Sunday, July 2, 2017

An open letter to my 15-year-old self

Dear Bailey,

Hi. :) This is you, 17 years in the future. You write a blog now and you're sitting here on your boyfriend's couch googling (that term will make more sense in about two years) writing prompts, and one that you came across is the idea to write an open letter to your 15-year-old self. 

That seemed intriguing to me/you, so I thought I'd roll with it and see what I might have to say to myself/you in the past. It might not "make a difference," but then again, it might, to present me. 

So let's see. 15...So you live in St. Louis. You're a sophomore. You have braces, and you tend to go for the glow-in-the-dark bands because that's just plain fun. You've never been kissed, not even close. You have a sizable crush on Devin. You're on the track team, which was a brave thing to do. You also did the pit orchestra for the musical. You've really put yourself out there this year, even though it's only your second year in this new school, this new city, this new state, new friends, new everything. Good for you. 

Well I can go ahead and tell you that you're moving again next year, because you already know that. You know that Dad's going to finish his schooling at seminary and he'll get his assignment for his year-long vicarage placement. I won't tell you where, though, because that's cheating and you'll find out soon enough anyway. 

Bails, more boys have crushes on you than you think. They'll tell you eventually, after the fact. Inconvenient, I know, but it'll feel good to hear it all the same. 

I know you won't believe me, so I won't consider this a big reveal of your future, but you will eventually like chick flick movies. I know you haaaaaate them now, but someday they'll actually be your go-to genre. 

I know. 

You're also going to wear dresses. 

And make up. 

I know. 

You're going to do some things you didn't think you'd ever do, but some things about you will never change. 

Right now you're having a hard time getting along with your brother, but that won't last forever. In fact, your rough patch with him is gonna end pretty soon and you guys are gonna be great again. 

Life is going to feel like a swing from one extreme to its opposite, to be honest, a lot of the time. There will be seasons that you'll be totally at ease, going with the flow, and then there will be times when your anxiety turns everything into something to fear. You'll be really stressed and over-scheduled for months, and then all of a sudden you'll be bored. Some of this is your Brewer blood, some of it's your personal chemistry, some of it's just being human. 


But here's something I can tell you. You're, like, super tough. (You also haven't kicked your habit of using "like" as conversational filler at the ripe age of 32.)


But seriously, though. On some of your hardest, darkest days, those are the days, Bailey Kathleen, that you're going to pull through with the most gladiator strength. I'm from your future, I've lived it, so I can tell you this for sure. 

I feel like I'm probably frightening you, talking about dark days and anxiety and make up. Let's talk about some of the good things coming your way. 

Bails, you're gonna have some of the BEST people come into your life. I won't tell you their names, because I know how much you love surprises, but you also know how hard it is for you/me to keep secrets, so I am going to give you initials:

N, M, C, C, L -- to name abbreviate a few. 

And A. 

You're gonna whine a lot about the homework -- like, a lot -- but you're gonna love college. All that self-consciousness of being the new kid (twice! Agh!) in high school is going to melt right off of you. Like buttah, my sweet girl. Like buttah on the hottest Kansas day you can imagine, disappearing into the crevices of a perfect ear of corn. 

In fact, this shedding of shyness is going to turn into a full on talking-to-strangers epidemic and it's going to serve you in some great ways, so never ease up on that urge to mingle. Just go for it. Always go for it and enjoy the heck out of it!

Oh! Those DC Talk CDs you have? Hootie and the Blowfish? Selena? 

Guess what? You still have all of those. And they're hardly scratched. Pretty cool, huh?

You're a music FREAK, and concerts are now your favorite thing. 

You also still have your troll doll collection, but you're thinking of selling it. 

I'll let it remain a mystery whether you're going to kiss your crush, Devin, but I will tell you that he is going to do something very sweet for you that will give you a story to tell for a lifetime. 


Bails, very, very, very little in your life is going to feel chronological, or logical. You're going to feel different a lot. You're going to love that a lot of the time, sometimes even feel arrogant about it, but wade cautiously into such waters. When you isolate yourself too much into being one-of-a-kind, you can find yourself feeling very alone. 

When you start to feel pangs (hint: you'll feel these around your mid-twenties) to join into seemingly boring group activities, go for it. We were made for community. Just trust me on this. You won't lose Bailey by being in a group. You need those other people. 

Anyway, almost everything is going to feel a little off. OK, fine. A LOT off. Prom, graduations, dating, your career. I mean, I hardly even need to tell you this. You're already in your third school district/state, and you're only 15, for crying out loud. 

Oh, speaking of crying, you're gonna become a cryyyyyBABY. But you've got some time. The waterworks won't kick in until after college. 

You're going to look around, over and over, and you're going to feel like everyone else has a schedule, a plan, reinforcements, and that you don't. 

If I can tell you one thing, though, it's this: you have all of those things, too. They just may not seem so obvious. But in hindsight, they will look like the mightiest of mighties. They'll be different from everyone else's, but they'll be yours. And you'll get to tell the stories of how these mighties landed in your life -- the people, the experiences, the connections. You'll love telling stories so much you'll decide to write as a hobby. 

Yeah, I know. Weird. 

Like I said, life isn't going to seem logical. So buckle up, Bucket.* Be open to what can come your way, even if it seems unfair, or scary. Your prom may not look like anyone else's prom, but it's an experience you can have if you want to at least try, and let me just suggest that more often than not you should do what you can to have an experience rather than wonder what it would have been like to have one. (And hey, Devin might be involved in that prom thing, so maybe you should go after that). 

All righty, I think I've talked your ear off long enough, and you're probably a little freaked out reading something from the future, so I'll sign off so you can go process that. 

Your older, still blonde, still cat-obsessed Self

*For those who don't know, this is my Dad's nickname for me, since birth. Bucket, like a bailing bucket, to bail water. Like Bailey. 

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