Sunday, June 26, 2011

Dear awkward, naive, sixteen-year-old self...

You know how you've always liked to write long, meaningful letters? Well, here's what one from the future looks like:

It's been quite a crazy and rewarding twelve years. You actually ended up where you hoped you would be: the wife to a wonderful, supportive, and faithful husband, and the mother to three fantastic children. It was all you ever wanted, really, since you could never put your finger on what you actually wanted to do with your life.

But even though you got what you wanted, be aware that you veered pretty far off the course to get there.

And you know what, past self? Though those certain obstacles and "bad" decisions in our life delayed the rewarding outcome, don't regret them. Because all our mistakes and life experiences--difficult and joyous--have made us who we are today. And we are pretty proud of that.

So, live life. Make the mistakes you will at one point regret. Because without them, you won't have a full understanding or appreciation for the Savior and His atonement. You won't have the life experience and character you now have. And you might not even have the open-minded view you now own.

One thing to look forward to: You realize you're pretty healthy after all, even after the Epstein Bar and depression episodes. You have a great immune system and can actually handle sleepless nights with a tinge of grace.

You love to run (imagine that), and you actually have your own sense of style. I know, that's hard to believe, isn't it? But you now know how to match, what styles do and don't fit your body type, and you only wear what makes you comfortable--not what you think you should wear.

Plus, there's a great show called What Not to Wear, from which you've learned a few helpful lessons.

Though you'll still have a hard time with it, you will learn how to say "no" to people and be slightly less of a pushover. Only slightly though. Maybe in twelve more years from now, forty-year old us will say it's not a problem at all.

You're not a singer, like you always wished you could be. In fact, your singing glory days were in high school, unfortunately. You haven't even sang in church in years, though you wish to. But you do still have that embedded passion for music. It still moves you in a way that nothing else can. Be proud of the fact that that's always been inside of you. In fact, don't feel embarrassed about any of the things that move you.

Despite your fears of what kind of a mother you'll be, especially because of your distaste for children, know that you will actually be a pretty great mom. There will be times when you won't feel like it, but you are. And you will love them without even trying. You'll love your kids, you'll actually know how to wear the mommy pants, and you'll be proud of it.

And you're proud to wear the wife pants, too. Sometimes they're old, dirty sweats (more times than we care to admit), and sometimes they're a little more appealing. Sexy even. I know, it's not a word in your vocabulary yet because you can't comprehend such an idea, but you will learn it's just one more thing that makes you, you.

Don't be afraid of intimacy, in any light.

And don't be afraid of sex. I know, you will blush when reading this because you aren't very open-minded about the idea, but that will change. There's nothing to fear. And it's actually pretty great.

Your husband loves you a great deal, and believe it or not, he finds you pretty desirable. He even claims he is the luckiest man in the world. And though you will not understand or believe him, take in his compliments.

Oh, and enjoy your smooth stomach while you have it. Because one day, after children, there will be nothing there but saggy, stretch-marked skin. But you will also be grateful because of what those scars have earned you. Your children are your life. And though they take on some of the traits you hate in yourself, you love it in them.

You will learn how to cook. Don't be so afraid of it. Your husband will give you all the pointers for a good foundation when you get married, and from there, you'll teach yourself. And half the time, you'll actually be quite decent at it.

Now, here's something you might not want to hear: you are still strangely proportioned, physically awkward, and uncoordinated. I know you hoped and daydreamed of one day growing into your long arms and legs, and maybe even getting better hair and a longer neck. But it doesn't happen.

In fact, sometimes you will feel even more uncoordinated than you once were. And you'll blame that on the beautiful children. You will hear this a lot in life, but it's true: pregnancy and raising children makes you scatter-brained.

Did I mention you have amazing, beautiful, strong-spirited children? Three boys, who will drive you nuts but make you feel like the most important, blessed girl on the planet. And that list you made with all the qualities you want in a future husband? You got them.

Well, all of them except the height. You don't marry someone tall. Sorry.

But his strengths will more than make up for it. He will see in you what you will still be struggling to see in yourself years down the road. And you are still very in love three children and eight years of marriage later.

So don't fret so much over the boy who broke your heart. No, he is not your future husband. No, you don't really love him. Yes, you will be happily married one day. And no, the cares and stresses you are experiencing now are not the most dire problems you will ever experience.

Don't worry so much about what other people think, please. The girls with Abercrombie & Fitch plastered to their perfect bodies don't know crap about what makes a girl special.

