Dear 10-year-old self,
Hi there. It’s me. You. I've been challenged to write a letter to my ten-year-old self, so here I am. And here you are. And this is what we do. And here is what I know:
You’re going to be an awkward kid. Bad bangs, weird last name, more sensitive than most. You’ll soon be plucked from a place you love, and thrust into the alien north where you’ll be the only one sporting cowgirl boots and a seriously heavy accent. While the other students spend half the year making fun of the way you pronounce “pen,” you’ll spend it trying to convince yourself they’re just really into school supplies as you seek refuge between the covers of cherished books.
You’re going to be tall your whole dang life. Pants are never going to fit you quite right, so you might as well start getting used to it now. Whatever you do, don’t shrink away from who you are or shrink away from opportunity. Promise you’ll always remember that any person who asks you to be less than you are is no one you want in your heart or your life. (And just so you know, on that fateful Halloween a year or so from now, when that old lady accuses you of being “too old to trick-or-treat” just because you’re the tallest of your friends, you’ve got my support. Go ahead and flip her the bird, because you’re really going to want to do it.)
The 90s will be chock full of life lessons. (And you’ll get to relive them all over again when the 90s become retro-cool sometime in the 2010s.) What it really comes down to is this: Lunchables are horrible. No matter how deprived you may feel at the moment, you’re really not missing out. Stock up on Clearly Canadian, though, because it’s set to go extinct. And Britney and Christina from the Mickey Mouse Club? You’ll be hearing from them again.
I’m not gonna lie. Things are going to get rocky in junior high. Puberty is going to be a train wreck. Growing boobs will traumatize you. Starting your period will traumatize you. Changing for gym class will traumatize you. Being asked to dance will traumatize you. (Believe it or not, you'll turn down an invitation at the seventh grade dance, and residual feelings of lingering guilt will bubble up any time Toni Braxton comes on the radio throughout the duration of your adult life.)
High school will be fun. You should try harder in your classes than you will, but you’re going to learn way too early that you can do just fine with minimal effort, which will free you up to focus on fun. (And that’s something you’ll never regret.) Everything – and I do mean everything – with your friends is going to feel like the center of and end of the world. Zero percent of it will matter in the long run. But those friends are still your friends today.
Little self, stand up. Stand up for yourself. Stand for something. Take a stand. You’ve got opinions and a voice – use them at your discretion and to your detriment.
Don’t ever miss a chance to take a midnight swim or splash in the ocean. The universe doesn’t care how you look in a swimsuit, and you shouldn’t miss a single opportunity to revel in creation and all His glory.
Say yes more than you say no. Accept the invitations that come your way as often as you can. A decade from now, you’ll look back and long for just one more country drive, one more night at the park, one more conversation, one more night at Burnham, one more Italian soda at Maxwell’s. When it’s gone, it’s gone. Wring every last drop you can from your marvelous existence.
You’ll be bad at being bad – and that’s never going to change. The things (and parents) you’re going to push against will keep you out of so much trouble. And you’ll be so grateful for that one day. Trust me.
Sometime around 1998 your friends are going to take a lunchtime vote. They’ll decide you’re going to be the first to marry because you’re that much of a romantic. They couldn't be more wrong. You’ll still be holding out at 33 – because you’re that much of a romantic. Stay hopeful. Stay patient.
Spend less time writing code names for boys in secret notebooks. Spend more time telling them how you really feel. Be vulnerable. Be brave. I know it's scary.
That DIY dye job the day before senior pictures? It's a bad idea that’s going to make a great story.
No matter what anyone tells you, a Manhattan isn’t a good starter drink. But that’s a lesson you’re going to have to learn the hard way.
Take sensory snapshots and file them away, because change is coming and it’s just a couple years away. Memorize the beauty of red dirt, the song of cicadas and the smell of mesquite trees on a hot Texas day. Soak up the sun from your little world of inner tubes, sunscreen and chlorine. You won’t want to go, but you’ll know you can’t say. And one day you’ll look back to realize your first love wasn’t a person – but a place.
Eventually you’re going to begin to realize you hit the family jackpot. The years and the miles will try to pull the ties that bind apart the seams. Don’t let them. Weddings and funerals will fling you back together from far corners from time to time over the years. And when you find yourself in same room once again, you’re going to quietly marvel that these are your people. And they are such wonderful people. Really.
You will make mistakes. You will have regrets. You will hurt people. You will hurt yourself. Challenge yourself to find a solution. To learn a lesson. To apologize and mean it. To forgive and let go.
Let the seed of faith grow. It really is the root of everything.
Pet all the dogs you meet. Be happy. Have fun. Go barefoot. Refuse to let the world tame you. Say a prayer of thanks every night as your head hits the pillow. Get up early enough to welcome each new day.
Never lose sight of who you are, little self. And I promise to do the same.
See you soon, 33-year-old You