If I could write a letter to 15-year-old me, there are just a few things I would say.
They say time flies, and this letter is a testament to just how true this is. After reading through the countless journal entries I wrote from Freshman-Sophomore year, I was overwhelmed by all of the things I know now, that I wish have known back then.
Dear 15-year-old Laney,
I have just a few things to say to you, and trust me when I say these things are important. So sit back, relax, and try your very hardest to put down your phone for just a minute and listen.
Let me break this down for you:
Girls: This weird stage of competition you have drowned yourself in will soon be over and you will realize that it is all a waste of time. Money has a weird way of creating divisions. Use what you have to bless others, rather than flaunt your own. Girls will be mean. Gosh, they will be vicious. Don’t let the opinions of man keep you awake at night. There will be fights and trust me, I know how much you hate conflict. There will be times when you think you’ve completely lost a friend, but don’t worry the ones that will prove themselves true will still be around even today. Heck, you live with one of them. (Get seriously excited about that.) Be a friend to everyone, regardless of clique or “status.” By the way, get over that whole thing really fast. Build others up and let your friends know how much they matter. Maybe if you tell them now, they won’t go searching for their worth in dangerous habits later on. Oh, but when they do (sorry, but it’s nearly inevitable) stand by them. You’ll make your fair share of your own kind of mistakes later on. Spend more time with the ones that truly care for you, because you will soon realize that the innocence you have in this part of life will be something you can never get back once it’s gone. Laugh at the hard times and embrace each other through the heartaches, the bad grades, and the mistakes. People will let you down in the real world, but while you’re here…you might as well make it worthwhile.
Sports: Coaches will be coaches. The good, the bad, and the ugly will build you up, tear you down, and kick you while you’re there if you let them. Fight back. Do. Not. Give. Up. Those morning practices may not seem worth it now, but I would give almost anything to be in that locker room lacing up those shoes one more time. Appreciate the tough love and the relationships you will build with your teammates. Embrace the long nights you spend together on the buses back from games, and ask each other the hard questions. These girls are your family. Together you will grow, love, and laugh your way through school, so forget the games and the things you all will say when you are upset, and allow this to be the greatest time in your life. Push through the feelings of being “burnt out” and just play. Life doesn’t give you another four years like these ever.
Boys: This year, you will start the greatest, longest, and hardest emotional roller coaster I hope you ever have to go through. You will love more, hurt more, and feel more than you ever have. You will learn lesson after lesson about who you are, who he is, and what you two can be together. The boy you turn down for him…well I’ll just let you know how that goes later. Very soon, you will experience heartbreak for the first time in your life. You will cry yourself to sleep and question God and his purpose for this time. You will soon realize your fault in investing so much feeling, time, and energy into this relationship and neglecting others while doing so. Silly girl, don’t you know you’re a freshman? You have so much life left to live…and don’t worry he will have your heart for another 4 years…it is not worth crying about now. I look back and want to tell you more, but I like the way things turned out. You’ll later realize things you wish would have been different, but when it comes down to it I can’t help feeling like I wouldn’t change a thing. So…I’m going to let you live this one out.
Family: Please spend more time with them. Love on your siblings more than you love on anyone else. As you experience more of what life has to offer day after day, they are watching your every move. Use precious language when speaking to them. Shower them with compliments and serve them, as I now know that the world will do everything but. Make home their favorite place to be. When asked to drive them all over town and shuttle them like a taxi driver, grin and bear it. These times in the car are ones that you will wish for on the hard days when all you want is home. Just when you think they will be young forever, you will suddenly turn around one day and realize that you all have grown up. Laugh at the stupid things they do and embrace them when they mess up. Patiently wait for them to see your point of view, and understand that you can be wrong too. They will mess up. You will get mad. They will hurt your feelings. But most of all, they will be your best friends. Practice confidence. Walk humbly. Display weakness. Embrace change. Encompass everything they need in a big sister, but know that one day you will be the one leaning on them when the days get tough. You will learn more valuable lessons from them than they ever will from you. They have more love for you than you will ever understand. They are your teammates. You are stuck with each other. Do not ever take that for granted. As for Mom and Dad, never miss a chance to let them know you appreciate them. Watch how Dad loves Mom and look for a boy who is just as stubborn as he. Mimic his work ethic and watch how he loves the Lord. Mom will be your best friend for the rest of your life. She will drop anything to spend time with you and they will both go to great lengths to make your every dream come true. She will hold you when you cry through breakups and you will pick each other off the floor when you can’t stop laughing. And above all else, listen to what they have to say. You will never like hearing the words, “I told you so,” but they will say it…time and time again.
As for life, start by dreaming bigger. Understand that after these four years of worrying you still won’t know what you want to be or whom you want to be with. You will experience more in this period of your life than you ever thought imaginable. Love on people. Go out of your way to spend time with the friends and family you care about. Laugh more, eat less, and don’t hold yourself to such unrealistic expectations. Read, read, read, and soak in the lessons and stories you hear from your elders. Keep an open mind. Share the deep stuff and be vulnerable to accountability. Stop trying to take control, and let God do His thing. First and foremost, fall in love with the Lord before you ever try to fall in love with anyone else. The world will soon prove itself to be a messy, messy place, but do not let your standards be swayed. Put your phone down. Be in the moment. Get involved. Write every day. Stop comparing yourself. Learn to cook. And get ready, because you will one day be sitting here…completely surrounded by the ones you love. You will have the best friend anyone could ever imagine, a family who supports your every move, a school you love, and a faith so sincere that makes life so sweet. Because when it all comes down to it, that is really all that matters.
Your 20-year-old Self
Special thanks to Miss Corinne Day for braving the cold for these pictures. Without you, this would not be possible.