Friday, August 1, 2014

A Love Note to My 14 Year Old Self...

Happy 14th birthday, Chris!

I'm sure this will be strange to hear but 20 years from now you will be grateful for these awkward teen years and the struggles you are facing...even the ones you don't want to talk to anyone about. Twenty years from now you'll have much different ideas about what is important because you don't live in Hawaii, you didn't go on a 2 year mission, you don't live next door to your childhood best friend, and you don't have the kids, car and job that you keep wishing for when you play MASH.
But hang on, because the twists and the turns that will smack you in your face over the next 20 years are the gifts that will fill your life with substance.  
Twenty years from now you won't be a beach volleyball star because your life is going to take a much different course. The air you breathe in and out every single day will have a much deeper meaning to you. It's easy to take for granted now, and that's okay. But this one minute detail won't be minute at all. You will feel grateful and value every single breath you take. 

I am proud of you, Chris.  I know you don't hear that a lot.  I know you're frustrated and the things you do sometimes seem like background noise when you try to share something. But trust me, you're parents are proud of you, too. They're paying attention but they are raising SIX kids -- sometimes more than that with all of the friends they welcome into your home, which seems really annoying at times. But watching your siblings and their friends will teach you so much about life. You'll learn from their victories and their losses. 

Your siblings and your parents will be some of your biggest cheerleaders. You'll laugh about the things that made you cry, scream, kick and pull eachother's hair. Believe it or not, your siblings will actually apologize to you for playing games like Poltergeist, making you "run to the light" because they couldn't see you. Though sibling torture will make you wish you were an only child more often than not, you'll grow up and realize how great you had it. So suck it up because these things help build your character. 

As the youngest of six, you're already honing a major super power.  Listening.  Listening is an amazing skill that will serve you life, love and all things important.  One day you will use this skill to start your own business and be part of helping other people start their business.  Listening will take you places you can't imagine because through this simple act you will learn how to communicate, hear an idea and help someone transform that idea into something greater.  

Listening will also serve you well through the great losses in your life.  You're scared of having a photographic memory but if you embrace it, especially during the moments in life that you want to remember, you'll be able to play those as easily as popping in your favorite movie. And about that, it's okay to admit that you love The Last Dragon without shame. Embrace the things that make you different from your friends because, Chris, this is the good stuff

Your parents tell you that your grandparents won't be around forever and sometimes you roll your eyes.  But they're right.  I'm telling you this because I want you to enjoy the time you have with them. The stories.  The card games. The puzzles. Ask them questions about their life. Ask them WHY they can cook 50 different types of meals only using potatoes -- there's a reason.  Ask them everything you want to ask them because when you're older, you'll want to know these things. You'll want to know EVERYTHING about them.

Keep drawing and stop throwing away everything that isn't perfect. You don't have to be perfect. Life is messy and the messy is what makes it great. So keep giving your family the cards that you draw for them. One day, even though it doesn't seem like a big deal now, they'll each tell you how much it meant. 

And here's a big secret I'm going to share with you. Twenty years from now it won't be weird to love a girl. You won't feel like you have to choose between what you think God wants for you and being true to yourself, because you'll realize that you're living the life you were meant to live. Seriously. Twenty years from now you'll have met the girl of your dreams and you'll be planning a wedding in Hawaii. And guess what? Your family will be behind you 100%...even your parents -- especially your parents.

You will grow up to be exactly who you are meant to be. So buckle your seatbelt, Chris, and get ready for the bumps in the road ahead. Smile and laugh and hold on tight when you fly over the hills and your stomach drops. Because twenty years later, your life keeps getting better.

Much love,
You at 34