But you do. You know your divine heritage, and that you are a special, beautiful daughter of God. You know this. So please remember it, and let it fill you with confidence. Enjoy yourself and stop worry about the little things!

Oh...and pay better attention in math. We both know it's not our strong suit, but that doesn't mean you don't have to try.

And, confused, self-conscious girl: you will find your passion someday. You might not find it until later in life, after you've had your first child, but be aware of it. Recognize that your love for literature, English, poetry, and art stems from your destined purpose to write.

Yes, you are a writer. And it will be hard for you to call yourself that sometimes, because feeling inadequate is what you're best at, but you are a writer. Even without a degree, awards, or published work. Finally, you will find something you're good at, something that makes you feel special and passionate.

And thanks in partial to something called "blogging," you will be able to let your voice be heard. You will be able to pour your heart out and say what you really mean. You will find just who you are.

You have a lot to look forward to. Soak up every memorable moment in your life. Soak up the love that comes your way, and learn what you can from the hatred. You will be proud of who you become. You will realize one day that you wouldn't trade a thing in your life. And you will find yourself thanking God everyday for the path He's put you on and the people He's blessed you with in your life.

The things your future self is most proud of:

  • The beautiful creations that are your children
  • A happy, healthy family life
  • You've written three novels
  • You gave childbirth naturally (with no pain medication) to two of your children and now feel like you can accomplish anything as a woman

Lastly, love yourself. I can't say it enough. Love yourself even when all you can do is hate yourself, because you will need all the practice you can get for later in life, when you realize you never really did. So throw me a bone, sixteen-year-old me, and just love yourself.

Slightly-less-self-conscious, twenty-eight-year-old me

*Post inspired by the Lightning and the Lightning Bug Flicker of Inspiration prompt, "A Letter to You."

Write a letter to yourself at age sixteen. What might you tell your sixteen year-old self? Would you warn yourself not to make a certain mistake? Would you ask yourself to treasure being young? Would you tell yourself how much you've changed?


Katie @ Chicken Noodle Gravy said...

Such a lovely letter!! So joyous and happy. And your three boys are absolutely adorable!

My favorite part of the letter has to be the part about writing...I can relate to your words SO well.

"Yes, you are a writer. And it will be hard for you to call yourself that sometimes, because feeling inadequate is what you're best at, but you are a writer. Even without a degree, awards, or published work. Finally, you will find something you're good at, something that makes you feel special and passionate."

I think we all struggle with calling ourselves writers, but I agree completely, you ARE a writer. And AWESOME job completing three novels! I'm still working on just one. :)

Thanks for linking up with The Lightning and the Lightning Bug today!

~Becky~ said...

Love it! When you talk about not regretting, it reminds me of a picture I found while surfing the internet one day (I'll tag you in it, it's on FB).

It says, "Never regret anything because at one time it was exactly what you wanted."

I've always loved that quote. It makes me understand my life in such a better way.

Jen said...

Dude!! Natural child-birth...twice??! With no pain meds! That is awesome! And so is this letter! Keep it and use it as a reminder of your awesomeness. :)

Anonymous said...

I love this and your encouragement not to regret mistakes. Without them, who would we be? Would we be sitting here now appreciating the beauty that has been handed to us?

Your family is beautiful and those Abercrombie wearing girls are probably still trying to figure themselves out...or they're fat now. Either way...

Dwija {House Unseen} said...

I love your encouraging, supportive tone. It is obvious that you are a wonderful mother! Just look at how firm and loving and uplifting you were to your 16 year old self! Beautiful writing and beautiful family :)

*virtual fist bump for the childbirth au natural, my sistah ;)*

~Becky~ said...

Thanks for the inspiration, I just wrote one up on my blog! :)

Anonymous said...

THIS LETTER WAS WONDERFUL! Absolutely loved it!! I think you should still make time for music. IF you're anything like me, it'll always be a part of you, and you'll need to feed it. The music monster is a STELLAR paracite! haha :) Find a coffee house, small hall, band, choir, something...don't let him die! YOU'VE STILL GOT IT! He never leaves. Proud to be following!!

Blessings, Kisses & Coladas From Jems From Jenny XOXO

Jackie said...

What a great post! I love how you began by telling yourself to make mistakes. Kudos to the drug free birth times two and I agree, it is hard to call oneself a writer. I think you have earned that title.

Jessica said...

WOW!! This was amazing Jen! You are a wonderful writer. You can say things so well in writing that I wish I could. Pretty sure this letter to 16 year old you is exactly what I needed right now. I'm also fairly certain that I cry at every blog post you write. Yes, you're that good! Love you!