ten years later and still

i ran into my old journals today.

thanks to a challenge from my dad, i have a pretty good record of my life written by my own hand from 6th grade til college.

i picked up a journal just now, and rifled through a few pages. as my eyes skimmed, some of the words caught and held their attention. i ended up reading a good amount of my entries from when i was fourteen. 

it was so interesting; most sounded so naive and frivolous, and then all the sudden, there would be a profound little heartache in the middle. quickly mentioned but very precise and painful, like a puncture wound. then the frivolities of my superficial interactions with boys and school projects and how much i hated math would consume the next few entries. but here and there were little pricks of what i remember to be my real sorrows from that age. some which still affect me.

now, don't get me wrong: i was blessed to have an amazing childhood and adolescence. amazing.
especially understanding now what it could have been, i'm so grateful for what it was.
it was more fulfilling and wonderful than a lot of people have the opportunity to experience, and i feel nothing but gratitude. i have no right to complain. 

but like anyone else, there have been some difficult things i had to cope with, and as i read, my heart kind of broke for my younger self.
some entires were difficult to read, for no apparent reason.
a few times, my eyes glassed over with a couple of tears that didn't fall. 

just now as i was reading, i had the urge to go back in time and explain to my younger self a few things. so naturally, i figured i should write a letter. fourteen-year-old me is still in me somewhere; i'm sure she still needs to hear them.

dear 14, 

i've been reading your recent journal and have a few tidbits for you. i've listed them below. 

okay first off don't worry--literally, all the guys you're worried about now are gonna be married by the time you're 24, and not to you. so you won't have to worry about them anyway. 

eventually, you'll stop writing things like l8r and gr8 and g2g...and your writing will be much more palatable.

it appears that you have discovered and are now trudging through the awkward realm of interpersonal relationships and social interaction, especially with the guys. bravo. just so you know, awkward will always hover, but you'll learn to manage yourself better just by wading through it and learning from your mistakes. this is actually really good for you to learn now rather than later, though sometimes it kind of bites. i know.

pay attention to how you're hurting now, because those pains are a precursor to pains that you'll have later in life. pains that are deeper than what you feel now, but surprisingly of the exact same thread. it's really good that you're learning how to deal with them healthily now, so that you can deal with them in a similar manner when you're older and they're harder, but parallel in the intensity of how they affect you now.

it's good that dad told you to write one thing you're grateful for at the end of every day, because if you notice, there's a pattern. in between your observations of boys' hairstyles and the happenings of school assemblies, are the things you are most thankful for. those are the concepts that really explain how you are getting through this hard and often unspoken undercurrent. you frequently write how grateful you are for prayer, seminary, church, mom, friends.... this shows what's really going on, more than your daily account of life as a freshman in high school. though both the routine of daily life and the underlying values work hand in hand. always remember that. 

to ease your mind, i wish you could know this stuff now, but you'll learn it eventually. and you won't learn as easily if you think you already know it. 

24 (and no, that is not old)

i feel like i'll probably be writing a similar letter to my 24-year old self when i'm 44.
i'll probably laugh at my writing quirks then, too. 
some things just don't change.


--jeff * said...

i think this really is my favorite post you've ever written.
it's wonderful.

reasons that i can explain:

-i smork at the thought of you writing gr8 and l8r, because that is certainly NOT the kristin i now know.

-you observation that the pains and struggles you felt then are still the same ones you feel now, only deeper. interesting. #o.h.

-at the same time, even though a lot of those pains are still there and sometimes even greater, you also learn how to get through them better and deal with them.

-heck, i just love that you thought of writing to your 14-year old self in the first place.
and i appreciate that you shared it with us.

-i've never read much (/anything at all) from your 14-year old self, but this essay is proof that, yes, your writing will be come much more palatable.

-i like that you acknowledge that both the day to day routine stuff and the values around them work together and both are worth writing down.

-"you won't learn them as easily if you think you already know them."
dang brilliant.

-and other reasons.

Jenny said...

Great and therapeutic idea :) I've said it before, and I'll say it again, You have a gift of writing and do it so well; probably from years of practice, eh :) Its great to take time and reflect on where we've been and where we've come. Thanks for sharing this!

Brooke said...

Simply put...you are beautiful, friend! ;)

Krysten @ Why Girls Are Weird said...

Oh my gosh, wasn't 14 just so hard? I sometimes go back and read my own journals and sometimes I really miss my younger self. How nice it was to have your biggest problems be that your parents won't let you stay up till all hours of the night talking to some boy! Ah, it was so rough!

Now I totally want to dig out my old journals...

Lana said...

I love this. You're an excellent writer. It's definitely become more palatable. And 14 sucked. For me it was 14 years ago, but I was gawky, insecure, and felt like I was the complete antonym of cute. My mom used to say that one day I'd see myself for who I really was. She was right, but I had to learn who I was myself, no one could tell me. Which is precisely why I love your last line about not learning things if you already know them.

Anyway, loved this post. Thanks for sharing!