Monday, June 28, 2010

Letters to my past self

Someone whose blog I read had the idea of writing letters to one's past self. I wrote a LONG letter to the 15-year-old me but decided not to publish it because it would require so much explanation. So, instead, I'm writing a few short letters to myself at different ages.

Dear nine-year-old Sheila,

You are so desperate to go to "real school." Really, it's not that great. Just remember that the people there aren't better than you, so trying to be just like them is silly. Be yourself. For all you or I know, they would like your real self.

Love,
Twenty-four-year-old Sheila


Dear twelve-year-old Sheila,

Without my advice of the previous letter, you have spent three years trying to be like everyone else. Of course you're failing miserably, because you aren't (and never will be) like the other eggs in the carton. That's okay though -- who you are is pretty great. Try not to be so shattered when other people -- those who sit next to you, or your teacher -- don't appreciate you. They don't even know you, so it doesn't really matter what they think! You do have a few friends, so listen to them and not to the others. Oh, and the friend who is friends with you one day so you will help her with her homework, and totally ditches you the next day? She's not a real friend; don't waste your time trying to get her to stick around.

The chin-length haircut is awful; you never should have done it. Soon you'll get a pixie cut, and it will look awesome, but you put it off way too long. Oh, and the braces? Don't complain about them, they'll end up (mostly) being worth it.

Love,
Twenty-four-year-old Sheila


Dear fourteen-year-old Sheila,

Don't go to boarding school. Just don't. You think your life is going so much better because you're planning to go there. Actually, it's going better because you're older and becoming a more thoughtful and considerate person. Even now I know you have some doubts, and you're wondering whether things might be much better if you didn't go. Trust those thoughts.

However, I know you don't have the benefit of this advice, but don't worry. After several very hard years, everything really will be okay again.

Love,
Twenty-four-year-old Sheila


Dear sixteen-year-old Sheila,

You just got kicked out of boarding school. No one will tell you why. But it doesn't matter. Just know that it wasn't God rejecting you because you weren't good enough for Him -- it was God rescuing you from a place that would have been very bad for you, if you'd stayed. He has way better things in mind for you for the future.

Right now you are in a black hole of depression. It would help to talk about it, but I know you won't until it's all over anyway. But there is one person who will save you: your baby brother. Loving him heals so many wounds. One day next spring, you will look at the flowers and the green grass and suddenly realize that you can see the light again. It will happen, believe me. And you and that baby brother of yours will be especially close forever.

Love,
Twenty-four-year old Sheila


Dear eighteen-year-old Sheila,

You're about to go to college. How excited you are! Your theme song goes, "When I leave, I don't know what I'm hoping to find, and when I leave, I don't know what I'm leaving behind." It's true. You have no idea how many changes this will bring to you -- but you feel they'll be big. You're right. You will grow up here. You will make real friends -- not like the grade-school friends whom you never spoke to again. And the biggest change of your life begins here.

Love,
Twenty-four-year-old Sheila


Dear nineteen-year-old Sheila,

Give John time. Stop freaking out. All shall be well.

Love,
Twenty-four-year-old Sheila


Dear twenty-two-year-old Sheila,

Good for you, you graduated from college! I know you really wish you could stay. But have no fear--life will only get better. This one year out from college will be rough, though. You'll be a bit lonely. But teaching is a great job, you have some good friends, and you've got the grit to push through the stress and the tiredness.

I know you think you know what you're doing as far as teaching goes. But you don't. When the kids behave well for a week, you'll think it's safe to be nice to them. But don't do it. Be strict. You can't let up on them for a minute, because they'll take advantage, you'll come back down on them hard, and then they'll resent you because they thought you were "nice." Don't get drawn into arguments--send all the kids who talk back straight to the office. You haven't got time for that. Also, keep better records.

Love,
Twenty-four-year-old Sheila


Dear twenty-three-year-old Sheila,

In three weeks, you'll be marrying the man of your dreams. Frankly, you're terrified. You're sure you've been deluding yourself all this time, and that marriage won't really make either of you happy. But it will. This is going to be one of the harder years of your life, but you will be very happy. Despite sickness, tiredness, busy-ness, opposite schedules, and seesawing emotions, or perhaps because of all these things, you will be drawn closer and closer to your new husband, and the closer you get, the more you will love him.

The only advice I have for you is to relax. Every time something goes wrong, you panic and leap to the worst possible conclusion. Your first married fight, you are convinced is the beginning of the end of your marriage -- but it isn't. You two are both learning, so when something goes wrong or doesn't go right on the first try, just laugh it off and try again. You'll figure each other out. I know you think you know him now -- but you still have a lot of learning to do. Just enjoy the learning process, and when you get confused or discouraged about it, turn to him as your best friend.

Love,
Twenty-four-year-old Sheila


Now if I could really send letters back to the past, they'd be way more detailed. I feel I could save myself so much grief if I could change decisions I've made, knowing about them what I do now. Only, as every time travel movie ever will tell you, when you try to change the past, you mess up the present. If I hadn't suffered all the things I have suffered, would I be who I am? Probably not, so in the end, I'm thankful I can't send them. I'll just take one piece of advice that came up in almost every letter: don't stress, don't worry, don't be afraid -- it will all turn out all right. It always has so far, so I'll try to trust that it always will.



2 comments:

Heather J. Chin said...

So sweet and funny. =)

Lauren @ Hobo Mama said...

I really like this idea of looking back at the past and having a charitable view of even the bad decisions. I feel the same way when I think about the things that I chose wrong at the time. You sound at peace with yourself at all the ages.

I included you in my Sunday Surf.

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