On Sunday, I will be 26. In 2 weeks, it will be 2020. The end of a decade and what a decade it has been! So many things have happened to me I’ve been through so many emotionally draining things this decade. So many fabulous things and so many treacherous things. I have a feeling, from knowing people and from watching people, this decade has been intense for a lot of people. I’m going to write a letter to “younger me” and it’ll be a little personal, but I want it to be for everyone. So, here we go.
Dear younger me,
I’m proud of you. You are strong. So much stronger than you ever knew you could be. Of course, that is because of God in you, but you have to accept and embrace it, so do that. In the future, accept and embrace God’s strength in you.
I want to thank you for the things you’ve taught me. I want to thank you for hanging on and for trying. I want to thank you for being you. You tried so hard not to be you, to be different, to be who people wanted you to be, but you couldn’t. You couldn’t be anyone but you and I thank you for that. The things you hated so much about yourself this past decade have become your favorite things about yourself today. So, thank you.
Dear 16-year-old me,
This is the year you’ve started going to “normal” school again. You’re learning to be insecure. You used to believe in yourself. You used to love yourself. You used to not care what others thought. 4 years ago, you slowly started to care, but it didn’t really hit you until this year. I’m sorry about that. I’m sorry you felt the need to please people. That you felt like you had to be different than yourself and more like others.
If I could go back and tell you anything, then I would tell you to be yourself. I would tell you to believe in yourself. I would tell you that your friends, at least the real ones, will love you as you are. I know you’re afraid. I know you crave relationships. That you worry about them not loving you because they laugh at the things that make you who you are. That is wrong. It sucks and it hurts, but believe it or not, it’s their way of loving you. It’s totally unhealthy and ultimately unChristlike, but they are human. This is how they love you. Please love you, too.
Dear 17-year-old me,
I’m sorry life hurts so much. I’m sorry I expected perfection from you. Maybe if I had listened to Hannah Montana, then you wouldn’t have felt so much pressure to perform. Maybe you would have loved yourself. Maybe you would have remembered the beauty of being that 12-year-old girl who spun around the gym not caring what anyone thought of you. Maybe… maybe… maybe… I’m sorry for all that, but I’m more sorry that I wouldn’t change a thing. Your brokenness brought me closer to God. Your brokenness taught me to really appreciate those in my life who love me despite my crazy. Your brokenness taught me that brokenness is okay. What isn’t okay is wallowing in your brokenness instead of taking it to the Lord. Your brokenness taught me that, so thanks!
Dear 18-year-old me,
Thank you for being unashamedly obsessed with BarlowGirl and Demi Lovato. Thank you for surrendering your hurts and desires to God the day you turned 18. Thank you for letting Him use Demi and the Barlows to drag you from your pit of darkness and lead you to healing. Thank you for taking a chance and accepting Caitlyn’s invitation to a new church. You have no idea how much the Lord is going to use this church to heal you, grow you, and show you who He is. Jehovah Jireh. Jehovah Rapha. Jehovah Shalom.
Dear 19-year-old me,
I’m sorry I let you experience your first real heartbreak. I don’t know if I could have done anything to prevent it, because “the heart wants what it wants.” But I do know I could have softened the blow if I had been more honest about what I was thinking and feeling. In 6 years, your best friend will say you probably weren’t ready to handle it. You’ll deny it at first, but then you’ll realize it’s true. You’ll need a relatable movie, a lot of prayer, and a social media break before you’re ready to handle those feelings. Still, honesty is the best policy. You lied to yourself about your feelings and that’s what made it so hard.
P.S. Thanks for showing me that it’s okay to admit you’ve bitten off more than you can chew. You knew you couldn’t handle the stress of Physics and Trigonometry, so you confessed and let it go. Thanks for that. You’ll feel guilty for that decision for a little while, but eventually, you’ll learn it was the right decision.
Dear 20-year-old me,
Last year, you got your heart broken. This year, your parents got divorced. A younger you would have expected you to give up love. After all, you are a hopeless romantic who has been forever single. You fell for someone who definitely wasn’t the one, but you tried to convince yourself he could be. And your parents divorced after fighting your whole life. Love doesn’t seem so glamorous or even realistic these days. Just you wait. Would you believe me if I told you you’ll be single and turning 26 and actually be okay with it? It’s okay. I can hear you laughing. I’m not surprised. I’m more surprised that I’m not only okay with being single, but also, believe it or not, might actually want to stay this way. Anyway, thanks for being a hopeful romantic instead of a hopeless romantic. Rose-colored glasses look way better on you than jade anyway.
Dear 21-year-old me,
You did it! You moved out on your own! You got a “grownup” job and you’re totally rocking it! You’re kind of going through a weird culture shock as you encounter non-Christian society for the first time, but you’re kind of also rocking that. Everyone everywhere will immediately know you’re the church kid and they’ll love you for it. Occasionally, you’ll be treated like a child for it, but it’s cool. Mostly it’s because you’re so… innocent compared to everyone else. Trust me, you’d rather be childlike and innocent than fit in with the crowd. A lot of your coworkers will even respect and admire you for your beliefs. You’ll feel proud about that, so way to go!
