What if you could write a letter to your younger self? What would you say? Would it be witty, wise, or warning? I loved the idea when Angela at Becoming Me said she was going to do it, and since she encouraged us to join in I thought I would give it a try. Would I actually change anything if I could? I don't know. Part of me knows my past has shaped me into who I am, but I can't say there aren't decisions I would change. So, if I could write a letter...
Dear 20 year old Loretta,
Yes, it's me again, coming to you live from your future. First of all, let me just say that there is this really nifty thing called the internet, and you will not believe how small computers have gotten. You will also be happy to know that the floppy disks that ate your U.S. History project the day before it was due (the one you spent all semester on) only to magically resurrect it two semesters later are themselves historical artifacts now. And surprise, surprise, despite struggling to learn how to use the word processing program, ten years from now you are going to be really adept with computers and you are even going to learn the basics of several programming languages. Yes, you are.
So, that's the good news.
The bad news is, things are going to get rocky over the next number of years. It is going to feel very dark, but in your darkest times the seeds of grace are going to be planted. It will take time for them to sprout and grow, but I can promise you that they will.
Learn who your friends are. Understand that people sometimes make mistakes when they are trying to help. Learn to recognize the difference between someone who is concerned for you and someone who wants to use you. You are going to want to push away those who are trying to help you, while turning to those who don't have your best interests at heart. Be careful, friendships are sometimes fragile and easily broken, and once broken you lose that support. The good news is that you will emerge with one friendship still intact, and 20 years from now she will still be your best friend.
Learn about depression and the warning signs, and then don't ignore them. You will save yourself a lot of heartache if you do. (But you won't...just know that down the road a lot of what you are feeling will make sense.) You are going to make decisions out of this that you will regret. Just remember that God is faithful even when we aren't. You may feel that you've ended your life by dropping out in your last semester, but God has a plan for that path, and it will end (or begin?) with finding the love of your life. Yes, you WILL eventually find him!
God is near. Always remember that. God is near. Nothing you do will send him away from you. His grace covers everything. Everything.
Don't let other people define you. Don't let them tell you that they know you better than you know yourself.
When your best friend gets ready to move out of state you are going to feel like you hate her, you are going to think that you are glad she is going, and you are going to feel guilty for feeling that. It's all a cover-up to keep yourself from hurting because you think you're losing her; try to realize that a little sooner than before you are sobbing as she drives away. And then see above about just how long-lasting that friendship is really going to be.
I said it five years ago and I will say it again, you are stronger than you think you are. You will realize that eventually. There will come a day when you stand up and say 'no'. You just have to believe that you are worth standing up for.
Live your own life, not the lives of those you envy. God has given you your own unique style, your own personality and your own gifts. Trying to put on someone else's is only going to make you miserable.
Climb Massanutten peak; you're going to regret it if you move away without doing it.
PLEASE stop writing that awful, emo poetry. You are better than that and you are never going to show it to anyone anyhow. Hang onto the dream of writing, though. It's going to come in useful one day.
Don't get your heart set on guys who barely realize you are alive. The number of dates you have been on is no indication of your future love life. In fact, you are going to end up marrying the first guy to ask you out more than once. (Well, actually you are going to end up working for the first guy to ask you out more than once, and you are going to thank your lucky stars you were smart enough to turn him down for the second date, although you are going to eat your words about accountants being boring by becoming one yourself.) Hang in there, God has the most amazing man in store for you.
Remember the words of Jeremiah 29:11. God has a plan for you, he WILL give you hope and he WILL give you a future. Hang on to that promise. His heart will ache for every hurt you feel, his grace will be there waiting to catch you when you fall.
With love and pain, your older self.