I re-read through this in 2014 and updated it. This was originally written around 2008, I think.
The challenge was on Oprah a few years back. I took that challenge and decided to post it here. So, are you up for giving your younger self advice? What advice would you give to your “younger” self in a letter?
Thank you, QuarterLifeLauren for the picture
I know you don’t like to listen to grown ups and what they have to offer, but I can only hope as I am you as a grown up, that you will listen to me. You’re 14 right now and you have your whole world ahead of you. I know what life is going to be like when you’re 38, and honey there are just some things you need to not do!
Keep God first. You’re active in youth at Church right now. Don’t lose it. You keep God first right now, and most of the things we’re going to go through later on wouldn’t have happened.
QUIT SMOKING. Ugh, you don’t really smoke much right now and it won’t be so hard. In a few more years, you’ll be glad you did. Believe me when I tell you that it’s really hard to quit when you’ve been doing it for so long. (I finally quit around June 8, 2007 and it’s been rough!)
Keep on saying no to drugs. You know it’s the one thing I said actually said no to and I’m so glad I did. We’ll drink some and sometimes to extremes, but drinking is never a problem for us.
When you start losing weight this year, work on keeping it off. Keep on exercising and make it part of your everyday life.
That guy at Aladdin’s Castle that you think is wonderful. He’s going to be your first husband. What you realize in 2013 was that if you had just opened up and really talked about how you felt, you might still be together. Girl, learn to communicate!!!!!! (This is going to be an issue–communication–in everything!)
In your junior year of high school, there will be a Christmas party for the Color Guard at the teacher’s house. GO TO THE PARTY. Do not, and I stress, DO NOT go with Mireille to see that guy. That guy is a jerk. Because of the events of that night, you will battle with many demons for many years. Eventually, you will ask God to forgive you, and He will, but it’s a long and hard battle that you aren’t going to share with many folks. You’ll regret the events of that night forever. (Luckily, later on, you’ll forgive yourself and God gave you a huge cup of Grace for that night too and forgave you.)
You’re going to become guys’ best friend. They will come to you to talk about their girlfriends. Just deal with it. It’s not that you aren’t good enough for any of them. It’s that you’re a good listener and you seem to know what to say. This won’t really change through the years. Many times, you’ll have more male friends than female friends.
When you and Tim divorce, you’re going to meet a guy named David. Now, listen very carefully, the two of you will get married. It’s not a bad marriage, although y’all don’t communicate well. But, you will get divorced. The divorce will be painful. You will do everything you can to make it work but it’s just not going to happen. But, here is why you have to marry this guy. You have two beautiful daughters who are your heart and soul. Oh, I just can’t tell you how wonderful these girls are. They are so talented in many ways and they just bring joy to you. Oh yeah, sometimes you’re going to feel like you’re at your wits’ end, but then one of them will do something so incredibly sweet, and it will melt you all over.
During this marriage, you will discover the Internet and chat rooms. Listen to me right now…any man you meet who knows you’re married and still tries to sweet talk you isn’t worth the time it takes to type hello. (If you keep God in that number 1 position, this will be moot.) If you would talk to your husband about these needs you have, you wouldn’t have talked to this guy in the first place. That makes us examine the next point.
Learn to communicate your needs and emotions. Be able to tell people no and not feel like they are taking advantage of you, because you know what? THEY ARE! But, dear sweet young Cathy, you are allowing them to do so. Close that open wall up and build a beautiful door which only you can open. Oh you can be such a sucker…don’t be a sucker Cathy.
You deserve better than having an affair. You are better than that. I know at 14 you think I’m insane even bringing this up, but trust me, it will become an issue. You deserve someone who will love you no matter where you are. You deserve someone who will hold your hand, call you and not hide the conversation, who will tell folks “Can I call you back? Cathy’s on the phone.” Cathy you are a wonderful person. All the good things you think you deserve? You do deserve them.
You know that little voice that you hear but then ignore? Learn to just listen to it. I can’t tell you how many times that little voice is right. You’re going to ignore her and be sorry. And you’re going to hear her taunting you saying, “I TOLD YOU SO!!!!!!!” That little voice…that then taunts – UGH!
Here’s one thing I don’t know if I should tell you or not. Your brother…you aren’t going to believe this one….next year when he graduates from High School, the two of you are going to become best friends. I know it’s shocking!!! He’s still going to act like he’s going to hit you and then really do it. For some reason, that never changes. Cherish him. Figure out how to save some of those long and crazy voice mail messages he leaves, because he won’t be around to leave them when you’re older. Oh Cathy you’re going to miss him so much. Your whole world will change on March 28, 2002.
It’s going to be hard and at first you just won’t believe you’re going to make it. Just keep on taking it one day at a time. Actually at first, it’s one breath at a time. You’ll make it through. You have to because shortly after this your mom is going to get really sick. She has to have you be strong for her. You make it through that too. See, you’re amazing really at all you can do. You don’t think you are sometimes, but you are.
At some point in 2004, when you least expect it, you’re going to fall in love with this man named James. (hindsight in 2014 – RUNNNNN!!!!!!!!). That little voice? It’s right — just run.
You’re going to have a bumpy road, Cathy, but if you’ll keep this advice with you, you will be ok. All those little bumps and valleys and peaks make you who you are today. Keep seeing the beauty in everything and in everyone. Keep your wonderful sense of humor. Life is pretty funny, even when we don’t think it is. You have a way of making people smile when they didn’t think they could. You deserve all the good that happens in your life.
Above all, dear Cathy, keep God in your life. I promise if you do this, many of the things I have told you about won’t even be an issue. Even if you falter and slide away, He is going to open His arms for you to come running back into. He forgives you so much easier than you will forgive yourself. Good thing is that He is there to help you on your journeys. He has beautiful things for you.
Life is beautiful, Cathy, experience it! I love you, don’t ever ever forget that!!
“The LORD your God is with you, he is mighty to save. He will take great delight in you, he will quiet you with his love, he will rejoice over you with singing.” Zephaniah 3:17