't make it to 35.

Go easy on your family. They love you. They do. Someday you'll call your stepdad "Dad," and he'll be your friend. You'll want to talk to him. You'll randomly pick up the phone to call him on a Tuesday afternoon. He'll be your biggest fan. You'll love your sister with a fierce, protective passion. Your mom will still be your hero. (And she'll still laugh at your jokes.) You'll all get along better after you move out.

This will be your last year as a cheerleader. You'll be grateful, especially after you almost get kicked off the squad for being suspended from school. (Don't ask.) Go hug Coach Harger and Dr. Brewer. The only extra-curriculars from high school that will last are running and singing. They'll become part of your personality in ways you can't imagine.

Also, Ms. Moss-Ayad doesn't like you. Get over it. You've got a strong personality; there will be many more people who don't like you. With her - it may have something to do with your preference for Danielle Steel novels over assigned reading. Wait until your senior year. Mr. Raney's loony, but he'll introduce you to British Literature. You'll be hooked.

You're starting to figure out there's not a "popular crowd." By your senior year, none of that junior high stuff will matter. Be kind to everyone. I know you will, but I'm just reminding you. Oh, and don't skip out early on the date with Brian Beech. He'll look forward to it, and it'll hurt him when you sneak out during intermission when he's still got half the performance left. He won't believe you were sick. You'll regret it.

That computer lab on the second floor? Spend a little more time in there. After battling MS-DOS in typing, you'll swear off computers.

Not a good idea, lovely lady.

You tried smoking a cigarette recently. You hated it. You'll try it a few more times, and then you'll buy your first pack. Don't.

You've drunk a bit of alcohol already. You've already made a fool of yourself. Stop. Really. It'll become a problem, and you'll depend on whiskey too much. Nothing good will ever happen when you are drinking.

Nothing.

Stop.

Watch your mouth. It's not cool to cuss. You sound ridiculous and trashy.

Study abroad in college. You've wanted to since you visited Florence last year. You'll get sucked up in your major and think you've got to get out of college quickly to start your career.

Nonsense. Take on the debt and spend a semester in Florence.

While I'm feeling bossy, I'll also write -- Don't dye your hair black the year you get married. It will look awful, and no one will tell you. You will have to chop it all off to get the color out, and then it will look like a skunk is writhing in pain on the back of your head.

When you're 34 and experience a huge life change, your Aunt Tina will write down the title of a book. She will have planted the seed years before, but on one particular visit she will write it down and tell you, "Go get it." You will.

It will be nothing short of miraculous. You will discover your life's purpose. You will discover yourself. Get ready.

For a while, it will be ugly. You will feel anger so hot you think your skin is melting away. You will be confused. You will cry and cry and cry and cry.

Then you will be free.

You know who Jesus is. You believe what they tell you to believe. Or at least you say you do. Someday you'll know who he is. You'll know it in your heart and soul.

And you'll know who you are. You are kind, smart, funny, beautiful, and worthy. You are a good person. You don't believe that, do you?

Trust me.

I won't tell you what you'll be doing at age 35. You wouldn't believe me anyway. I certainly won't tell you whom you'll marry. All the relationship stuff leading up to your marriage is messy, glorious, brutal, and beautiful. You've got to experience it.

One night, when you've been married ten years, you'll be sitting on the couch across from your husband. He will be reading, and you'll be typing on the computer. (See? I told you to cozy up to that computer lab!) You will both look up at the same time and lock eyes. At that moment you will know. Really know. You will have a partner for life.

Again, just hold on a little longer, sweet girl. It will get better. 

You have an awesome future ahead of you.

Blessings,
Your Brilliant Future Self

(I'm writing this as part of a prompt from Emily P. Freeman, author of Graceful {for young women}, a book I wish my 15-year-old self had read. I'm linking this post to her blog, where she's inviting other authors and bloggers to write letters.)

4 comments:

  1. There is something about the tone, content and style of your letter that had me re-read portions instead of rushing through. I love how you transitioned into the present/future scene w/ your husband after talking about some of the tough stuff in the past. It brought hope. And this line, "Again, just hold on a little longer, sweet girl. It will get better." brought tears to my eyes because I could have said the same thing in my letter, to my teenage self.

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    1. Thank you, Amanda. It's amazing how easy it was for me to return to that tumultuous time.

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  2. What a touching post. I just jumped over from Colette after admiring your beautiful plaid dress. A heart wrenching post in some ways, we all should give this a go. While I have many more years perspective to review, I am so glad your 35 year old self can see this. With each decade we nurture our past selves. Each phase has elements we would like to forget and those we applaud. Best to you.

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    1. Thanks, Corrine! "With each decade we nurture our past selves." That is beautifully put and why I am not afraid of aging. The future holds so much promise!

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