(This post done in response to Emily Freeman’s invitation).
Dear Me at Age 16,
You’re a Junior. You’ve got a steady job, a car, loads of friends, good grades and a boyfriend. You are riding high.
Only, you aren’t.
You’ve stopped eating regularly. It’s painfully obvious, what with your protruding collarbones and visible ribs. Mom and Dad don’t know, because you make sure to eat something at home. You aren’t even really aware that you’ve become restrictive. Your life spins too quickly and you need to control something. Oh, honey. Eat the burger. Drink the milkshake. Enjoy the vegetables and fruits you love.
You will not be happy at 104 pounds. You will look awkward and sickly, your 5’7″ frame reduced to nothingness. It is wonderful to have curves. God made you!
And let’s talk about your height. Stop slouching! God made you taller than the other girls on purpose. He also gave you that curly hair you spend 30 minutes blow-drying straight each morning. His fingerprints are all over those petite facial features and, yes, even that high forehead. Haven’t you noticed that supermodels have high foreheads? Why are you ashamed of yours?
By the way, stop trying to achieve that tan. You’re pale. You’ll love that in a few years.
Control is very important to you. SAT’s, ACT’s and college loom ahead. You don’t have a plan. You know what? That’s all right. Nobody knows what’s going to happen. Nobody knows how their lives will shake out. You don’t have to have a road map for every minute. Rest, dear one. Just rest.
Please, return to Jesus. Do it now. You know the truth. You have known it since you were a little girl. I know that your heart aches over the things that people do in His Name. Guess what? His heart aches, too. He doesn’t like it when people abuse and use others while hiding behind the Bible. But vengeance is His. Speak the truth, and then let it go. Come back to Him and let Him love you!
Dump that boyfriend. He’s a jerk. And don’t you dare even think about dating anyone else until you’re at least 20. You are not at all confident in yourself. You don’t know who you are. Give yourself the time and the space to enjoy being you, without the pressure to be “so-and-so’s” girlfriend.
Listen to your parents. They care about you. Sometimes it seems like they are trying to ruin your life, but they aren’t. They have been where you are. They know how you struggle. They have wisdom that you don’t. Soak in what they have to offer. You’ll be a better woman for it.
Spend more time with your brother. He loves you, even though you fight a lot. You will regret the time you lost when you are older.
You have stopped writing. Don’t neglect that part of yourself.
Child, you are different from your peers. You are studious, serious (though not without a sense of humor) and reserved. You need your quiet time. You need your space. This is how you process, how you understand the world around you. Let yourself be introverted. This facet of your personality does not mean you are unacceptable. On the contrary, it means that you think and feel deeply.
Those negative reviews that you keep getting at work? Ask yourself if they make sense. If you were really doing the job so poorly, wouldn’t you be fired? The truth is, you work hard and you work well. You are dependable and willing to take on new tasks. This makes you a valuable asset. In fact, these traits will set you in good stead when you find yourself in the same field nearly 13 years later. The person giving you those reviews and behaving negatively toward you has her own issues – issues that have nothing to do with you. Keep your head up. Don’t internalize the nastiness.
You do that a lot, you know. You take everything negative that anyone ever said about you and believe it to be true. How many compliments and sincere love you miss! Chuck the junk.
STOP playing dumb when you’re around certain people. The fact that they are intimidated by how intelligent you are is their problem. You will encounter people for the rest of your life who possess a need to berate and belittle you because of the way they feel about themselves. This has nothing to do with you.
And we’re back to the control thing. The only thing you can control is your response and your attitude. Trying to please everyone and be someone you aren’t is only going to make you miserable. You’ll find yourself barhopping when you don’t like to drink and you can’t stand the stale cigarette stench. You’ll listen to music you hate, stay up later than your body can handle, compromise your values and become a nervous wreck. Take the other road!
Forgive. Accept God’s forgiveness. Forgive yourself for the unknowing mistakes and the outright sins you commit. Forgive others. What happened, what they did, was not okay. It hurt. It violated your boundaries. But forgive. Let go of all the anger and all the sorrow. Give it up to God and trust His timing and judgment.
Cry when you need to.
Paint your toenails. This will make you very happy.
Practice walking in heels. You hate them now, but you will come to love them later. You will also embrace styling products and learn how to apply your make-up more effectively. It will actually take you less time to get ready in the morning in the future than it does now, because you will start to understand that product is all about enhancing the beauty that is already there.
Cherish the times of laughter with your close friends (you know who they are). Many of them won’t be around after high school. Some will walk through fire with you. Others will fade in and out. When you chuck the junk, make sure you don’t chuck this. Keep those evenings of sitting your room, cramped together, talking about nothing and eating tacos that Mom makes in the front of your mind. Let the bright memories overtake the dark ones.
Wear your glasses. Your eyes will thank you.
Accept that you aren’t good at math, but explore science a little more.
Keep reading those history books!
Look for healthy people to be friends with. I didn’t say perfect. I said healthy. People who are comfortable with themselves. People who don’t feed on drama. You are an over-responsible person and you feel like you have to fix everyone and everything. Darling, you can’t. And that kind of relationship will tear you apart. Every. Single. Time.
You are an INTJ.
Watch the State of the Union speech. You like politics. But you can’t stand politicians. The whole thing will entertain you.
Above all, live. You are so afraid. You doubt everything you do. Take a breath and take a step. Any step. Jesus will be there.