Wednesday, March 30, 2016

On When I Was 8-ish | A Letter to Myself

"I don't know a perfect person.  I only know flawed people who are still worth loving."
--John Green

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I found this photo while organizing the craft room and it hit me up in all of my feelings.  If you know me well, that's not really hard to do anyway.  I think I was about 8 here, but I'm not positive - there is no date on the back.  I know that this was taken in my childhood bedroom and that puppy in the photo was named Pete.  If I close my eyes really tightly, I can still smell his puppy smell.  It's one of my favorite smells in the world.  Seriously, I love puppy smell. I don't remember what happened to Pete, but I do remember him.

See that boat I am sitting in?  It was an inflatable boat that I got to go to take to the lake one summer.  I loved it so much and I slept in it on my bed for months.  I also note the stuffed animals lined up in the back, two of which were made for me by my Grannie.  Strawberry Shortcake and the tiger one.  I used to line all of my "babies" up and read to them and "teach" them.  See?  Feels.  


What hit me hard though is me.  Look at that smiling girl, so sweet and innocent.  No idea that she needed to grow into her teeth (and thank goodness, she did) or that one day she would actually pay someone good money on a regular basis to apply hot wax to her bushy eyebrows and rip it off. (Thanks for those, Daddy.)

I started to wonder what that little girl would say to me today and, what would I say to her?  I think maybe this:

Dear 8-ish-year-old-Julie:

Wow, you are so cute!  Seriously, you are a cute kid.  Pretty soon you are going to start looking in the mirror and criticizing yourself - how you look, how you speak, what you wear, etc.  You are going to start caring A LOT about what people think of you.  That little sparkle in your eyes is going to dull a little bit, your insecurities taking their place.  

I wish I could bubble wrap you up and keep your tender heart away from all that approval seeking noise that's about to start in your head.  

You don't know this, but when you grow up, you are going to go to college and you will eventually finish, although you won't end up doing what you go to school for.  You're going to get married and you're going to have a beautiful baby girl.  This is important because in a couple of years you are going to be told by doctors that children won't be possible because you're going to find out that you have a tumor on your spine that's been there since you were born.  Oh sweet girl, I wish I could tell you that it won't be scary.  It will be, but I promise that you will be fine.  You will fight your way through it and you will be just fine.  You are so strong and brave and you don't even know it!

One day you will have your heart broken in a way you've never felt before.  I wish again that I could tell you it won't be scary.  It will be.  But I promise, again, that you will be fine.  You are brave and strong, remember?  After a while, you'll start to see the good that comes out of something bad and you'll learn that family comes in all kinds of packages.  Don't worry - everyone will get along and most importantly, your daughter will know that she is loved.  You know what?  Your daughter is going to look just like you.  Twins.

Most of all I want to tell you that you will find the love of your life.  You'll meet Him when you're about ten, but you won't really fall in love with Him until all this other stuff happens.  That's why I know I can't bubble wrap you.  I'm not sure you would find Him in the way you have if you don't walk down this road to where I am today.  

I don't want to ruin the next thirty years for you, but it all turns out to be pretty amazing, even with the bad stuff.  If you ever get scared, just know that I'm here and I love you.  Remember that you are never alone.

Adult Julie

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Dear Adult Julie:

Hi!  Thanks for the letter.  I'm gonna be honest and say that some of it was kind of a bummer, but I'll trust you that everything turns out okay.

One thing I wonder about is if you are doing what you like to do.  You know, like coloring and drawing and laughing and using your imagination?  Do you still like to run outside and make mudpies?  Do you have a puppy?  Do you still giggle a lot and have fun with your friends?  

I sure do hope so.  

I love you!  I love writing letters to you and I hope that you are always happy in your heart.  I hope that you are smiling, just like you were in this photo.

8-ish-year-old Julie 

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