29 September 2009

This is my response.

My 15-year-old self mailed a letter to my 21-year-old self on the occasion of my 21st birthday. I opened the letter one week and one day early. You would do it too. How often does 15-year-old Laura send letters to the future-- NOT VERY OFTEN. So, don't judge me for opening it early.

This is my response.

Dear Laura,

You think it's some great feat that I made it to my 21st birthday. You think I'm a superhuman for making it. Breaking news: it wasn't some great feat. And actually, it would've taken some great event for me NOT make it. I would've had to stop eating. Or stop sleeping. Or jump off cliffs with rocks at the bottom. Or walk into the center of an intersection when the light is green. And like you, I'm happy. Very happy. So, I didn't do any of those things.I'm happy because you're happy. Your fault; you started it.

I think about you a lot. You think about me a lot too. I think you have high hopes for me. I feel the pressure to fill your expectations. You feel pressure too. You feel the pressure to become me. Don't. Avoid feeling pressure of any sort. Don't create artificial stresses for yourself. I am who I am. You are who you are. And get this-- we're more the same than you ever dreamed possible. You think I'm an improved version of yourself. I'm not. You're disappointed, I know, but it's a good thing that I am a little bit of who you are, that I haven't changed much in the last five years. You are something awesome, especially for your age. You're more on-the-ball than you know, you're more intelligent than you think, you're more mature than I am, you're more self-aware than any 15-year-old. You're a lot of who I want to be and yet, sometimes I'm afraid I'm degenerating from where you are. I like you. Let's be friends. You make me want to be better.

That being said, I do need to tell you to take a deep breathe. Just stop and live. No rush. No pressure. No stress. Enjoy. Do something stupid-- I can say that because I know you won't. And for goodness sakes, just enjoy those roses that he sent to you. Don't worry, you won't ever see him again. So feel free to enjoy the flowers-- no guilt. You're in high school for goodness sakes. The world does NOT rest on your shoulders. You don't need to be perfect. Relax the whole perfectionist kick. You have a good few years ahead of you. A couple of words from someone who has been there:

When you're cooking for the judge, pick up the chef knife instead of the serrated knife. It will be the difference between silver and gold.

Hold his hand. It's not a bad thing to do.

Don't make hard-fast plans. You'll be disappointed. Go with the flow and things will turn out better than you could have planned.

Don't cry when you fail that math test. Laugh. It's a better reaction to almost all things in life.

Mostly though, just do what you're doing. You're living right and loving life.

Oh yes, and always drive plenty far behind the car in front of you on the freeway. Do not sing at the top of your lungs while you're cruising, especially when you're going to the airport in August of 2007. Pay attention while you drive that day.

Thanks for your letter. You know, it really made my day, my week, my month.You'll have hard days, but I wouldn't take those from you. Give mom a hug for me. Give her one every day.

I love you.



Amy said...

Laura, I love you!! Wasn't high school interesting though. I've looked backed a couple of times and realized the same thing that you concluded to. We had a good high school life. I love you so much!!! I look up to you a lot.

Christie Shumway said...

Happy Birthday! How similar we are. I opened a letter last year on my 20th birthday from my 16-year-old self. I was so excited about it, probably more than I was about anything else that day. If only I hadn't been distracting you when you were driving that day in August 2007..... I hope you're well!

Marilyn Lewis said...

Laura, I want you to come and teach a lesson to my YW and give them all the wise counsel you gave your 15 year old self!

Natalie said...

You brought tears to my eyes with reminding yourself to give Mom a hug everyday.

Julianne said...

Me, too. Tears to my eyes. I love that thought. Thanks, Laura.

Allyson said...

Laura this is beautiful. Your life is beautiful. You are beautiful.