This week, my littlest sister turned 11 years old. I can’t believe how fast she’s grown! I remember finding out my mom was pregnant when I was 16, shocked and a little upset that this newcomer would be throwing off the balance of our already established family (after all, we were a family of 4 and that was pretty much perfect). But oh, how wrong I was. And I’m so glad! She was born and I loved her, doted on her and had a blast watching her grow from a spunky toddler to a big-hearted young lady. I can’t wait to see what big plans she has in store for the world and what life will bring as she matures. As I reflected on her big day this week, I couldn’t help but wonder….what do I wish I had known at 11??
Hey 11-year old self,
It’s me. The grown-up version of you. You’re much older now (28 to be exact), though really not that much taller. That’s alright because after some struggles, you’ve really come to love and accept who you are. You’re even a fan of your freckles and curly hair! (Who knew that day would come??) I bet you didn’t know it at the time but Harry Potter turned out to be a pretty big deal! (They even made movies out of the 7 books J.K. Rowling wrote! Amazing times we live in.) And, in a crazy turn of events, you’re going to have a littler sister one day (she’ll show up about 6 years from now) and she’s going to be just as obsessed with Harry Potter as you are.
So, you’re in 5th grade huh? You’re probably pretty bummed because, from what I recall, that’s the year your best friend moved away. But, don’t worry! You’re going to become best friends with somebody else in your tight-knit class and you will have SO many laughs together, all the way until graduation day! Also, this is the year you end up getting glasses. I know, I know you think they’re dorky but you MUST wear them. One day, you’ll have really cute ones! You won’t even hardly want to wear contacts eventually because you’ll end up liking your new glasses so much.
Right now, you don’t think you’re pretty and that feeling is going to last for awhile. You’re going to have reservations down the road and a great deal of self-doubt as to whether you’ll EVER feel pretty. Well, little miss, I am here to assure you that yes, you are freakin’ beautiful and you’re just going to morph into this lovely young woman before you know it! (And, don’t forget, you’re going to dislike that you look so young but you’ll come to realize it’s a blessing one day.)
You don’t care much for boys because you know there will be lots of time for that one day. I can’t lie darling girl, you’re going to get your heart broken and you’ll break some hearts along the way too. After your most heart-wrenching breakup, you’ll wonder if love is even within your reach. Then, one day, somebody is going to carry you when you feel too weak, reminding you that yes, it’s real, lovely, and true. He’s going to be quite wonderful and, over time, you’re going to become an incredibly strong woman. (In large part, thanks to this amazing man and all the ways he has continuously shown you how much you are capable of.)
In all of this, I urge you to really, really love life. Fill your cup up with experiences and adventures. With laughter and beautiful memories. Though I don’t wish to frighten you, you’ll lose somebody extremely close to you and although you have read the stories and seen the movies, you will be shaken by the reality of how this awakens you to your very core. This loss will precede that difficult breakup and you will transition into the darkest period of your life. But, never stop moving. Yes, you must heal and recover from this achingly painful time but I implore you to push through. And, as I am a witness, I know that you do. You are resilient.
So, 11-year old self, your life will be anything but a walk in the forest but just know, you’ll reach the other side. Never give up on that huge heart of yours. It is going to do incredible good during your time on this Earth. Each day you wake up, incorporate fun wherever you can. Don’t be afraid to fail at your dreams because it’s better to have tried than to have lived a life wondering, “What if?.” You are smart, talented and valued in this great, big world. Find peace with your unique design, utilize your God-given talents and love like there’s no tomorrow.
28-year old Heather