An open letter to my fifteen-year-old self.
Let's start with the bad news, shall we?
First of all, you're not as special as you think you are. Don't get me wrong, you certainly ARE special, but not in the ways that you think. In a few years, you'll see that those looks you're feeling so good about are not all they're cracked up to be in your mind or from the mouths of boys who have no business complimenting you on them anyway. Boys will say anything, you know. At first this realization will crush you, but over time, you'll grow to be perfectly fine with looking completely ordinary. One day, you'll rather be known for having an exceptional mind instead of an exceptional body. The way you look is not an achievement and any moderate good looks you may be blessed with are thanks to your parents.
Stop this obsessive compulsive, border-line eating disorder diet plan. You don't have a problem with your weight and you still won't twelve years from now, even after three kids. (Yes, one day you'll have three kids, so nap now.) This anxiety you're feeling has nothing to do with food and everything to do with performance-based insecurity. Don't be dramatic. You're fortunate, so eat the pizza already and exercise in moderation.
There is no romantic relationship in the world worth sacrificing your life and self-respect. Ignore the books and movies and songs. These are the creation of an industry that feeds on your under-developed brain's struggle to make judgement calls based on truth as opposed to feelings. Trust and believe, your brain is absolutely incapable of knowing better than your parents. It's not your fault, it's biology and you still have seven or eight year before you are working with all the right neurons firing, so take a seat, Feisty Pants.
Pick girlfriends over boys every time because one day only one boy will matter and you'll be wishing you still had those girlfriends around. And while we're on the subject, pick good friends. Smart ones. Responsible ones. Guilt by association is a real thing. (Don't worry, you aren't going to get arrested or into to drugs or alcohol or anything. I'm just saying.)
Pay attention to those little stirrings inside you. Like the time, two years ago, when you, out of the blue and quite out of character, decided to read a book about educating special needs kids. Or even now, how when you graduate this year, you're considering pursuing music therapy for disabled children as a major. These are not random whims, but tiny seeds that have been planted in your heart. You're going to be shocked at how all these pieces twine together.
Take all your talents very seriously. That violin you're so good at playing, but barely deign to practice... Don't waste it. That extension that makes for one killer arabesque won't be around forever so enjoy it (though it will always make you pretty good at yoga, so don't despair). Pursue your crafts with a vengeance. You know that verse from Proverbs by heart, "Do you see a man skilled in his work? He will serve before kings. He will not serve before obscure men." Take that seriously. Master something.
Along those lines, don't measure your self-worth by your looks or your talents or your education, because it has nothing to do with those things and everything to do with who your Creator says you are. If you measure yourself by others or your own standards, you will always come up wanting, propelled into a frenzy of searching for self-worth. Don't worry, you'll get it. Not perfectly, mind you, at least not that I've yet seen, but enough to release you from anxiety and comparison. And even when you're standing in the middle of a fire your fifteen-year-old self can't even begin to fathom, you'll stand firm in your worth as His child. You'll learn to run, even when it hurts, with no worry about what others are doing, saying, possessing. You won't want to trade lives with anyone because you'll know you are specially, uniquely equipped to smash through any wall that blocks your way. And smash, you will. You will be the head and not the tail. You will bloom in adversity and do your best work under pressure. Do not despise the fire, for there's a fire in your soul that burns hotter and more fiercely than any that will leap up around you.
Take heart, little one. You will make mistakes, lots and lots of mistakes. You're making mistakes right now, ones that will mark you for years to come. Some pain you will experience, you'll bring on yourself and you'll deserve a lot of the rejection that's coming. Don't be offended. Accept your consequences and always take responsibility, but don't carry responsibility that's not yours. For years you'll be an easy target, and people will pile on their judgement and condemnation, but it doesn't matter because the proof of real life change is ALWAYS in the fruit. And anyway, God is the great Vindicator and He is not mocked, for whatever a man sows that he will also reap. Be mindful of what you sow and trust Him for the harvest. And never forget- justice lies in the hands of the Lord. He is your Defender.
It's going to be okay. You will want to die at times, but you won't. Trust your gut. If you think he's no good for you, he probably isn't. If he says he doesn't like kids, believe him. Pay attention to the nice guys, the ones who really care. The ones with character over charm, substance over flash. You tend to overlook them.
Always tithe. Value hard work over talent. Be generous. Forgive easily. Be hard to offend.
There are far, far better things up ahead than any we leave behind. - C.S. Lewis
Your older, somewhat wiser self