Dear 18 year old me,
I know this must be strange, receiving a letter from yourself at the age of 23. No, this isn’t a school assignment (you’ve been out of school now for 2 years, by the way) and no, I’m not sitting lonely in an empty apartment with 14 cats scratching at my bedpost. You still hate cats.
I am writing this to you on an idle Wednesday morning. I am sitting in my cubical at work in Charlotte, staring at 32 unread emails and drinking coffee. It’s almost the holidays and I’m thinking of what to be for Halloween. But most importantly, on my walk into work this morning, I was thinking about the past five years and how much things have changed. How much I’ve grown, how much I’ve learned, how much I have obtained and how much I have lost. I will be writing you four letters of reflection and advice, and this is the first-
Love your family with all of your heart. You already do this, I know, and you will continue to do this until this day. Your family will go through hard times in the next few years. You all make it through only BECAUSE of the love and support you carry for each other. And NEVER take them for granted.
Don’t be afraid to get excited about the little things. Celebrate Halloween with silly costumes, not "sexy" ones. Run the Thanksgiving Turkey Trot with your friends and don’t be afraid to jog slow. Get up early to see the sunrise on the beach before class (Yes, you go to school at the beach). Take up surfing, and go outside in the many snow storms you are to experience. Talk to friends on the phone when you can and listen to what your parents have to say when they call you. Go to concerts that you REALLY want to go to, pay the extra $5 for that peppermint mocha on a cold December day. These little things will make up a big part of your character, and therefore, the course of your life. No matter how inconsequential the task may seem, if it makes you smile- DO IT.
Before you graduate high school, thank Mrs. Jones for all of the Spanish lessons she taught you. True, she seems very strict and makes the class almost “impossible” to comprehend sometimes, but I promise you- you will go into college knowing more than you think and do better than you ever would have with any other teacher. She was a tough cookie- but sometimes that makes for the sweetest rewards. Also, thank Mrs. Tringali. Sure, she made you read about a book a week for five months and your hand cramped more than you would like to admit from all of the essays (and rewrites) she required, but you are seriously ahead of the game come college and she deserves a lot of recognition for your future success. It's the toughest classes that make the road ahead smoother to travel to your preferred destination.
Read a book a month.
Write a poem every day when you find the time. Strive to gain knowledge in every nook and cranny of the library that you can. I am not a novelist, I am not even in the publishing business, but I am telling you now- keep up your writing and strive to use your passions for your success. You love to write! And although you don’t believe it now, you are very good at it. It is your strongest asset and so much of your creativity rests in your fingertips.
Have a passion. Don’t go through life thinking that all things come to those who wander. Find a passion, work hard to allow this passion to provide for your life. If you allow this to happen sooner than later, this won’t be your work, it’ll be your wealth. You will have friends who have done this for far longer than you have and you will envy their happiness every once and a while. You are happy and successful today, by the way- but at 23, you know you’re only on the cusp of something great. Don’t let it just sit on the shelf and gather dust as you sit on your computer browsing Facebook (a social media site better than Myspace that you WILL spend too much time on).
Hold your morals and values. They are what make you unique, strong, valuable, and motivated. You are still very hard on yourself- try not to let this become detrimental. It is ok to strive for improvement, but once you begin striving for perfection, know you’re only going to burn yourself out. You will make numerous mistakes, morals will be briefly forgotten in weak moments, and values will become muddled. But they aren’t far gone. You will learn that life is good at distracting you, tempting you, trying you, and teaching you. Don’t be afraid to slip and take a few steps backwards. You have done this many times- but you have managed to take two giant steps forward after the fact.
Keep up your running but don't let it define you. You will learn that you have an irregular curvature in your lower lumbar and you will still fight for the chance to run in college... You will fail... kind of. You will go on to run half marathons, a full marathon, a triathalon, and more than a handful of 5k's. Running may seem like your passion now, but trust me- God put it in your life for another reason and it serves you well... just not on the front burner. Just enjoy what your body can do and love how it makes you feel.
Also, learn to dance to good music, please. Take up some kind of dancing like ballroom, interpretive, even just gym-class hip-hop for cardio. And STAY AWAY from the Twerk. Miley Cyrus is no longer a cute Disney star, and I truly believe the Twerk is to blame…This doesn’t mean you can’t learn the “wobble”, the “wop”, or the “burney”. These are very important, I promise.
And on that note, I will leave you to wonder about what would ever possess a human being to name a dance from the sound you make when you swat a fly on the ceiling. Three more letters are to come… but remember- You’re always living the next moment of the rest of your life. Make it count.