First, girl–you totally need to learn to relax. You take everything so seriously! That stress you let build about every little thing in your life, especially all that worrying about what people think about you? It’s gonna put you in the ER when you’re 25. So, please! Start believing now that your worth is not based on how you perform and what you produce, but on Whose you are.
Ok, got that off my chest. Now, to what makes you happy–those dreams to write a book someday? Hang on to them. You may want to let go of the idea they’re gonna be a memoir and begin to wrap your mind around becoming a cookbook author. I know it’s a stretch. But a cookbook is a great start, and you’re gonna learn so much in the process. Set the memoir on the back burner. Memoirs are for people who’ve matured a bit. Which you have not.
Which reminds me–you’re a late bloomer. I’m just warning you, you may think you’re something special finally wearing your first bra at 14, but it’s gonna be THREE MORE YEARS before Aunt Flo arrives. You will play with dollhouses for at least another year or two, and you won’t bother to get your driver’s license until you’re 21. But eventually someone will ask you how you like your coffee, and you will treasure that as proof that you’re finally entering the adult world. NEWS FLASH: You will struggle with not feeling like a grown up until after your third child and your 30th birthday, and then you will finally be satisfied that you have arrived.
Ah, yes, the children. I get such a kick out of you, girlfriend–you are so excited about being a mom someday. You even have a preferred birth order for your first children…boy, girl, boy (just like the family you were born into.) Good news: It’ll happen just the way you hope. And that girl’s name you’ve had picked out since you were 8? She’s blonde and her eyes sparkle as bright as the meaning of her name…
…As you get your baby brother ready for bed and make him laugh so hard with the silly games and tickle wars you incite that Mom has to tell you BOTH to calm down, you wonder if you’ll be able to love your own children as much as this. Don’t worry. It’s more awesome than you can imagine. (Oh, and all that time you spend taking care of those younger siblings? Potty training and teaching them to read? You will be SO grateful, because you’ll enter motherhood with a few things under your belt, which will allow you to enjoy it even more than your worry-wart self would have otherwise!)
You worry a lot. Gosh. You worry about your education. Guess what? At 18 you’ll pass your GED with flying colors, even though you’ll choose to quit formal studies at 17 so you can put all your efforts into your home business. You’ll go on to feel you got one of the best educations in the world, because you were taught, most of all, to love learning. You’ll discover what an asset this is when you realize, sometime in your twenties, that the learning never stops. So, you’ll be embracing new learning opportunities with joy for the rest of your life.
You worry about if a guy will ever notice you. Oh, and you worry a LOT that he’ll be short. You are so not ready for this: Yes, he will be shorter than you, and you won’t care. See? You’ve totally shut me out. You were SO not ready for that one…
You worry about friends. You worry about not having anyone in your life you could ask to be a bridesmaid. Silly girl. What you don’t realize is that, in 9 more years, your little sisters won’t be so little anymore, and it will be a no-brainer to ask them to be in your wedding because they have become your best friends. See? Told you it was silly to worry!
You long for friends constantly. You blame everything–living on the homestead, being raised ultra-conservative, but especially yourself–you know your shyness is perceived as a ‘holier than thou’ attitude, and your fear of initiating conversation or stepping out of your comfort zone creates a barrier between you and others. I have great news—that shyness is not your natural personality, it’s a symptom of your issues with self worth. You will grow out of this and become one of the most extroverted people you know. Yes, you’ll have stretch marks from this process!
And you will have friends. Friends who know you really well, as in, they’ve seen the crazy side of you, the failure, the scars, the weakness, the sillyness, the hopes–and they love you anyway. You will find acceptance, love, accountability and, best of all, that feeling of community and belonging that you cry for in your bed at night. You will have friends who will do crazy things like
- throw a garage sale together overnight,
- run a 5k,
- press 80 gallons of cider in one day,
- go to blogging conferences together,
- vacuum each other’s houses,
- write embarrassing letters to our teenage selves,
…and best of all are just a phonecall away when you’re in a crisis (whether that’s ‘what to wear to a cocktail party’ to ‘how to see God as a loving Father’).
I’m telling you, it’s gonna be worth the wait.
