Multiple sclerosis, Uncategorized, What was I thinking?

Dear Me

If I could tell the young me anything, it would be to stay strong.

And to stay away from certain boys, of course. And to not get that really short bob, although it did come in handy when playing The Artful Dodger in Oliver. But still. Not that young me would have listened to any of it. I was eager impetuous, driven obsessed, creative mentally unstable, and curious boy crazy.

A little inspiration from The Park Wife prompted me to think of the advice I would impart to a 14-year-old me, if she would listen:

Dear Jennifer,

Never underestimate the power of flexibility. Martha Graham didn't live to be 96 because she was sedentary.

I know you are so very confused right now. Life is hectic, ever-changing. Get used to that, and try to enjoy the ride. Observe everything, and let in as much that is interesting and provocative as possible.

Just to assure you, life turns out OK. You aren’t a crack-addled crazy lady with a million cats living in a trailer somewhere in Lonoke County. You will wind up loving what you’ve become (despite it all) and embracing the little corner of the world you’ve carved out for yourself. It won’t always be easy, but it’s better that way because you love a challenge and a chance to prove yourself.

I can’t tell you everything about what is in store for you (which I know kills you, girl who has to know EVERYTHING), but these are the main points:

Trust your talent. You’ll soon find that you have a knack for drama, and not just the usual teenage, hormone-driven kind. Chase that with gusto. It will become your refuge.

Apply yourself. That PSAT score was no fluke. And when Smith College says it’s interested, don’t get hung up on the fact that it’s girls-only. Remember, Sylvia Plath is a graduate – and she “eats men like air.”

In a similar vein, stop looking in the wrong places for attention. You don’t need a boy to validate you. I’d love to spare you some of the heartache you will endure in these heady years that await you. But those experiences will be invaluable because they are the only way you’ll discover what is important to you. (Here’s a hint – it’s not a guy in a fast car.)

Cherish the times. Your fractured family will heal, but in ways you could never expect. Never forget those moments, no matter how un-Norman Rockwell they are, that make your family what it is.

Don’t be rash. When you feel as though your world is collapsing in on you, take a deep breath or 20. Don’t get caught up in the crazy. This will have long-term implications for you.

Grow a backbone. Don’t worry so much about what others think about you or trying to fit in. You are different, in the best of ways. You will wind up at a crossroad several times over. Think with your head as well as your heart. Trust that things happen for a reason, and embrace the other path that you will take when life seemingly doesn’t go your way.

Hold tight to friends. You will feel unmoored some of the time, especially when there isn’t a guy to latch onto. Reach out to those people you may have lost touch with. Remember that growing up doesn’t mean growing apart.

Let school shape your worldview. You love theater and AP English. And even history. Make what you do in those areas count. They will play a big part in your future.

Follow your bliss. You know what this means – never stop dancing. And when your Dad says you should move to New York, don’t shrug it off because you are afraid of failing. Just go already!

And learn Spanish, dammit. Sure, that pinata you make in class is great. But being able to say you are a polyglot is even better.

3 thoughts on “Dear Me”

  1. Great post. I wish I could tell my young self some of the same. Now I just need my 29-year-old self to listen so I don’t feel the same way at 45.

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