Dear 22-year-old me,
Your life is going to be really emotional for the next three years. You’re going to go on so many rollercoasters your head will spin, you’ll feel sick to your stomach, and you’ll feel crazy. 22 is supposed to be the fun year. That’s how Taylor Swift makes it sound, but she’s sort of wrong. I mean, 23 and 24 will be way worse, but 22 is the beginning. You’ll unexpectedly say goodbye to a couple of friendships at 22 and it’ll suck, but you’ll grow. 22 is the beginning of learning how to be okay with not being okay. I know you think you learned that at 18 and 20, but apparently not, cause girl, you’ve got a lot of learning to do. Just take a deep breath and get ready for the ride, because you’re gonna hate it but you’ll be stuck for quite a while.
Dear 23-year-old me,
You taught me patience. It’ll take you 8 months to move into your apartment and from there it will all hit the fan and you’ll run for cover. Except there won’t be anywhere to run, so you’ll kind of just… fall apart. Seriously, you’re going to find yourself sitting on the bathroom floor crying over a picture frame that won’t stay on the wall. That’ll be your tipping point. You’ll curse Eve for eating the apple, you’ll cry over that darn frame, then you’ll go sit in the living room eating fruity pebbles. You’ll laugh hysterically at yourself for being so pathetic and then you’ll cry several more times, because, well, life. You won’t break though. You’ll bend beyond your wildest imagination, but you won’t break, so I’m proud of you. Way to go! You never gave in to the pressure of all the pressure. Whoo!
Dear 24-year-old me,
You seriously quit your job. Then, you finally finished writing the Mask; Her Aid and published it! It’ll feel like the start of something new and beautiful, but it won’t be. You’ll find yourself crying a lot again. You’ll almost be evicted from your apartment. You and Savannah will fight so much and so intensely it’ll surprise you when you get along better after a few months. You’ll find joy in driving around making deliveries for food services, but it won’t pay enough. You’ll have to find a new job. Eventually, you’ll finally become a bus driver like Papa has recommended since you were 21. You’ll move in with the Mathers and studying to be a bus driver will be beyond stressful. How the heck did you end up working 2 jobs that involve driving? You hate driving! The Lord works in mysterious ways though.
Dear 25-year-old me,
Okay, so technically you’re still 25. Your birthday isn’t for another 4 days. That means 4 more days of falling or flying at 25. Anything can change in a matter of days, but let’s just pretend you’re 26, okay? 25 is going to be an interesting year for you. You thought 24 would break you again. A few times, you came so close to letting it. You even crashed and burned at the beginning of 2019 when you took on too much at one time. Seriously, you worked 12-hour shifts at Rhodes, Saturdays at the thrift store, and Sundays in youth. Are you crazy? If God needs rest, then so do you! Thankfully, this form of crashing and burning was only as bad as no longer doing youth or the thrift store. It could have been worse though. You thought it would be, but then you accepted the importance of rest. You took God up on His commandment of Sabbath. You won’t do anything on Saturdays and you’ll be okay with not always working between routes. You won’t use social media on Saturdays and you won’t obsess on Sundays. You’ll even take a social media break during the month leading up to 26. It’ll be weird, but you’ll use that time to “Live Fearless” and “…Be Brave.” You’ll also finally start working out every day. You do Zumba every morning, choreography a lot of afternoons, and concerts most evenings. It’ll be great! Best of all, you’ll learn to forgive. You’ll forgive those who have hurt you and you’ll learn to forgive yourself for hurting others. You’ll be obsessed with the Vampire Diaries and Victorious, and you’ll be friends with Shelby Gail again. Life will even be peaceful when you finally realize that accepting your anxiety and trust issues is the first step in overcoming them. I’m so proud of you for that! You’re sort of still in the process of all that going into 26, but you’ve already accomplished so much! Way to go!
And because you’re still you, you’ll ask your Shelby’s how you’ve changed since meeting them. Both will essentially say the same thing. You’re more confident and more willing to accept the unknown. So after all that mess of 16 to 26, you’ll actually be grateful for the crazy. It was hard and you’ll wish you can change things, but you never would even if you could. You learned so much in your teens and early 20’s that you’re really excited about the things you’ll learn in your late 20’s and early 30’s. Until the next decade, please keep calm and let God. Love you!
To anyone reading this. I hope you can learn to be brave and trusting. I hope you can accept your brokenness, repent from your sins–like my bitterness and anger–, and that you’ll trust God in the unknowns and comfort zones. Life is hard enough. We don’t need to add to it with perfectionism, fear, anger, bitterness, distrust, and all the other ickiness of brokenness and sin. From least to greatest: Love yourself. Love others. Love God.
P.S. It’s okay to be lame, so like… I hope you were able to read this letter to yourself with 2020 vision! 😉 😛 (I just cringed at my own poor “joke.” It’s so lame, but I couldn’t not do it. oh, well)