Just like so fetch from the movie Mean Girls was, according to Regina, never going to happen in the pop culture lexicon, neither did so tuff. Or maybe it did, and I remain blissfully unaware. However, it was a phrase that I apparently wore out in diary writing when I was seventeen. Here’s an idea….Pamie, get yourself a vocabulary workbook and use it!!
I recently discovered said diary. It was written on a Young Life trip traveling across the country one summer. It….was….horrifying… to read the thoughts of a seventeen year old me. I am concerned not only that I thought them….BUT THAT I ACTUALLY WROTE THEM DOWN ON PAPER! Thank goodness I found this jewel before I left it as a legacy for my kids to read one day. Frontal lobe…CLEARLY not formed. I feel lucky to have survived some of my escapades and poor choices. Hopefully the statute of limitations on teenage stupidity has passed with no residual repercussions. However, it prompted me to want to write a letter to my former self, so here goes….
I am happy to hear that many elements in your life are so tuff, but I am here to tell you that most of them really don’t matter in the big scheme of things. They are just trappings. They are not real. They are only illusions exaggerated by the peer mentality with whom you have surrounded yourself….other seventeen year olds. They will disappear from your life like a mirage in a couple of months when you get your adult card and the world rushes in to surround you with more important life decisions.
I can see the angst through your words as you try to measure up against the standard of your peer group. Don’t! Just Don’t! The people you are trying so hard to impress will soon exit the grand stage of the play of your Life and take different paths. You will only reconnect with one of them …. and that will only be sporadically. Most will only live on in Facebook land. In light of that, be who you are! Stand firm! Be strong! Embrace your uniqueness! Don’t knuckle under the pressure of doing those things that you have a nagging suspicion aren’t right, just because you see others doing them. Open your eyes and look around. Those people you see as quirky and unpopular, and that heaven forbid you probably shunned…those are the ones you should befriend. They have it figured out …even at 17. They know who they are and are comfortable in their own skin and are not being seduced by the siren –popularity. Emulate them. Form your own marching band of drummers. You will be well on the path of maturity if you do, and less likely to doubt who you are later.
Don’t worry about stupid stuff like boyfriends…it all works out….I promise. You will waste too much time thinking about something that God will work out beautifully for you in the long run. Give it to Him and let it go. Instead keep working on you…and being the best YOU that you can be. Learn, explore, and dive into the big beautiful world of possibilities.
I can already see an eating disorder beginning to rear its ugly head. Nip it girlfriend. Food, an inanimate object, took up an inordinate amount of space on those pages. It almost seemed like a “friend” on your trip. My waistline is enlarging, I need to exercise! you write. Yep, you probably did ….but go back and read your own words. I don’t know ….but maybe it was the candy bars for breakfast or the chocolate cake and ice cream for snacks every day….or maybe the junk food that was recorded fastidiously on almost every page. Eat to live sweetie, not the reverse. Maybe if you skipped the junk and got into the habit of putting real food in that bod you might not even have to think about your weight….ever! Your grandparents had the right idea, go back and learn from their example. You will be glad you did later. Just a thought!
But most importantly, you were beginning your true faith journey on this trip. You were searching and you were finding real application for the words of Jesus. You were reading your Bible every day. You were learning about how God loves the you he created. You were having great conversations with your Young Life leaders. DO NOT put your faith on hold when you come home from this trip! Keep learning, keep discussing, and keep those good voices speaking into your heart. Find a way to reconcile your Young Life experience with your traditional church upbringing. Otherwise, it will be many years before you will again pick up this strand of your faith. And you will need it in your married years and in your parenting ones. If only I could convince you to keep this budding faith precious, no telling where we would be today.
You probably don’t believe any of what I am telling you…as I would imagine most seventeen year old’s would either. But oh my goodness, if you could get over yourself and listen to those older and wiser, what a different path you could travel.
Enjoy the years until you get to where I stand. Believe me, they will go faster than you can possibly fathom. Extract the worry and celebrate the journey and let wisdom build from each experience. It will be so tuff! That is the life God wants for you.
Your older and hopefully wiser self,