This week is my 39th birthday! I don’t know if it’s having the last birthday in my thirties and that I’m officially arriving at middle age, or maybe it’s watching my eldest son go through some of the same tough emotional things that I struggled with in my youth, whatever the reason it’s been a season of reflection.
There are some things that haven’t worked out so well, some extremely trying times, sadness, and heartache. I’ve made my share of mistakes over the years, but I can’t say that I really have any regrets. I’ve equally had great times, laughs, amazing friendships, love, success, and many other blessings. It’s true what they say, the bad times really make you appreciate the good times! What’s important is that you keep believing in yourself, pick yourself up and keep moving forward, always learning from your experiences.
I thought it might be fun to write a little letter to my younger self. Maybe it will strike a chord with others out there, maybe there will be a little something that you can share with your youngsters, maybe it will even have some positive or reassuring impact on my kids. So, here we go!
Dear Precious Child,
Let me start out by saying, you’re going to be alright! I know you have days, maybe even several days strung together, where you doubt yourself, your worth, if anyone truly loves you, your skills, and your decisions. Hang in there, keep your chin up, you’re special and it will all work out!
You’ll have those days when it seems like nothing goes your way. School was hard, you’re not really understanding how to do the assignments, you’re arguing with your siblings, your parents seem upset at you, there may be chaos at home, and you just wish you could catch a break. You feel like you want to curl up in a ball and hide out in your room under the covers of your bed. Tears burn your eyes, but you don’t really know what to do.
Sweet Child, we all have strengths and weaknesses. So, maybe history isn’t your strong suit, but you know you’re a wiz with numbers and you love to write. Do your best at those things that don’t come easily, don’t be afraid to fail, keep trying, it’s okay. Know that those things that do come easily will end up serving you well. As you grow older and move on into college, you’ll be able to pick courses that are more suited for you. Then one day you will have an ah-ha moment where you realize how to make those things you’re good at into a career. You’re smart, enjoy the learning journey, and don’t put so much pressure on yourself.
Siblings, let’s just say that anyone who is an oldest child understands how annoying little brothers or sisters can be. Especially when we are younger and they look up to you so much. They want to do all of the things you do and be into all of your stuff because they want to be just like you. They are seeking your approval and want to be in your inner circle, after all you’re so cool! Try to have some patience. The bond you have is special and believe it or not, one day you will grow past this awkward stage and they will be one of your closest friends. They understand things about how you grew up that others may never fully comprehend. You’ll have memories and fights that you’ll look back on and laugh. I know it’s hard now, but one day you’ll be so thankful for your siblings.
It’s hard to understand when you’re young, but your parents are honestly just two people doing the best they can to raise you. There was no handbook provided to them when you were born that tells them how to do it, they are figuring it out as they go. Just like you’re figuring life out as you go. Life is a continual learning process. Here’s the bottom line, no matter how it seems in the moment, whether they are happy or angry, they LOVE you. Your parents are so proud to call you theirs. They are your biggest fans, your biggest critics, your biggest support system, your biggest gateway to adulthood. They are spending countless hours worrying about you, trying to help you, feeding and clothing you, working extra hours to give you things and provide for you, and they want nothing more than to turn you into a responsible, kind, and successful adult. Their entire mission in life, after becoming a parent, is to take care of you and turn you out into the world fully prepared to conquer anything that comes your way!
There are times when you’re younger when it seems like your parents will be around forever, it’s like they are superhuman in some way and will always be there. As you grow older, you’ll realize they aren’t superhuman after all. They won’t be around forever. So it’s your job to make the most of the time that you have with them. All of those calls from your mom just to check in, all of those quiet moments just hanging out with your dad, and those fun family dinners and trips; soak them up, time is fleeting.
If you think the chaos at home can sometimes be overwhelming, just wait until you’re out in the real world on your own. You’ll be trying to balance a job, maybe continuing your education, possibly a parent yourself, giving time to friends, family, and your romantic interest. All the while you’re keeping your house clean, groceries stocked, gas in your car, and laundry done. Good luck! It’s tough to be an adult, but you’ll do fine.
Speaking of being an adult, you have only so many years to be a child or teenager, so go ahead and be a child or teenager. Don’t be in a big yank to be an adult. Let yourself be young, carefree, have fun, experience new things, live fearlessly. The day will come soon enough that you are truly an adult. With that comes lots of responsibility and you’ll have to do things you don’t necessarily want to do, but have to do. That doesn’t mean you can’t have fun, experience more new things, and live fearlessly, but with responsibility comes choices. Sometimes you’ll have to face decision and consequences that are much tougher than when you’re young. So, lean on your parents and family, embrace being young, live each day to the fullest, run, play, laugh, and enjoy. That’s what being a kid is all about! You have plenty of years to be grown up.
One last topic, love. You are amazing. You have so many special talents and beautiful characteristics. You’re smart, funny, and great to be around. You’re charismatic and people will naturally want to be near you. Always know that you are worth so much and that you deserve people in your life who know your worth. People who respect and appreciate who you are. Do not fall into the trap of thinking you’re not worthy of someone or something. Do not let those who are insecure about themselves drag you down. Keep your chin up and always know that you deserve love and the very best from people that the world has to offer. Don’t settle for less. If someone is cruel or treats you poorly, they don’t deserve a place in your life!
Cherished Child, life will be tough sometimes, but it’s worth it. You’ve got this, you’re going places, and everything is going to work out just fine! Enjoy the ride.