Honestly this is one of the harder writing assignments I’ve ever done (and I was the one who picked this subject! What was I thinking?) For over a week now, just thinking about which version of me I’d like to talk to, I’ve gone back in time and revisited a lot of things I am not really okay with reliving. The other night Jeri said, “Goodness I can't pinpoint what year I needed a smack in the face the most!” and I was like, “I have far too many years I needed a smack in the face. Which one do I chose?” There are versions of my past self that I have still not forgiven and those that I don’t want to speak to ever again. Isn't it funny how we naturally gravitate to the bad stuff first?
The fact is, it’s true and that makes me so sad, but grateful I am finally in a place where I feel somewhat settled and okay and even a little happy with who I am.
Today I will choose 19 year old College Freshman, Bobbe. She could have used some 54 year old Bobbe wisdom back then.
Dear 19 year old Bobbe:
Hello old friend. As I write this, there are tears streaming down my face at the thought of you. There is so much of you that I truly miss. You are bubbly, smart, pretty and completely untarnished by the outside world. I know you are carefree right now and ready to begin your first year away from home. It’s going to be exciting not to be under constant scrutiny and control; but you need to be careful with this newfound freedom. Even though you don’t realize it right now, it can and will affect the rest of your life if you aren’t careful.
It’s a minor miracle that you actually know what your talent in this life is. You are right to want to pursue a career in journalism. You’ve been expressing yourself through the written word since you were first able to put pencil to paper. So for the love of God, when you go and see your student advisor to select your classes, do not allow her to rob your spirit. Do not listen to her when she tries to tell you that journalism is the hardest field in the world to get into and that you don’t have what it takes. She has no way of knowing what you are capable of. She doesn't know you. She may be in a position of authority, but you do not have to take her word as Gospel.
It might shock you to know that not all people in positions of authority are always right and you have the right to make up your own mind. The woman will tell you that you can’t get into the classes you need, but that’s not true. She’s not being honest. If you listen to her, you’ll spend the next five to ten years trying to figure out what you already know right now.
I know because I bring that up, you have a thousand questions for me.
I also know the first thing you want me to tell you is whether or not we ever find the real love we desperately seek. That answer is yes, but I don’t want to tell you when. I wish I could, but I fear if I reveal it, you might miss out on a lot of lessons you are meant to learn.
Speaking of lessons, I sure wish I could make you understand how important “the future” actually is. I know you think there is time for everything and that you don’t have to worry about all the heavy stuff until later. You couldn’t be more wrong. (I also know that even if I were right there with you in the physical form, leading you by the hand, you’d still find a way to get out of anything that isn’t fun.) In a way it’s not your fault -even though it is. I know you understand. I still remember how it felt to feel finally out of that place of constant control.
You will definitely have tons of fun this year, but as you will learn, there is a cost for everything we do here on earth. You are going to eventually pay the price by way of having to repeat it all later. The good news is that when that finally happens, you’ll be mature and self-aware enough to graduate with high marks. (You don’t want to know just how long it will take you, however; -or how you end up with degrees in World Religion, Spanish, Graphic Design and Communications. Stop laughing, it's true.) The sooner you lose the, “I will worry about this later” attitude, the better. When “later” finally arrives, it can and it will kick you in the ass.
With. A. Steel. Pointy-toed. Boot.
The good news is that you come out of it understanding more about yourself and why you do the things you do. Although there are millions of people who grew up in similar circumstances, it turns out most people were not raised in the same atmosphere you were. You will find out later in life that your upbringing is behind a lot of your feelings of "being different" than others; the good kind of different AND the bad kind of different.
The most important piece of advice I have to offer you is to stop trying to please people. This is at the root of every mistake you make in life. Without exception, every single time you sacrifice what you want for your life in order to try and make someone else happy, it's an enormous failure and a waste of precious time. I know you just want everyone around you to be happy. Turns out your job is to grow up and become who you authentically are. All that other stuff just throws you off course. God wants you in this world to follow your own path; not the path someone else deems appropriate for you. Follow what your heart tells you to do minus the part that says you don't deserve the happiness you seek. You do.
By the way, that follow your heart stuff? It's called instinct and you have excellent ones. You will learn much later in life that you have exceptional gifts in this area.
One of the greatest Blessings of your life are all of the friends you've made growing up. Keep them close. When you argue and fight, talk it over and move forward. When you are my age, it's important to have those people in your life who really, truly know and love you. Don't waste time hibernating when your feelings are hurt and for heaven's sake, don't cut people out of your life for stupid reasons. Stay connected. Learn to be a good friend. Find forgiveness in your heart and apologize when you are the one who is wrong.
Finally, I want to tell you something you don't know yet. You are more than just a pretty girl. You are more than just the comic relief in stressful situations. In your life you are going to touch a lot of people; maybe even more than you'll ever know. You will save a few lives. Yes, YOU. Your struggles are going to help you cement a steadfast love and devotion to God. You will experience miracles and sharing your stories will inspire others. Your struggles will teach you humility and lead you to a high degree of compassion for others.
One day, dear girl, you will finally feel at peace in your own skin. You are a fighter, a survivor and the daughter of the Most High God. He loves you and I love you, too.
Until next time,
54 year old Bobbe