Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Writing a Letter to Me

A while ago I wrote a post about things I wish I would have known before I had kids. I'm sure that in about ten years from now, I'll be writing a post about things I wish I would have known when I had young children. That's just the way life rolls, I guess, always learning things that would have been so nice to know yesterday.

I know this is so lame, but as I was mopping the floor yesterday (I do most of my thinking when I'm scrubbing toilets and mopping floors) and even though I'm not a huge country music fan, I started thinking about a country song (yes, very cliché) called, "If I Could Write a Letter to Me." It's a thought-provoking song and Brad Paisley is one of the country sings who isn't too twangy or whiney so I can handle his music. I started thinking about all the things I would write to my teenage self in a letter. I immediately had a flood of advice and regrets that I wish I could pass on to my younger self.

I wish I would have been easier on my parents, realizing that they were stumbling through parenthood just as I was stumbling through adolescence. So many times I thought they were deliberately trying to ruin my life without realizing how much decisions you make as a parent are just shots in the dark while you keeping your fingers crossed.

I wish I wouldn't have dated boys so seriously. I laugh when I remember my mom, in her Chilean accent, suggesting that I "be like a butterfly and try all the flowers!" I had the rest of my life ahead of me to be married! Why in the world was I acting like I was married to these boys when I was 13 and 14 years old?

I would have treasured my time with my grandparents and parents, realizing that I would spend the vast majority of my life with them living far away, or with them having had passed away.

I wouldn't have been so rude to that boy that wrote me love notes and kept asking me out. I could have still been gracious and kind in letting him know that I wasn't interested. How awkward it was to run into him 10 years later as an adult. He being just as sweet as ever, and me feeling like a rat for the terrible way I had treated him.

I wish I wouldn't have fretted so much about what others thought of me, constantly trying to fit in. Some of the people I admire the most are those who march to the beat of their own drum and aren't afraid to be different.

I would have told myself not to beat myself up about not always getting the best grades in school. Looking back, I'm glad that I developed other hobbies and athletic interests other than focusing solely on academics. Even as the chronic B and C student, I was still able to get an excellent college education and career that I love, while still coming away with hobbies to carry me through my adult years. (Yes, I realize many will disagree with this one)

Knowing now the struggles and challenges my siblings have had to face in their adult years, I would have tried harder to develop relationships that would carry us through these difficult times.

I would open my eyes to the constant sacrifices my parents were making for me on a daily and even hourly basis for me.

I would have gone on more early morning jogs with my dad and had more talks with my mom.

And last, but certainly not least, I would have taken tweezers to those mangy things I called eyebrows and a curling iron to that mop of hair!

Last night I was at a Relief Society meeting that talked about the importance of journaling and I realized that in a sense I can write a letter to myself through journaling in hopes that my children will read it and learn from my many mistakes. I can't do anything to change my past but I can certainly try to help make my childrens' pasts ones with fewer regrets and wishes for do-overs. For me, my blog has become my primary source of journaling.

It was brought up that many of the experiences we face are not for ourselves, but for our posterity. I shouldn't always think that my experiences are all about me. They may not have anything to do with me, but more to do with my children and grandchildren and the lessons they will glean from them.

I recently read a book that recounted the experiences of the Willie and Martin handcart companies. As I read it, I thought many times how the trials and unimagineable tradgedies they endured were not only meant to be sanctifying for them, but for those who decades later, would read their personal accounts and be strengthened by their remarkable faith and courage. I know that reading the accounts of their experiences and sacrifices was life-changing for me.

If you have any advice you'd write to your youngerself, I'd love to hear it.


Cristina said...

What a great post Rita. I love reading your writing, you are such a good writer. That is such a good idea, I will have to write a letter to myself too. :) Love ya!

Cher said...

great post.
teenagers always try so hard to be cool and fit in. it's kind of sad. the ones who don't try and who are just themselves are always the cool ones that everyone else is trying to be like. :)
maybe it takes maturity? or really good self esteem? i know as i get older i don't care, i can be myself. so for me it was just maturity.