Dear Me: A Letter To My Teenage Self

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Over at Chatting At The Sky, I saw that Emily Freeman was encouraging her peers to write a letter to their teenage selves as a way to introduce her new book Graceful, so I thought I would join in and link up! Sounds like fun, right? Or cathartic, nonetheless.
I've written a letter somewhat like this in the past, but now that I am at a very different place in my life {a mother}, I realize I have so much more to say to myself! So .. here goes nothing.

Dear Teenage Me,
Clear your mind of everything you think is important. Erase it. Being the head cheerleader. Who you are going to the Homecoming dance with. What that girl said about you in Algebra class. Forget it. Today those things seem bigger than life. You will lose sleep over them. You will think that those things make up your character. But don't be fooled. They mean nothing in the grand scheme of things.
Once you get out into the real world, you will find that what matters is how you treat people. How you love them. How you forgive. What is important is your faith and how it is used as a tool, as an example for the lives of others. Your family, and how much quality time you can spend with them before you no longer have the chance. When you get older, you will no longer get to see your grandparents as often because of distance. Don't let that stop you. See them as much as you can. Hug their necks as tight as you can. And don't just smile and nod when they tell you those stories of being barefoot in the park on the day they met. Listen. Really listen.
What is also important are your friendships that you build. The girl that you are in constant competition with now, well, believe it or not, you guys will end up really good friends in your late twenties. You will find out that you and her have more in common than you ever thought. So be kind to her now. Don't let your own insecurities and jealousy get in the way of a beautiful friendship. In fact, nip that in the bud now while you have a chance. Life is not a competition. Rejoice in the success of others and be happy for them. Don't envy their lives. Don't try to live up to what others do or what they have. You are the only version of you that will ever be created. Be content in who you are. What you look like. What you are talented at. Be at peace with you. The earlier you learn this, the better. I'm afraid you don't catch on before your mid twenties, but oh, how I wish you would.

That emptiness you feel inside, yeah I remember it. The one you try to fill with guys that disrespect you and treat you like dirt? That space is for God to fill. Stop trying to let someone else make you happy. It doesn't work. Get out of the abusive relationships. Be brave. Don't look back. You will eventually get to feel what love really feels like. This is not it. And this will take its toll on you. I'm sorry, but it does. It leads you down a path of low self esteem and it spirals out of control. Some of your worst characteristics as an adult stem from this portion of your life. Though, I wouldn't want you to change any of it. It led us here. Just take heart. Know that it passes. You get through it. You learn. You eventually heal that part of your soul and you feel love.

It's coming, hold on.

Right now, you couldn't get farther away from your brother, I know. I mean, eww, he's your brother, right? Right now you are too cool to hang out with him. To try to understand him. You will soon realize he is one of the best friends you will ever have. You will be there for each other through thick and thin. Some of your favorite moments of your life ... will be with him. And nothing can come between the two of you and break that bond. You are there for each other when you need each other most. And as "cool" as you think you are now, you will soon realize that he's always been a lot cooler than us, let's face it.


More than anything, be hopeful. I can tell you, life when you get here, and meet up with me, is glorious. You find a man that thinks you are worth marrying, flaws and all. I know you don't believe me now, but it's true. He helps you work through all of the pain from your past, and doesn't leave your side. He helps heal you. And once you're healed he makes you his wife and he gets to see the best parts of you, deep inside. You don't deserve him, don't get me wrong, but he's worth all of the heartache you are going to feel on the road to finding him. Every time you think you've really messed up, don't be too hard on yourself. Sometimes mistakes lead you to the best endings.
And the family you have always wanted? Well, I can't tell you how many children you will end up with, but I know for a fact that you will one day feel your heart overflow with joy because you make a sweet little boy laugh. It's the best feeling in the world. This is what I'm trying to tell you. All of the worries you have now, about your skin and your weight and what everyone thinks of you ... it's all petty. When you are sneaking up on thirty, you will go out in public with spit up on your shoulder and sweet potatoes in your hair. You won't have on any makeup and will have some weight from your pregnancy left on your hips. But it won't matter. The little boy you will have in your arms will make you so incredibly proud, it won't matter one bit what you look like. It's the beauty of motherhood. You stop being so self centered and your life becomes centered around someone else. You'll love it. Dirty diapers and all.

So I will make this easy for you, and sum it all up.
Replace all of those unimportant things in your life with things that matter. With God, with family, with true friendships, and with studying. (By the way, you are going to lose at Trivial Pursuit every time you play it, at least until you are 30. Just get used to it).
Don't worry so much about what people think of you. It won't matter. Your idea of success when you get older won't be how popular you are or how many guys want to date you. It will be the happiness you have in your marriage, the love you feel with your son, the friendships you've acquired over the years, and most importantly, the name you have as a Christian.
Live for others. If you are constantly living to find your own happiness, you very seldom will. But if you devote yourself to charity work and giving to others, you will find all kinds of joy. You've got a long way to go, but you'll look back and smile on your journey, I promise.
And never, ever, forget you are loved.
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