Brad Paisley has a song called “If I Could Write a Letter to Me,” and in it, he sings “If I could write a letter to me; and send it back in time to myself at 17.” That line caught my imagination this week, and it ended up being the prompt for this post.
I’m curious. What would you write to your 17-year-old self? What advice would you give? Any warnings or assurances? What would you reveal to your teenage self?
Anyway, enjoy my letter in my signature list-style.
Dear 17-Year-Old Me,
This is you from the future. I know, I know. Weird. I want to tell you some things that I think you should know, or at least things that I wished I had known back then. So, here it goes.
1. I know that you think that you could never face a family tragedy or health scare on your own without a man by your side. I know that you think you wouldn’t be strong enough to handle it should you have major health problems yourself. Here’s the thing, though: you are strong enough, and you do handle it. You find strength that you didn’t know you had. You discover this survival mode that allows you to be strong for your family and for yourself. Your meekness and deference to what adults in power say will be replaced by confidence and logic. You will have faith that will give you the strong foundation that you need, you will have family be pillars of strength, and you will have friends that you never knew you could count on step up and be your rocks. It sounds mushy, but with hope, faith, and love, you will be able to handle these trials, I promise.
2. Some people you think will be your friends forever, won’t; and some friends you think you will lose will be around for many more years. Treasure the ones who stay, and be at peace when the other ones go.
3. Remember that everyone is on their own, unique journeys—including you. Quit comparing yourself to others and what they have done or where they have traveled. You’re okay doing your own thing. Which reminds me . . . .
4. Eliminate your “friends” who use their lives to put down your life. They’re not worth your time. Friends should build you up, not put you down.
5. Get some thin-rimmed glasses. Honestly, you look ridiculous with those thick-rimmed frames. I know, I know, they’re in style. I don’t care. You look like you have a unibrow in pictures, so toss the thick-rimmed glasses and go for ones that look like you’re not even wearing any eyewear (i.e., floating frames).
6. Every show you currently love will get cancelled. Smallville—cancelled. The Dead Zone—cancelled. Monk—cancelled. There’s nothing you can do about it. I simply wish to prepare you.
7. I know that your plan is to get married by 24 and have kids a year or two after that. Well, that doesn’t happen, and you’re okay with that. Honestly, you are. You have a lot of stuff to do, and you know that marriage and kids will come later. Which brings me to . . . .
8. Our dad is right about the guys that you date about 95% of the time. I’m sorry. He just is, and I still don’t know how he does it. That’s not to say that you shouldn’t date these guys, because they will help mold your perspective on life and they will assist you in discovering what you do and don’t want in a partner. I’m just telling you that our dad is almost always right on this, so just let it go. Let it go! Let it goooooo! Umm . . . that joke will be funny to you in a few years.
9. Keep trying with Sabrina. It will take you 8 years (yes, 8) for her to trust you fully. It will take unconditional love, a mountain of patience (and I’m talking Mount Everest here), and a surgery in which you don’t leave her side during her recovery for her to realize that she is completely safe with you. This will drive out her memories of the puppy mill and of the abuse she endured before she met you, and her hurt, anger, and suspicion will be replaced with love and trust. Don’t get me wrong, I never said that she turned into a “good” dog. She still whines and errs for food, and she’ll still scream if she doesn’t get her way. However, when she looks up at you with those big brown eyes, knowing that you will never hurt her, your heart will melt and you’ll always insist that she is a “good” dog despite knowing the truth. She will be your Snoopy, and you her Charlie Brown.
10. Sabrina’s doggy friend will eventually die, although he’ll live more years than anyone would think a lab could. Let her play with him more. She misses him and still looks for him.
11. You will continually have to prove yourself, but that’s just life. This will make you work harder and harder, which will pay off in the end.
12. Your motto will be “I’ll figure it out,” and have faith that you will, because you always do.
13. I wish that you would enjoy the present more. You’re always looking toward the future, toward some goal off in the distance. While that’s great, and you shouldn’t ever lose that, I do wish that you would remember to enjoy the present moments as well.
14. Send Granny rainbow roses. You will send her every color of rose under the sun except for rainbow. I really wish that you had sent her rainbow roses.
15. Invest everything in Jazz Pharmaceuticals, and ride out Netflix’s downturn. You’ll thank me later.
Maybe you’re upset because I don’t really give you specific details on some things that I know that you’re wondering about. I don’t tell you if you’re going to get an “A” in biology class or if you’ll get into college. Okay . . . you get an “A” in biology (just barely, but you do) and you get into college and get most of it paid for with scholarships. But that’s all the information you’re going to get! The reason why I’m not telling you more is because 1) this is only an exercise on a blog so there’s no point, and 2) experiencing all of the heartbreaks and joys will make you into someone who you can look at in the mirror and go, “Well, I have my faults, but it’ll do.” They make you into someone who, when our grandmother is on her deathbed says, “More importantly, you’re a good person.” I want her to be able to say those words to you again. So, that’s all I’ll tell you, and I guess that I’ll be seeing you in the future.
— Me (Or is it “You?” Or is it “Us?” Because it’s you writing to you, but it’s also me writing to me, but the me is also you, which is also me , so I guess that it’s us, but not really us because you’re not writing this, I am . . . . Ahhh, brain malfunction!)