to myself on a regular day

I don’t remember All Saints’ Day of 2011, but I know that I was miserable. It had been less than a month since I’d broken up with my boyfriend, and I was entering the darkest period of a long depression. I worried constantly about what I’d do after I graduated and whether I was worthy of anyone’s love and what the point of anything could possibly be.

I have wished often that I could talk to that person, answer the questions she didn’t have the courage to actually ask.

If I could write her a letter, I’d want to tell her that things would be just fine. I’d love to surprise her with all the things she was incapable of anticipating. I’d like to say,
Your final semester of senior year will be picture-perfect, as quirky and fun and fulfilling as you’ve ever wanted. You will neither live long-term with your parents nor work at Taco Bell. In fact, two years from now you’ll be at a coffee shop visiting gorgeous Upstate New York and your wonderful boyfriend of exactly one year, doing homework you still love for the school you attend for free in Boston. You will have few regrets.

I’d like to gloss over all the hard stuff that happened in the intervening time because we are overly prone to really unhelpful, long fits of dread. I’d just want to tell her the good things, so she’d know that she wouldn’t always be lost. She’d be found by God, by a lot of beautiful people, and by herself – not really by looking, just by going along in good faith, the way she’d always hoped these things could work.

If I really could write her a letter, though, I’d want to say those things but I’d decide against it, because I like surprises and also because of quantum physics and not killing your grandfather and stuff. Ever since I was small, I’ve thought it strange that people would want to know the future. Now I think so more than ever. It is the not knowing that reminds us how we can only unwrap the days and years one at a time, leaning into them like the gifts they are.

But do wish I could tell her, in cursive that’s not much changed, on heavy paper, in an envelope sealed with stickers:
It is not yours to know what events will happen; of course, some will be good and some bad. Only be at peace about who you are becoming. The “real world” will test and prove the lessons you’re trying to teach yourself and your improv team: trust your friends. trust the process. trust yourself. live in the moment; pay attention. more humility is better. more confidence is better. if you are really trying and really loving, things will work themselves out even if they’re tangled and painful right now.
In two years you will be more interesting. more kind. louder. more self-assured. you’ll be more savvy. more able to hold depth and lightness together in the same moment. you’ll be wiser and more gracious. you will know some more about what love means. you will know some more about what you don’t know.
When you leave school, there is no place assigned to you; for the first time you must carve your own space in the world. It is bewildering, ugly at times. But it will happen anyway. Making that space will teach you the shape of yourself, and with the help of God it will be beautiful, because you are beautiful. 

Yes, I wish she’d known she was beautiful.

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3 Comments

  1. This is just what I needed to read. I’m in the same spot as you were two years ago. I wrote myself a time capsule letter of sorts last month–to open in a year–and my deepest prayer is that I can answer it like you have here.

    Reply
    • I think choosing to struggle for some perspective, some trust, amidst the frustration, is at least half the battle. You are worth being PROUD of, Kelsy.

      Reply
  2. Jacqueline in Atlanta

     /  November 2, 2013

    I think the stickers on the letter are crucial. 😉

    Reply

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