Resources for the Intentional Parent

A Letter to My Teenage Self

Hi friend,

It’s me, you in 20 years. Don’t worry, life turns out well for you. It’s nothing like you thought it would be, but it’s better than you could’ve imagined. Get ready for a good ride. There will be bumps, losses, victories, and heartbreak, but the love, joy, and character you will build along the way will be worth every tear.

You will find love. Honest to goodness true love. The hours you have spend pouring over your MySpace profile, online chatting, and learning to make your lashes look lengthy and your waist look narrow won’t lead you to love. It will be found as you walk the halls of your college dorm, as you volunteer for things that you don’t yet know will stir your soul. It will be found in the man you marry and the two children you raise – even though I know you are pretty sure you don’t want a husband and certainly not kids. This love will be found in the doing, not in the consuming.

You will learn that life has a way of breaking through the person you attempt to be and it will reveal who you were created to be. So, don’t be afraid to be different; not different like everyone else, but completely you. There will be people who want you to look, act, and believe a certain way, but in those quiet moments you know who you are. Just admit it. You like uncool music, your hair is unruly, you can be sustained by chips and salsa, and you’d rather stay home than go to a party. Those things make you, you. Embrace your weird, your shy, your quiet, your loud laugh, your compassionate, weepy soul. Those things will lead you well.

Quit trying to escape. One of your default tactics is escapism. You will try to escape through boys, friends, alcohol, television – basically any place you can run to – in your mind or in a physical location – you will. As you grow older the escape options will change –you’ll be able to disappear into your phone, easily access pornography, or bury yourself in your career. Stick with the old D.A.R.E. motto : “Just say No”. Challenges are a fact of life. Face them, like a boss. You’ll be a better woman for it.

You’re going to get hurt, but the wounds you receive will not end you. In fact, see a therapist, learn from the good and the bad, grieve your hurts, and share your story. CS Lewis wrote: “Friendship is born at the moment when one man says to another "What! You too? I thought that no one but myself.”. Vunerability and authenticity, face to face, with a real person instead of an avatar, will bring you sisters in your darkest days. You will find that these shared stories will become a special kind of glue that holds fast relationships with some of the most amazing people you will ever meet. You are an overcomer. Press on.

As you wonder what to do with your life, consider the words of Frederick Buechner: "The place God calls you to is the place where your deep gladness and the world’s deep hunger meet.” Find what stirs your heart and pursue it. To do this, you will have to keep your focus. Go to class, read a book, volunteer. Don’t get caught up in the timewasters (TV, gaming, things called Facebook and Pinterest) or the idea that you can do it all. You can’t. People will give you lots of opportunity to say yes – don’t take them all. Do what you know you need to do, what you want to do and tell everyone else “no”. No, is a complete sentence. Use it as one. When you find the freedom of “no”, you will find the balance your life needs.

I promise, this launching into adulthood you are about to experience is a wild ride, but it’s a good one. Keep your eyes peeled for the red headed cutie that lives on the second floor. He’s a keeper. Laugh with your wild and crazy dorm mates, but listen to the warning bells that go off when the fun crosses over into danger-zone. Your frontal lobe is still not completely developed, not until you are around 25 , try not to damage it before you get there. Don’t be afraid of hard work, people that challenge you, or strange smelling cheeses. You will see the city, the mountains, and the bottom of your bank account. You are loved more than you will ever understand and you can always go home. Enjoy the journey, dear girl. Enjoy the journey.

By Jesica Swanson, Kudoso Kontributor