A Letter to My Younger Self
Here is a letter to my younger self, written on the 20th anniversary of my father's death: Dear Nine-Year-Old Self,
Today will be a big day -- one that you'll remember for the rest of your life and that will have more impact on your future than you will realize until you are much older. A lot has happened in the last few years, some of which you are unaware of, but your family is finally going to get some relief today. The principal isn't calling you into the office for anything that you've done. Your brother isn't there to pick you and your sisters up from school for a dentist appointment. Today, you are going to lose your father.
Don't worry, little girl. You will be just fine. Your sister, Nancy, will hold you and let you spoon with her on the couch for as long as you need. You'll pretend to lose your appetite for a day or so, but who are you kidding? You love food and have always been a hungry girl!
The memorial service will come and go, where you will hold your head high and read a poem written for your dad in front of the hundreds of people that will join your family in remembering his life. Your mom will white-out part of the illustration accompanying the poem in order to make it more appropriate to hand out at the service. After all, an angel holding a book titled 'Dirty Jokes' is just a little inappropriate for a church service, don't you think? To provide a little comic relief, unknowingly, you'll even bow to the crowd after your 'speech' instead of bowing to the altar. It's okay -- people will remember this occasion with a smile on their face. Years later, you will wonder how your nine-year-old self could be so brave. Your 29-year-old self would have bawled like a baby under the same circumstances.
Did I mention that you'll be fine? Actually, you will be better than fine. You'll wind up doing really well in school, and you will make some pretty fantastic choices for yourself! Along with the good decisions will come an equal amount of terrible ones. There will be plenty of setbacks, but you'll learn that flowers are not able to grow without a little rain. You will be incredibly selective about the people (especially those of the opposite sex) that you let into your life, but the ones that you do let in will prove their worth ten times over. They will carry you through the tough times and celebrate with you when accomplishments find you.
Others will discourage you from pursuing it professionally, but creativity will be your ultimate source of freedom. You will drop out of college in the middle of your fourth year, much to everyone's dismay, but don't worry, little flower. Art has always been your passion, and you will quickly rediscover it. Did I say quickly? That might be a bit of a stretch, but you will go back to your roots and even end up being a graphic designer after all! I won't give away all of the best parts of the story, but you will be incredibly happy and will find great success with your career. Remember to be patient. The pyramids weren't built overnight, and the same will go for your business. Ahh, yes -- you will start your own business! Your dad will celebrate from above, as he always wanted to do this for himself.
I mentioned that you will be hesitant to let people into your life. That will be an understatement. You will, however, surround yourself with people who are goal-getters, and you will wake up one day being incredibly thankful for being so selective! When it comes to guys, you'll brush everyone off and run in the opposite direction of actual relationships, but you will find someone who won't let you run away. You will try time and time again, but this one will show you what the real face of love looks like. Unlike your father, this man will be much less stubborn and quick to forgive in times when it is needed. He will be a keeper. Love him unconditionally -- even when it seems impossible to do so. Be good to people, and they will follow suit.
Little girl, you have so much to learn! I wish I could sit here and share everything I've learned over the last 20 years with you, but life doesn't work that way. You will figure it out. More often than not, you'll figure things out the hard way, but you learn quickly from your mistakes. Never stop dreaming, because every once in a while, your dreams actually come true!
Your dad would be very proud. Don't forget this. You might not have known him well or have meaningful stories to share, but years from now, you'll realize that this man lives on within each of his children. There will be many times when you feel the need to speak up when everyone else is silent. You will say inappropriate things at less than ideal times. You will get worked up over something seemingly miniscule simply because you are passionate about it. When everyone you know is taking the path that leads to familiar territory, you will choose to go off-roading.
Be confident in the direction that you travel. You might feel like you are flying solo, but you just might have a co-pilot after all.
Your 29-Year-Old Self