Here I am. Two full days into my twenty-sixth year. I always get a little weird around my birthday. I think everyone does. All self reflective and everything. I think it’s healthy to be that way from time to time, taking a few minutes to reevaluate who we are and what we want from life. Anyhoo, I was cleaning out my inbox at work the other day, and came across an email that my friend Maria sent me months ago. It was a link to a letter a woman had written to her former self, which got me thinking. TEN years ago I turned sweet sixteen. What a crazy time in life. I remember feeling so grown up, but looking back I was just a child. So here I am a decade later, now with a liiiiiiiiitle more life experience. If I had a chance to send a letter back in time, what would I say? If you had the chance to talk to your former self, what would YOU say?
Hey, its me! Future Meghan. Ten years have flown by since
I guess I’ll start by dropping a bombshell. Unfortunately in ten years, you will not be married to Ashley Parker Angel from O-town. You actually won’t be married at all, or anywhere near it. You also won’t be wearing fancy business suits every day, driving a convertible, or owning a home in a nice development like you are probably expecting. Oh, and when you hear people make jokes about Philadelphia and how dirty and dangerous it is, well don’t laugh, because you’re going to live there some day. And it’s really not as bad as they say ; )
I know that you’re really excited about finally getting your driver’s license. It’s a pretty big milestone in life, but I have some bad news. You really aren’t a very good driver. Nobody likes to hear that, but it’s true, so I think you should know. You’ll have a couple fender benders and a car totaling accident over the next decade, so just… be careful… ok?
I also want to give you a heads up now that nobody is going to invite you to your high school prom. It is going to feel like the end of the world, but trust me when I say that it’s not. I guess I should also let you know now that you aren’t going to have a boy ask you on a date or try and kiss you for quite awhile still. Understandably, it’s going to make you feel weird and embarrassed, but don’t sweat it. There are plenty of boys and dances and first kisses in your future. Unfortunately, the awkwardness and embarrassment… well those are far from over.
You’re pretty sheltered right now, happily living in your little bubble, sort of obliviousness to the ways of the world. Stay that way for as long as possible. You can never get your innocence back, and there is more than enough temptation in your future. Some days you will hold fast to your values, but there will be other seasons where you start to lose sight of who you are. That’s ok. Forgive yourself. Learn from your mistakes. And try to be a better person tomorrow.
Continue to do well in school, but stop stressing about it so much. Here’s a hint: you’re never going to use calculus, advanced biology or any bit of chemistry in your real life. Oh and don’t even bother writing in cursive, nobody does that anymore. Drop your French classes now, and start learning Spanish. Trust me, you’ll thank me later. Then go home and throw out that ugly silver eye shadow you like to wear, as well as your super low rise jeans, but save all of your brightly colored pants because those will keep coming back into style. Never ever ever stop running. You think you love it now, but just wait and see what the next ten years will bring.
Go to church. Right now Mom and Dad make you go, but soon enough the choice will be yours. When you move to a new city, make it a priority to find a church to call home. When you’re out til 2 AM on Saturday night, still make yourself get out of bed and go to church on Sunday morning. Even during the portions of your life when you are questioning your faith, go to church. It’s important to keep your roots planted in familiar soil, especially during periods of indecision.
Be kind. Be loving. Have a joyful heart and an optimistic outlook on life. Trust your instincts. When you are seeking answers, pray. Be generous with your time and your money. Travel as much as you possibly can. Try new things and soak up every experience that life offers you. Remember that the little moments many times turn out to be more meaningful than the big ones. Don’t become jaded by negativity and try to not let bitterness bring you down. Surround yourself with people who bring out the best in you and make a conscience effort to continually show others best version of yourself. Make a decision now about the way you want to be treated for the rest of your life, and start expecting others to respect you.
Remember that it is more important to be known as a nice person than the girl with a pretty face. It is more important to be honest than it is to be successful. It is more important to have a lot of good friends than a lot of ex-boyfriends. Above all else it is more important to be the person that God is calling you to be rather than the person that the world is calling you to be.
And all those things you’ve been wondering about… what you want to be when you grow up; who, when, and if you’ll get married; where you’ll choose to settle down. I’d love to tell you that ten years from now, you’ll have answers to all those big questions, but unfortunately that’d be a lie. What I can promise you though is that, clique as it may sound, the journey really is more meaningful than the destination. At some point (not that I’m there quite yet) I think you just learn to give up and trust that God’s plan for your life is far more magnificent than anything you may try and map out on your own. You have so many adventures, so many new friends, and so much joy in your future. So stop stressing, stop trying to sort it all out, and just live in the moment. After all, you’re only
twenty-six sixteen once.
Whatever you do, just keep smiling : )
PS: If thirty-six year old Meghan would like to send a letter telling me to stop quarter life crisising because everything is going to work out according to plan…. well, that would be great. A girl can use some reassurance from time to time ; )