With her cassette tape and walkman in tow, she plops herself down to sit on the floor. She takes a book from the shelf and flips the page to where a new chapter begins…
This is the first in a 3-part series on what I would like to tell my younger self. Each post is addressed to myself at ages 11, 18, and 25. These ages proved to be turning points in my life for personal reasons, each with a basketful of lessons I carry till today. And my prayer is that you, my dear readers, will learn a thing or two from them as well.
Ready? Good, let’s start the throwback in 1997 with fifth grader me.
Hello, and congratulations on reaching adolescence! Wait, sorry. That sounds weird, as if you just won puberty as a jackpot prize. Let’s start again. Hello there! How’s being an almost legit teenager like for you? There, much better. This is your 30 year old self writing to you. Don’t freak out… breathe, it’s okay. I’m simply writing to give you a few tips on how to survive your teenage years. And maybe, just maybe, even give you a peek of—wait for it—the future!
This puberty thing is hitting you pretty hard. Eyeglasses, pimples, plus you have braces coming up. I understand how awkward it feels. Body image is a personal issue you’re aware of but would rather not talk about. Well my dear, you can’t avoid the subject forever. You’ve been called a lot of names because of the way you look and it hurts you. Your self-esteem is dropping and you’re starting to believe that you’re not enough. Not pretty enough, not tall enough, not good enough. Girl, stop. You need to stop believing these lies. Talk to you mom and to your sister about it, don’t be ashamed to ask for help. After all, they are the ones who know you and love you inside and out since day one. Remember that you are beautiful, and you are more than enough.
You don’t see it now, but this self-esteem thing is also affecting your social life. You’re trying so hard to be part of what you think is the cool squad. Trying so hard to fit in. Trying so hard to be someone you’re not. Here’s a dose of wisdom for you: listen to your mother. Yes, you heard me right. When she tells you she’s not comfortable with you hanging out with these people, listen to her. She knows what she’s talking about. She sees something you don’t. So take heed of mommy’s advice. Besides, who said you’re not cool anyway? You are your own brand of cool. Books and swords and care bears and milk are totally your thing. Embrace it, don’t hide it. And don’t worry about not having friends, you’re definitely having a bunch of them. These are the friends who will stick with you like glue and love you like crazy.
School is wearing you down at this point. The pressure of keeping up your grades and maintaining a position on the honor roll is getting to you. You are tired of competing. But you’re not just tired, you’re scared. You’re scared of being nothing when you’re no longer on top. Dear one, I want to let you know that there is more to life than this. You probably think it’s such a cliché just hearing me say that. But trust me, it’s true. You will later realize that the basis of your value is not on what you can do, but on what God has already done.
Another thing I want to talk to you about is dad. Hey hey, don’t step away. I know emotions like these make you feel uncomfortable. After all, you’re not used talking about it at this time. But I know how it feels. I know how you go inside your closet to hide there and cry. As tears fall down your eyes, you whisper a name you’ve been missing all your life. “Daddy.” It’s okay. I miss him too. I still do. But we don’t have to live our lives just wishing he wasn’t dead. Growing up without a father can be sad and hard at times, but it’s not impossible. Years from now, you will know about the Father’s love. The heavenly Father, who sees every tear and hears every heartbeat, is right there with you. He protects you, cares for you, and provides for you. He loves you, fully and completely. And there is nothing in heaven or earth that will be able to separate you from His love.
I guess that’s it for now. Give yourself a tap on the back because you’ll definitely survive adolescence. Don’t make a fuss about high school, you’re gonna be fine. You’re going to meet new friends and share lots of fun memories together (I’ve got three hints for you: thread, cards, Noli Me Tangere).
Oh, and about the other future stuff… here are a couple of things you might be interested to know. Boybands are not forever. Shocking, I know. Some go their separate ways, some try a solo career. Some never get back together, but there are those who reunite and have a revival concert. You’ll eventually outgrow MTV and Sweet Valley Twins. You still like researching about Tudor history. You still wonder about Camelot. You still care about the care bears. And yes, you still love to drink milk.