I know that we haven’t called each other that for ten years, but since you’re on the brink of going into high school, I figured now was a once-in-a-blue-moon chance to use it again. And just so you know, I’m writing this because I know that realistically you probably wouldn’t read it had I wrote one by hand and left it at home for you. So in that spirit, I will do my best not to be overly sappy or sentimental, but no promises. I hope you will somehow come across this, so that I can pass on the wisdom that I’ve gained over the years
I can’t believe that in a couple of days, you’ll be walking through the doors of both mine and our brother’s alma matter as a high school freshman. It’s still incredibly easy to picture you as a rosy, chubby-cheeked four year old asking way too many questions or dancing around to Brother Bear and High School Musical. Regardless of how old you get, I will always somehow picture you as that, but that doesn’t mean I’m not proud of the young lady you’re becoming. It’s likely that we’ll have different experiences, but I would like to offer some insight as well.
First, it’s normal to be nervous on the first day, and even for the first year. I recall being absolutely terrified of the possibilities and things that could go wrong. Not only did I not trust very many people at the time, but I wasn’t completely comfortable with my decision to attend a private school over a public school. Not I don’t know where exactly you are, but you seem pretty confident in your choice. However, my fear was more than just about making the right decisions and making new friends. It was about losing the friends that I already had at the time.
With that being said, always be open to meeting new people, and don’t try to hold on to how life used to be. People will come in and out of your life at different times, but the ones who are meant to be there will always be somehow standing in the doorway. My closest friends are the ones that I didn’t (and still don’t) necessarily talk to every day or spend a ton of time with. Yet, we always are able to love and support each other. Sometimes we grow apart for a little while, but eventually we come back together.
My point is to appreciate who and what is right in front of you. They say not to have regrets, but my one big one is not really taking the time to genuinely get to know my classmates; not everyone will become part of your inner circle, but just because you aren’t besties doesn’t mean you can’t care about each other.
Most likely you’ll have your share of ups and downs; it’s easy to look back and say “don’t sweat the small stuff,” but I also remember what it’s like to be a teenager and not be able to see beyond certain things. Part of me wants to tell you not to worry about the boys and getting dates, because the chances of them caring about you the way you should want and deserved to be loved are pretty slim at your age. Yet, I never had a serious boyfriend for any of those four years, so I can’t say whether you’re better off being single or not. If one comes along and takes the time to get to know you for who you are, don’t deny yourself that experience. But don’t tie your worth and energy into one person’s opinion of you. Know when to hold on and when to let go, and that goes for everything. You have more fun when you’re willing to just let it happen if it’s meant to. I’ve found that the greatest joys frequently turn out to be the unexpected (and unplanned) ones.
And this might be a little awkward coming from me, but I’m guessing you’ll probably become curious about experimenting with alcohol at some point. I’m glad to see that you have little interest in it right now, but that can change over the years. It’s easy to proclaim that you’re never going to do something (I should know because that was me at your age), but you never know what kind of environment you’ll find yourself in, or how things and interests can change at any point. I’m not going to tell you what you can and can’t do in this regard, because it’s honestly not my place. It should be a conversation for you and our parents to have together. I can only hope that when you’re faced with any kind of temptation or pressure to do something risky, you’ll ask yourself if it’s worth it. Regardless if it involves drinking, drugs or sex, you’ll ask yourself if it’s worth giving up your dreams, your goals, and even your life for.
But it’s not so much about being a good person or never messing up as much as it is about being a kid. People now a days are in such a rush to grow up without realizing that there is a reason why childhood spans as long as it does. And granted, there is always something special about every phase of life that you go through, but don’t constantly try to find shortcuts when one might be better than the other. That’s not to say you won’t ever make a mistake, but there’s a difference between doing something out of curiosity and doing something when you know very well that it’s a bad idea.
My hope and prayer for you is about so much more than just making good choices, it’s about the kind of person you become. When our brother and I were in high school, people had the tendency to compare us to one another; not to say that I didn’t mind that, but it was tough at times trying to establish my own identity apart from him. I felt like not many of the guys wanted to get to know me because they were afraid of what he would do, or they would look as me as just “the sister.” My point is, you have a chance to become more of your own person. Don’t just wait until your senior year to make your mark, but leave a legacy for other people to follow. I have no doubt that you’ll be a strong leader as an athlete, but there are other avenues of respect as well. I hope you’ll become a young woman of kindness, compassion, and faith. While I’m not sure what you think of God, but I also hope that someday you’ll find a spiritual foundation. It’s not about religion, but realizing that there is something bigger than you out there, and there will be times where you have no choice but to trust it.
I want you to be able to confide in me if and whenever you’re struggling, but that’s easier said then done. As I said before, we’ll probably have different experiences and it’s not always easy to relate to someone when there’s a seven year age gap. I do want to hear about things like homecoming and classes and sports, but if you’re comfortable enough with it, I want to hear about the tough stuff as well. And if you feel like you can’t talk to me or Mom about it, it’s always good to find someone who’s a year or two older and has a good head on their shoulders. My closest friends from high school range from a year to three years older than me, and having them in my life has been more of a blessing that I can describe.
By the end of it all, it may turn out that these next four years aren’t your “glory days” and that’s OK. It might just be a stepping stone to something greater, as it was for me. While the ride may not be the smoothest, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t throw your hands up and make the most of it.
I love you so much, and I know you’re going to do well. Despite that I may be away from home a lot of the time, I will always be here to support you and take care of you in whatever way you need it, which is why I’ve written this. I wish you the best for your first day, as well as for this new and special chapter in your life.
photo credit: demandaj via photopin cc