Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Girl Meets Life

Or, God writes more than love stories.

Dear 18 year old self,

I am writing this letter to you from a few months shy of your 30th birthday. I know you were so anxious to actually be an adult and not just feel like one, so that age doesn't scare you at all. However, you're going to need to brace yourself for this next part because almost-30 looks absolutely nothing like you imagined it would.

I send this letter to find you on the eve of the beginning of your undergraduate life. You are so scared. You chose a school close to home so you could commute and avoid the uncertainty of dorm life filled with unknown people and tales of communal bathrooms where someone might glimpse your imperfect body.

You chose the option where you could live at home, and yet you are still filled with anxiety. This was not your dream. You didn't want to go to school. All you wanted out of life was a family. You would've been perfectly happy to be married at 18 with babies soon on the way. Had that happened, I'm sure you would've been great at it. But, it didn't happen. It still hasn't happened.

Don't freak out.

You're totally ok with your life.

(Ok, maybe not "totally" - but you're happy and have a future and a pretty awesome life.)

Look at you! (somewhere around 18, before we stuck pictures of ourselves on the internet all the time.)

Let me highlight a few things that you're going to learn that will make all the difference:

If you look for it, God fulfills your dreams in many ways. You are not yet a "mom" at almost-30, but you've been blessed to hear "Happy Mother's Day!" from children whom you mother. You'll see people who need that mothering instinct and you'll figure out how to use that. What's more, while being a mother will always be your greatest dream, you'll recognize that there are things that happen in your life that couldn't have happened had you started motherhood early and you'll appreciate the bigger picture.

Right now you're still scared of the unknown, but soon, you're going to get a taste of adventure and seeing life from different perspectives and you'll be excited to experience ife in different places. That's gonna happen, and you're going to love it! Eventually, you are going to love the thrill of the unknown. You will thrive on those experiences that promise either great success, or defeat. Really, you will.

You're going to get your heart broken. You'll waver between trying to fix it with anger, trying to fix it with kindness, and trying to fix it with indifference. Eventually, you'll realize it's not going to get "fixed" and you will let yourself feel the hurt and shame of it all. At some point, it will be a fogged-over memory and almost as if it happened to someone else with only the occassional itching of the scar it left behind to remind you that it is part of your story. Mostly, though, you're going to be ok.

That body of yours? It's awesome. It is strong and capable. When you stop hating it, you'll take care of it. You are not what society labels your body type. You will prove them wrong again and again. You will feel beautiful. You will dance. You will let yourself be hugged and held without worrying about if your body is being judged.

Also, you are so creative! I know, I know, you are not the artist in the family. Your painting of Christmas ornaments is horribly childish. Poetry is overly complicated. And, what is with abstract art? You know what though? You totally could have rocked art school (Yeah, I know, that secret little dream of yours that you pursued for about two seconds before you dropped it because you "can't draw.") Eventually you're going to dabble in creative writing (yes, poetry, and it can be pretty fabulous). You're never going to get great at drawing, but you can turn a room into a masterpiece. You can serve dinner with flare. You'll wear bold colors. You will wander museums happily alone, drinking in the beauty of lines and splatters and bold swatches of color. You will one day happen upon classical music during a scan of the radio on a dreary rainy day and you will be hooked. You and art, you're gonna be great together.

This next thing is what I really wanted to tell you though. If I could reach back in time and assure you, here is the picture I would want to give you. At 18, you are scared about college and it's not even something you want. 11 years later though, you'll hardly be able to contain your excitement as you prepare to change your life one more time to begin graduate school. Furtheremore, it's kind of a degree that's attached to politics. I know, it seems crazy, that idea is not anywhere close to your radar! You hate politics. Let me tell you though, you have never been this excited about the future. For that matter, you've never been so uncertain about the future. You have absolutely no concrete idea of what you'll do afterwards. Sure, you have the ideas, the dream jobs, the goals. How it all pans out though is an absolute beautiful mystery. But, remember, you love those leaps of faith now. You love the tension between the unknown and the vast realm of possibilities.

So, dear 18-year-old-self, cry tonight. Get up in the morning and start that undergraduate degree. Learn and grow and embrace life. The next decade is going to be a doozy, but you're gonna come out stronger and better knowing who you are.

I'll see you soon,



P.S. You get to live the city life for a few years. It really really fits you well. :)


  1. You are amazingly talented, Nicole! Keep it up and we will all say, "I knew her when". -Julie Cash

    1. Thank you for coming by to read and for the encouragement!

  2. Girl, that ROCKS! Brilliant. Keep up the honesty, integrity and the creativity! These things definitely help you to appreciate the "jumping off a cliff" as a good thing! I'm gonna get to say "I knew her when she was teaching....) Blessed be! Jen Grover

    1. Thanks! Honesty is one of my big goals in writing. If I'm not authentic, I've got no strength!

  3. That was beautiful. I wish that I would have know many of the things that I know now way back then.

  4. I love this! Very beautiful. I may write something like this soon. :)