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Jen Pollock Michel

( author + writer + speaker )

Dear Me (A letter to my high school self)

jenmichel@me.com

 

 

 

 

 

Emily Freeman of Chatting at the Sky has recently released a book for high school girls called Graceful. I imagine this is a book I wish I had read when I was sixteen. No doubt it will be a book I ask my teenage daughters to read! In celebration of the book's release, Emily asked bloggers to write a "Dear Me" letter to their teenage selves. And seeing as I can't resist a good writing prompt . . .

September 14, 2012

Dear Me,

I’m writing you across the span of twenty years. You can’t imagine all that’s happened and who you’ve become, although I don’t intend here to spoil any surprises. You will need faith, not foreknowledge, for the days ahead, even darkness, rather than light. And while there is so much in me that wants to tell you exactly what to do and not do and what mistakes you’d be better off not making, I can only talk to you across this span. I have been given no power to return and re-inhabit the body that is yours.

But I might hope you could listen.

I’ve promised you no specifics, but for the purposes of this letter, you’ll need to know that you are cleaved in the middle of high school, halved and separated by an event that you cannot now anticipate or prepare for. I might call it even: your birth. Allow me then, to speak to those dual and dueling selves inhabiting your body and the years we call high school. We’ll call these selves the old and the new, and I have different advice for them. They are simultaneously the same and yet different. They are you, and they are not. I cannot explain much more than that.

But I might hope you could listen.

It’s been a longstanding Worthington tradition for our graduating seniors to write their “wills,” bequeathing to their friends the memories and advice that they hope will serve them well. In that spirit, I want to will to you the things I wish for you. It’s my clumsy attempt to bridge the span that separates us: you, the fresh face of youth, and me, a greying almost forty-something.

To the old self, the you and me of 14 and 15, I will:

  1. Sense. There are risks that simply aren’t worth taking.
  2. Consequences. These would serve you well, especially in light of #1.
  3. Curiosity. It’s a big world out there, and who cares if someone thinks you’re smart?
  4. Waiting. “’Cause when you’re fifteen and somebody tells you they love you, you’re gonna believe them.”

To the new self, the you and me of 16 and 17, I will:

  1. Fire. Burn.
  2. Break-ups. “Cause when you’re sixteen and somebody tells you they love you, you’re gonna believe them.”
  3. Friendships. You’re not fooling anyone; you need them.
  4. Earth. Because the ground under your feet is holy.
  5. Grace. I can tell you: there is no falling from the Hands of rescue.

I have only one more thing to ask: please hug your dad and brother as soon as you have read this letter. Tell them you love them. And mean it.

I might add that there is nothing in the future to fear. I can’t promise the terrain ahead is easy, but I can assure you that everything that is rugged becomes beautiful.

Peace, Jen.

Faith, hope and love abide, these three. But the greatest of these is love.

And I love you. And Him.

Me