I think there are times in life where one is much too busy to be thinking about where they stand in the world. On such days we wake up each morning, work all day, and go to bed inside our own tiny universes, busily set out to construct everything around us to our own specifications.
Then there are moments that give you pause. Life throws you a curveball. Or possibly a whole bucket of baseballs is being thrown in your face all at once. Suddenly, your tiny universe is spinning out of control. As your perfect plans that you have constructed for yourself become derailed, you’re suddenly forced to stop and take stock in what your life is really about.
As much as I hate those moments as I am experiencing them, I find them to be the most poignant parts of my life. It’s at those moments that I can finally take stock in where I am going and where I want to be.
I’ve been stopping and thinking lately about where I am and versus where I’ve come. What do I have to show for my 5 years of being an adult? It was this self-reflection that caused me to find the filled pink journal that I had started writing in 10 years earlier
It was interesting to become acquainted with my former self. I was an overenthusiastic but painfully shy teenager navigating the treacherous social experience that is junior high and high school. The journal even went into my first semester of college. I began to read through every pitfall, every disappointed hope. As a kid who was teased by her peers I didn’t have the easiest path to adulthood, but I had made it so much harder with my angst! As a young teenager I agonized over whether people were actually my friends, whether so-and-so liked me, and despaired over my own awkwardness. As a high school student, I worried that I would never be dating material and wondered why I didn’t get asked to the dance. What seemed like the end of the world at the time was, in all actuality, incredibly petty. The discouraging thing about it all was that my journal reflected thousands of thoughts, thoughts wasted on the insignificant things in life.
Just as I was about to close the book in shame and regret, I stumbled upon the last entry. I was 18 years old–five years ago. I seemed to have hit an age where I had experienced some clarity. It read:
“Why did I even waste my time and space writing about things that didn’t matter? I should have actually put good things in here, things I’m not ashamed about remembering. Wow, if I could somehow go back in time, I would tell myself to GET A LIFE! I shouldn’t have obsessed so much about who I liked and how I looked, but rather focused on using time wisely. My teenage years were fun, but they could have been much better if I had just relaxed and stopped worrying all the time.”
18 year old self, you were right. You were right, and you still are. I realized I needed to take my own advice from the past and start enjoying life now. Have I already fallen into the same trap I did before–that cycle of worrying, fretting, regretting? Were my 20’s going to be just like my teenage years? Was I going to look back at them and wonder why I stopped myself from being happy, just like I did now looking back at my old journal?
The last paragraphs in the journal were my favorite to read. I addressed it to my future self.
“When I read this when I’m older, I want the future me to remember some things that I’m thinking of now, and to never forget them. Time makes you forget, it pushes your nose to the dirt sometimes. But I always want to be as much of a dreamer as I am now. I never want to lose that in my life. It’s my fire; it keeps me going when life gives me lemons (since it usually does).
“First, future self, I want you to keep the faith. Remember the thrill of the gospel when you were a little girl, and the powerful feelings you have felt. You know it’s true. You have felt it, and sense it, and know it. Hold tight to the knowledge and the faith.
“Second, remember your dreams. You want to be a journalist, you want to make your imprint on the world. One day, you hope you can publish a book. Don’t let life make you think you can’t do it. Anything is possible. It’s all up to application–don’t waste your God-given talents!
“Third, remember your family. Never ever abandon them. They are your lifeline.
“Fourth, remember to grow. Always continue to expand your mind and abilites. Stagnation is regression; it’s death while you’re still alive. Never reach a standstill. When you think you’re at the top, there’s still going to be another ridge to climb. Seek after knowlege, thirst for it. Make yourself a well-rounded, well-informed person. Expand your horizons. Travel the world. Meet people who are different than you. Never stop growing.
“Lastly, remember to enjoy life. It is a precious gift that should not be wasted. Don’t be discouraged if things aren’t going your way, it will get better. Just don’t let the small things get you down. Remember the bigger picture.
“Don’t be depressed if life didn’t turn out the way you had expected it to. Maybe you never found the One, maybe your dreams are lost. Don’t worry about it. That’s when you take a blank sheet of paper and start over and plan a brand-new course for yourself. Sometimes going on a new path can be exciting. You never know what or who you’ll find along the way.
“Well, journal, this is it. It’s been a tumultuous 5 years, but I’ve grown so much. Now I am ready to start a brand new chapter of my life. Remember me, and don’t lose sight of the girl you used to be… <3”
Thank you, past self. Somehow that was exactly what I needed to read.