A Letter to my 18 Year Old Self

With graduations, the end of school year, and a new season about to begin, I have felt that this letter really needed to be written. Not really even to myself, but for the other young women, young girls, and women out there. For all you “dears” out there. For you, because you may be like I have been in the past and think: what now, why me, how could this happen, what will my life become? I hope to be able to show you what could become from any circumstance and share with you what I would say to my younger self if I could.

Dear Sarah,

You are braver than you think. You are in a place in your life when you are looking ahead at the future and wondering what your life will become. You are thinking about future jobs, school, family, and experiences. You are thinking about LIFE. This life ahead of you probably looks like Mount Everest, you may be wondering how will you get it all done? When will you have time to check all the things off your list? Dear one, you will do amazing things, you will accomplish goals, meet amazing people, go wonderful places, you will have a life that is good. Your bravery will shine like a beacon in the night in some incredibly difficult circumstances and that bravery will show others what is possible.

Be a careful listener. There will be so many people who want to share their advice, opinions, and feedback. Put on some headphones and turn up the volume. The sooner you are able to listen to the still small voice inside of you and the very small number of people who speak life over you–the clearer your decisions, actions, and abilities will be. You can not be all things to all people. You only need to be your best self at any given moment. Most of what people will have to say, will be about THEM, not about you. The people who are able to speak life, wisdom, and necessary truth are the people you want to surround yourself with. You can love people from any length, but dear one, if they do not serve you, lift you, or have selfless intentions for what they say–receive it and then let it go with peace. This careful and cautious listening will help you be stronger, wiser, and give you the peace and joy you need to live your best life.

Have fun. You are technically a grown up now, but one of the biggest mistakes you could ever make is to stop having fun. Now, I don’t mean sow wild oats every day of your life. But, if there isn’t joy in your life, then what is the point? Find people who can make you laugh out loud. Do simple things that will bring you joy. Ask questions to cultivate fun. Your life is meant to be enjoyed. That doesn’t mean it wont be hard work, but if you look closely and cultivate a life that looks for joy all around you, there will be joy even in the work. Speaking of work, this isn’t the meaning of your life. Find something that you love so much that it doesn’t feel like “work” at all. Think outside the box of what “work” means. Work doesn’t always mean following plan A, to get to B, to retire at C. You can start out at D, take a left turn at M, and spend the end of your days at plan A. Live a life of joy that is centered around a life that you love, with people you enjoy, chasing experiences that are fun, and serve others recklessly. Sometimes serving can bring you the most surprising, uplifting joy of all.

Love what matters. The things you think are SO important now, will seem like very small things later. Some of the seemingly insignificant and simple things will some day feel like they matter the most. Do not worry yourself dear one over all of the dorm stuff, the first apartment stuff, the first house stuff, it is just stuff. Love experiences. Love people. Love serving. Love gratitude. Love your elders. Love your neighbor. Love the earth. Love God.

Tomorrow is not promised. That doesn’t mean you should live afraid. In fact, this is one reason to live your life fully, boldly, and with joy. Live each day in the present. Be present where you are, with who you are, and soak it up. The sunsets, the funny faces your friends are making when they see that funny thing, the “firsts” of your kids, your siblings, or a parent. If I had known, I would have spent more time reading and less time on my phone. I would have spent less time trying to make my house look perfect and spent more time experiencing new things. I would have snuggled my kids longer, loved my husband harder, and told my friends they were beautiful a thousand times over–if I had known how quickly it can all end. This dear one, is something I can tell you about, but you have to actually learn. Never stop learning so you can figure this out soon and live every moment like it is your last.

Give yourself grace. Forgiveness is one of the most beautiful things in the world. You are so hard on yourself though. You are doing your best dear one and you deserve all the grace just as much as the next person. Cut yourself some slack. The world will not end if that paper doesn’t get written. The world will not end if you accidentally back your car into something. The world will not end when you lock your keys in your car for the 20th time. The world will not end if your life isn’t perfect. Perfect doesn’t exist. Your life doesn’t have to be perfect to be beautiful. It’s usually the messy, muddled, crazy parts of life that make it the most beautiful.

Your circumstances don’t define you. Every day you have a choice, you have many actually. There will be days of good ones and days of bad ones. But the circumstances that you are placed in, at any given time in your life–they do not define you or the outcome. You have choices in those defining moments. You can define your life through your choices. That grace you just gave yourself for doing that thing? That thing you thought might wreck your life? It might end up being one of the best things that ever happens to you! Your perspective on things can change everything. Your perspective can shift your choices. This upside down way of thinking, actually isn’t crazy. It’s truth. God doesn’t call the equipped, he equips the called. So, no matter what mess you have found yourself in, or if you feel like life has planted you in some bad soil. Dear one, know that you aren’t actually planted, you were made to fly. All you have to do is leap. Leap out of the nest of your comfort zone, make the hard choice, make the choice that the still small voice is asking you to choose. Then fly like the brave soul you are!

Dear one, you have a beautiful, joyful, good life ahead of you. You are going to go out and do brave, wonderful, big things! You are going to do more of the things you dream of than you could ever imagine. What might seem to not make sense now, will work itself out in the end. You are beautiful, you are loved, and you have value. Go out and be your best self every day, and that dear one–is what a beautiful life is made of.

With love,

Your older and wiser self.

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