Dear hurting child, I remember your first two decades vividly; I experience them even now. You feel such deep sadness and outrageous anger, and you don’t know what to do with those feelings because the person who evokes them is too big for you to yell at or kick or do all those things you imagine yourself doing. So you’ve gotten good at distancing yourself from him, and from others who want to be near you because it’s too much work being happy for them all the time.
Dear 16-year-old dreamer, I know you have a burning desire in your heart to do great things. God put that inside of you. He wants you to pursue your vision, but you will find that it will cost you. Failures, disappointments, and opposition will cause you to doubt and question your life purpose. Some people that are closest to you will think you’re crazy and foolish. You have so many challenges ahead of you, and you will be tempted to give up countless times.
Dear 20-year-old confrontation-avoiding Jeannie, Newly married in August after finishing in June the wonderful art college that God had provided for you, and suddenly teaching high school fine arts in September gives you a huge responsibility. You need to appropriately instruct and deal with kids just 2 and 3 years younger than you, as well as interact with faculty and administration as if they are your peers! It’s an emotional stretch.
Dear 18-year-old wild child, I know you don’t want to listen to any advice and think you’ve got everything figured out, but let me have just a moment of your attention. Life will be much better if you focus less on guys, and more on goals and accomplishments. You are worth FAR more than you allow credit for, and are capable of AMAZING things! Focus on school rather than guys, and you will accomplish things much more quickly and with far less heartache.
Dear incoming grad school student Jessy, First of all, I know how closed you are to advice, especially any that comes from someone who approaches you with an attitude of, “I’m older, so I know.” It seems condescending, and I will strive to avoid that here. You’re busy. So very very very busy. And you’re going to crash…eventually. If you start now, though, you can build a support system who will surround you and encourage you so you don’t break apart upon impact.
Dear freshly-broken-up-with teenage me, It hurts to write this letter. Even decades later, I can still feel the pangs of loneliness that blindside you/me as the guy you thought was your forever love distances himself further and further. And, truth be known, it’s a bit embarrassing now to think of how you/I acted throughout this breakup. Desperation is a powerful motivator and an awful dictator. Let me start by reassuring you that you do meet your real forever love.