This is something I've been thinking about writing for a couple years, since my friend, "the park wife" did similar and challenged others to do the same.http://www.theparkwife.com/2011/01/22/letter-to-my-high-school-self/ Well, and there is that song that will inevitably be stuck in my head all day now. Better late than never though, right? So here goes, a letter to myself at my high school graduation.
Looking back on the last 15 years there are so many things I want to say. You are walking across the stage tonight, receiving your high school diploma. This is important, it will open doors for you. But that ceremony isn't as scary as everyone seems to make you think. After tonight, your life will change. In just a few months you will start college at Southwest Missouri State. This is where you will really start developing into you. Your roommate will have almost nothing in common with you...and will spend the next several years being your best friend. Share dreams with her, although I have to warn you, this is a friendship that will fade. That's ok, you will learn from it and grow. Your sophomore year, that strangely quiet girl that moves in will eventually be the first friend you call with the biggest news of your life, and the friend you tell all the little things to, as well. Don't be afraid to be yourself, you'll overcome that incredible shyness quickly realizing that the world isn't quite as cruel and hateful as high school was.
Tonight, enjoy hanging out with your high school friends. It's the last time you'll ever do that. And take time this summer to hang out with Granny and Pa. Those stories of the past...ask them to share and right them down. Years from now, you'll want to do a living history presentation of the great depression and those stories would add so much to it. Hug them, love them, because they will be gone before you know it...and ask for roast, fried chicken and cinnamon roll making lessons...simple treats that will take years to get and then you still won't be sure its right.
When you get to college and your professors ask what you want to do with your degree, don't hesitate to decide on interpretation. You've been shy all your life but will discover in college that it is being in front of an audience that makes you happy. Go for it. You'll be offered a job in Wyoming after graduation, trust me, you couldnt handle the winters and it is ok to decline. When offered the seasonal job in Arkansas, realize that this is where God has placed you. You'll learn many inter iew tips in college, you'll forget them before every interview. Its ok, trust that instinct. God will lead you to a mountain in Arkansas. I know you think you are all grown up now, but you aren't. This is where you will really grow up. You'll have your heart broken, you'll stand in awe at an Easter Sunrise service, you'll draw close to God. These are the easiest years of your life. Stop occassionally, smell the flowers.
As you go out on your own, realize your parents have given you wings to fly. Don't forget that as you make your mark, they'll never stop supporting you, even when you ask for a flying squirrel costume, nowhere near halloween. That support will be there through everything. Plan less, do more. Don't ever let the weather cancel your plans...just allow extra time for backpacking trips in a heavy rain. Double check those packs before every trip, although the memories you'll make when Dad brings extra tents are worth him carrying the extra pounds a few miles. Take more pictures, they tell the story of you. And when you get that call that Dad was just in a bad accident, just stop and pray. He'll make it, but will live with pain every day.
I want you to realize those dreams of where you'll be in ten years, fifteen years from now will shape you, but that isn't where you will be. Your dreams will change with you. You will get the opportunity to do a presentation at a national conference, and you'll feel like you've conquered the world. A year later you will put the rest of those carer dreams on hold. Don't worry, those little eyes watching your every move, those little feet following you around everywhere...that will be what begins shaping your everyday dreams. Go with it. Make new dreams.
And back to that dating thing. Don't stress over it. You'll be helping your best friend pack up and she'll convince you to sign up on a dating website. You'll think she's crazy but a year later you will be walking down the aisle, becoming Mrs to the one person that will be your everything. Cherish these times.
If I could tell you to change something that I know you will do, it would be to listen more, take notes. You will find that "family" means more than that group of people you were born to be with. Family will be a tight knit group sitting in a Bible study in Yellowstone. Family will be the friends shoulders you cry on when your grandparents pass away. Family will be that amazing group of "big brothers" you get in Arkansas.
Above all else, serve God. It's ok to cry when you are sitting in those services where you just feel God. And always wear coveralls to the sunrise service at Stout's point. Take notes during the girls Bible study..the newly married and new moms will teach you many things you will often refer to in those early days of marriage and parenthood.
Your life will be fun, you will meet many amazing people, and yes, even you will find your soul-mate. Enjoy it. Photograph it. Love it.
From fifteen years in the future,