Dear 18-year-old me,
High school was good to you. (It was middle school that was semi-terrifying.) You opened your heart to people and formed some friendships that you’ll always remember. You might be surprised to hear that although you’ll keep in touch with a handful of friends, you are on the brink of moving on and, to be honest, never really coming back. Once you start college 600 miles away, you’ll only return to your hometown a few times in the next ten years.
But—despite being born and raised in the same place—you’ll learn that home isn’t tied to geography as much as it is tied to people. For that reason, in the next ten years, you’ll create homes in a few different places and leave a bit of your heart in each.
Right now, you’re staring down the best times of your life. There is nothing in the world like discovering yourself, and where better to do it than college? This time to yourself to explore your academic interests is something you will treasure forever.
Falling in love is pretty great too. Intoxicatingly great. A little tip for the future: When that guy you fall head over heals for tells you he needs to break up so he can “figure things out,” don’t cry. He’ll propose in three weeks.
You are willing to try things even when you know they’ll be hard, but when you’re not expecting it, you tend to feel ambushed. So I hope the following helps:
Your first real curveballs will be marriage and motherhood. Marriage—because you have no idea what people mean when they say, “Marriage is hard.” And motherhood—because the pretty picture you have in your head does not include years of wiping bums, gaining and losing weight, and cleaning yogurt (and worse) out of carpet. Much less dragging (with all your might) two screaming boys out of a park and through a full parking lot, while other parents look on in pity. You will be needed all. the. time.
It is an exhausting job, physically and emotionally, but mothers are made, not born. You’ll just have to trust the process and savor the many bright spots—from the hilarious quips of a unfiltered toddler to the sweet vulnerability of a child trying something new—along the way. It’s going to be worth it.
A few more quick tips for the road?
Only buy clothes that fit well. You really, really, really don’t like being cold. You could not ask for better college roommates. You like to write—a lot. Run with it. You may not feel brave, but you’ll surprise yourself. (Spoiler alert: England! Zambia!) Keep praying.
I’m only ten years ahead of you, girl, so I don’t have all the answers. But what I can tell you is that what stands out about the next decade is the amount of love that will enter your life. Enjoy it.
And good luck!
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