Friday, October 23, 2009

Letter to my 17-Year-Old Self (Write-Your-Own Friday from 37Days)

37Days has a new series called "Write-Your-Own Friday" and I just loved the prompt for the one last Friday and decided to post it here. This is in keeping with my goal/desire to write every day.

Letter to my seventeen year old self:

Dear Jean-

Hi.  This is your 42 year old self writing to you from a freaky as-yet-uninvented-in-your-time technology called "The Internet".  You will not discover it until 1996 and it will CHANGE EVERYTHING. Remember when people used to actually write their diaries/journals and lock them and hide them?  Now people (including me) write and publish our thoughts, feelings, reactions, photos on the INTERNET for EVERYONE (and I do mean EVERYONE) to see.  Anyone in the world can stumble upon our humble writings and read about our lives. Don't even get me started on Google Earth. (By the way, the more freaky the company name, the more successful it will probably be - Yahoo!! Google!! are just two examples).

Anyway, I really wanted to write to you and tell you that many of things you are doing, that you believe, that you know, are ABSOLUTELY RIGHT.  Your friends and family are going to stick with you as long as you stick with them. Cherish the time you have. Don't waste time on silly arguments and trying to make people into something they aren't. You are all beautiful in your uniqueness. 

Keep writing every day. Don't stop. Keep all your notebooks. Write down all the things that happen and the conversations that you have.  Explore your art - you do it in your notes to Jeffa every day - little drawings, little sayings, adding images. Don't forget you have a strong visual memory. Use it to record all your experiences. And take more pictures. Find someone to help you learn about photography and go crazy.

Don't be afraid to risk and don't be afraid to fail. Failure has not been an option in your life so far and unless you decide you want to change it, you won't. There are so many things in life that require PRACTICE and practice means that sometimes you will fail. The problem is that if you don't want to fail, you will stop trying. I know this because there are a few things I didn't try because I was afraid to fail. Don't DO IT!  Try! Try! Go! Do it! Risk! Create!  Just remember that the process is just as important as the outcome - like math - you get points for showing your work.

Don't be afraid to love. I know that you have often felt silly or judged by the intensity of your emotions. There is nothing to be ashamed of. This is who you are and it doesn't go away. Ever. But you can be kinder to yourself about this. Own it. Let it define your relationships the way it does now. Don't let jaded people influence you. People love to get little cards and gifties and you are so good at doing that. Later in your life, some folks got to you and you became unsure of yourself - you started thinking that it was the THING that mattered more than the thought "I was thinking of you so I decided to get you this card/gift to let you know". The thought is more important. 

Keep telling stories. Stories are the way we remember and honor ourselves, our lives and our relationships. You are going to experience a lot of death. Don't be afraid. It is hard, but keep your heart open to the lessons you will learn. Keep your heart open to the people who will teach you those lessons. You are stronger than anyone ever thought. 

One last thing - you can't make everyone happy. Stop trying now. Just try to be kind, have integrity, have fun and keep your sense of humor.  Please yourself more. Listen to great music. Read great books. Make great friends. But know that you are enough. You have it in you to be amazing - you just have to step out of your own way.

Have a good time and take care of yourself. Make sure you keep your body and mind strong. Take your vitamins. Drink more water. 

I wish this were more sophisticated, more practical. I may have to write you another letter tomorrow. I'm still evolving, so sometimes things don't quite come out the way I mean them to...



P.S. Don't let Roby date Grant.

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