So, go on. Bury yourself in another book, fill yet another journal with your atrocious spelling, and quit worrying about the woman you will become. God really does have a plan for your life. It’s gonna be awesome. I promise.
Fondly, with a reminder that I’m not laughing at you but with you,
(The blogosphere is full of letters to our teenage selves this week, in celebration of Emily Freeman’s new book Graceful. Care to join us? What would you like to be able to tell your teenage self?)
Funny…I felt totally grown up at seventeen, yet I still spent years wondering where my life was going. I remember wishing that I knew how it was going to end up, just so I could stop worrying about it.
I look back and laugh–it ended up fine. Sometimes I sit up and night and watch my children and husband sleep, and I think–I have two kids I adore, a husband I love, a nice house, a great career….and I wish I could reach back to my seventeen-year-old self and say, look, it all turns out good, just hang on.
Glad to know others feel the same way.
Now that life has slowed down a little(I know, I go back to work full time and back to school, and it actually slows my life down, go figure) I still plan to have you guys down!
oh, wow! back to school? what for? it’s so fun to enter a season of learning again. would be neat to see you again when your schedule allows!
So fun! What a delight this was to read. I especially love “Start believing now that your worth is not based on how you perform and what you produce, but on Whose you are.” Amen, amen, amen.!!!
Elisabeth Allen says
Oh, I love this, Trina! I can relate to … A LOT of it too! 🙂 My favourite bit … ? “… quit worrying about the woman you will become. God really does have a plan for your life. It’s gonna be awesome.” Thanks so much for sharing! Blessings, Elisabeth
I’m smiling because once upon a time there were two girls who lived on the same hilltop –both worried about having no friends–and because of the circumstances beyond their control, couldn’t be friends with each other at the that time–yet years later they did end up becoming friends and the other night both stayed up way too late writing letters to those lonely teenage selves. Grateful for your friendship Trina and appreciated this little peek into the life you lived as my closest neighbor! (And I hope you’ve recovered from staying up way past your bedtime the other night!)
the way our lives have intersected is a pretty neat story. i think this friendship was meant to be…
Stefanie Brown (@stefanieybrown) says
What a fantastic letter!! As I read through, I could feel your energetic, determined self reading it aloud as you did next to me during our writers breakout last year at Relevant. The power of your words leaps off the page and their truth resonates loudly. You’re such an amazing person with an incredible story to tell. Thank you for sharing.
See you in a few short weeks!
Stephanie, you’re totally the queen of uplifting words–thanks for your encouragement! Can’t wait to reunite at Allume….
Stefanie Brown says
Thank you, Trina!! I really appreciate your kind words:))
I, too, can’t wait to reunite at Allume!!
Everly Pleasant says
Quite possibly my favorite “Dear Teenage Self” letter yet! I can totally relate to this one. Especially the late blooming (ha!) and “can I love my own kids as much as I love my siblings???”
Love you, Trina!
thanks, Ev–this was so fun to write, I’m glad you enjoyed it.
Gretchen Louise says
You are positively adorable. Love the pictures. And love being one of your friends. HUGS
ha. it was so easy to find corny pictures of myself in my teens. LOL
Funny, it took me until I was 30 and had 3 children (all arriving within 2 months of each other) before I realized I’d finally grown up. I felt 13 for about 5 years, then I felt about 18 for at least 10 years. It doesn’t help that I look about 10 years younger than I am, but now that I’m 30, I think that’s a really good thing. : )
There was a particular moment when I realized I’d grown up. At my church, all the young girls ages 8-13 like to borrow the babies after church. I’d been a foster mom for about three months, with three little boys under three, and the girls LOVED to play with my babies and my arms loved the break. As I handed one baby over, I asked the girl to stay inside with him. I did it without fear of what she thought or fear of upsetting her. I said it with confidence, secure in my authority as a parent. And it felt so good! At that moment, I felt like a Real Mom, and I knew I had Finally Grown Up.
LOVE the pictures! I did this a few years ago.. and I think I already feel like I could write a letter to my 26 year old self, lol! Funny how time passes and at every stage you’ve figured out more than you had before.