Episode 72: 17 Again: The Things We Wish We Could Tell Our Teenage Selves
June is the month of graduations, which always makes us nostalgic. It feels like just yesterday we were a couple of 18 year olds walking across that stage in our caps and gowns, waiting for all the adventure life had in store for us beyond Keller, TX. Now, almost 10 years later, we've learned a thing or two that we wish we could go back in time and tell ourselves. From the thoughtful to the trivial, this week we're taking a trip down memory lane as we visit all the things we wish we could tell our teenage selves.
A letter we wish we could read to ourselves at 17:
Hey girl (yeah, you still talk like this at 27 years old),
I know life as an angsty teenager is tough. What, with the whole no responsibilities thing and all. No, but really, this stage in your life is full of uncertainties and choices that feel big and huge and important- and some of them are. It's hard to consider a life outside of your area code, but guess what sister, there's a big ole huge world out there that you're about to experience. When you leave this tiny bubble you'll have the chance to meet and befriend people who look and believe differently than you. Take those opportunities. Embrace those people. The world expands beyond your hometown and you can grow and learn and have new experiences while still holding true to your values. You may be living that out in a different city or state than you thought, but it's okay to expand your horizons.
It's also okay to grow and evolve. Just because you're the shy quiet girl now doesn't mean that's who you have to be forever. While college is a great time to change and come into your own, you don't have to wait to be yourself. Embrace who you are and live it out with confidence. Also, embrace your body. Hate to tell ya, but even in 2018 there's no magical surgery to give you longer legs or shrink your shoulders. The body you have now is the body you'll have your whole life. Rather than spending years trying to fight how your were made, embrace and love yourself. Sure, you can and should make some healthy changes (you'll eventually grow to have a deep appreciation for a well made salad and won't be able to down those chocolate chip cookies for lunch every day), but when it comes down to it, your body is what your body is and instead of trying to fight it, just cooperate with it.
Speaking of ways to work with your body, maybe don't wear those double layered Old Navy tanks and boot cut jeans or that perfectly matching t-shirt and jewelry that you think looks SOO CUTE. I know you think that makes the perfect "first day of high school" outfit, but you will look back at old year book pictures and want to give yourself a hug and a new wardrobe. Also, you may think that no one is really paying attention to how you look or carry yourself, but lo and behold, your future husband may be roaming those high school halls with you so it wouldn't hurt to brush your hair. Or get involved with some school functions, because maybe you could start dating while you live down the street from each other rather than waiting until you end up at two different colleges in another state. Just a thought.
The point is, you just never know. The person you end up with could be in the next classroom over or at another school an hour away, but the one thing you can count on is you'll be very surprised by who he is. I know you have your heart set on the youth band guitar player with the dreamy hair swoop, but you'll actually fall in love with and mother the child of a green eyed outdoorsman who insists on catching all the fish you eat or hunting all the birds you cook. Prepare to be surprised, sister.
But while the men and your life will surprise you, the most consistent thing you can count on are your girlfriends. I know at times it feels less than glamorous to hang out with the same 3 or 4 girls all the time, but in ten years, those girls will still be your very best friends. You'll even host a weekly podcast with one (don't even ask what a podcast is, you'll learn). You might lament the fact that you aren't the girl who can walk into a room and make acquaintances everywhere you go, but you are the girl who knows how to invest in and sustain friendships and that is so very valuable.
What's also valuable are the lessons in frugality your parents are instilling in you. I know you don't always appreciate driving around town in a 2000 Toyota Celica or a 1999 Chevy Malibu, but that car will make you appreciate every car you drive from here on out. The day you get a car with power locks you will feel like you have ARRIVED. You'll also be able to look back on all those fun times when you had to fill it up with oil every time you took a long drive or jump it every time you needed to go to Walgreens and laugh. But honestly, living costs more than you think it does. Air conditioning doesn't pay for itself. Car insurance doesn't grow on trees. Life is expensive and your parents are super kind to pay for you to live the life you do. Try not to have a heart attack when you get your first pay check and call your dad and ask "but why do they take out so much money for taxes?????"
All of this to say, in your teens you have just a sliver of a view of how your life will play out. And that's only natural because you haven't had the chance to experience all that life has to offer. Some things in your future are pretty painful and will make you long for the simpler times of your youth. But overall, when you look back on how your life has played out, you'll see God's faithfulness and provision over every season of your life. You'll see how this experience led you to that one and how if that door hadn't have shut, this one wouldn't have opened. Not every single event will make sense, but the one thing you can take comfort in is the fact that God was there with you. In the midst of it all, He was there. And no matter where you end up, if it's back in your home town, or across state lines, or even across the world, the same God who was with you at 17 is with you even still.
Enjoy this time and soak up every moment instead of feeling anxious about how the future will pan out. Maybe spend less time worrying and more time figuring out what to do with those bangs you let your mom cut...