Dear Fourteen-Year-Old Annie,
I am pulling a Back to the Future and throwing caution to the space–time continuum wind so I can write you a letter. Don’t be alarmed.
First, congratulations on passing your driver’s license test. You will forever like to randomly bring up in conversations how you can get your driver’s license at age fourteen in North Dakota. What can I say? You have a lot of North Dakota pride. It’s a good thing; don’t worry about it.
Second, congratulations on being a freshman in high school. I know, it sounds awful. And having three more years of high school sounds like an incredibly long time, but it’s really not. It will go by quickly. You will make a lot of smart decisions, like taking college classes junior and senior year. It will seem like a hassle when you are negotiating how to make your schedule work and when you are hurrying to drive from the college back to school in time for your 8:50 class. You will be late every time, so don’t speed. You will still get there.
Since I am writing you from the future, let me just give you some advice. Don’t roll your eyes. I know, I’ve been where you are. Actually, I’ve been exactly where you are. I am you. You’d think this really wouldn’t be that hard to get.
Anyway, onto some advice. Stop wearing that same sweatshirt. And just buy a purse. Please, please stop using that cellphone holder that clips into your belt. It was never a good idea.
And that boy you’re dating? You will break up several times and get back together several times, but in the end, it doesn’t work out. And trust me; it is so for the better. You are a lot happier without him. Spend more time with your friends, invest in your friendships. Some of your friends will stay your friends, others will leave and even though you think they will be your friend for your entire life, they won’t. Some friends are only around for certain seasons of your life, but I won’t let you know who they are. Instead, cherish all of your friends. Forgive them and ask for forgiveness, for everything. I promise you that you cannot even remember whatever little things you are mad about right now. You’ll have friends who ask you to be a bridesmaid, so save up some money for dresses, and spend lots of time loving them through breakups and celebrations.
Also, love your family. Don’t ever feel like a loser when you spend Tuesday nights at home watching Gilmore Girls with them. The series will eventually come to an end and you will cry, but you will love all the time you spend with your family. They are the ones who will be there for you no matter what, so treat them well. Hug often. And take more pictures together, even though Mom and your brother never want to take pictures.
Even though you will become a strong believer in never having regrets, let me tell you, you will regret not going on the school trip to Washington, D.C. You will forever want to go, so just ask your mom. You can make it work somehow. Say yes to all experiences. You will get the chance to go to Africa, even though your mom won’t want you to at first. Say yes to all preaching opportunities and a call to ministry. You will have doubts, but take them to God. He can handle your doubt.
Maybe you will not be happy when you read this because I cannot tell you how it all turns out. I can tell you this much: you will attend MidAmerica Nazarene University. When you are a senior in college, you will still not be dating anyone. Even though a lot of people around you will be getting engaged, cherish the freedom you have right now. Spend these next years learning about yourself and growing. You will like who you become when you are twenty-one. Not every day, mind you, but stop being so hard on yourself. And a majority of things you’re worried about right now? You will try to pinpoint what those things were and you won’t even be able to remember. So, take a lesson from me: enjoy every moment.
And you’ll develop a great work ethic, but don’t feel pressure to work so hard. You will get enough hours and work enough, so slow down a little.
You will end up doing things you could never imagine. Spoiler: you will spend your twenty-first summer in London. I know, don’t freak out. You will be scared to go, but it will end up being one of the best decisions you’ve ever made. You will make good friends and meet people, but maybe don’t go so overboard with the fish and chips.
Oh, yeah. It’s weird that you will wear rubber boots to make a fashion statement, but I won’t tell you not to wear them. They help you become who you are. You will develop style through it. People will make comments and think you are weird, but smile because you are awesome. Those people will delete you as a friend on Facebook, but there are more people who are rooting for you than are against you. Also, you will think it isn’t cool to drive a station wagon, but eventually you will get a Ford Focus. And it will eat tires like nobody’s business, so maybe you should rethink what car you choose to get.
I once heard a quote that if everyone put all their troubles in a pile, we would still pick our own if given the chance. You’ll cry yourself to sleep many nights, but cry to God. He is always there. You’ll go through experiences you will never think will happen, so when the people who are closest to you are hurting, be there for them. Even though you will have gone through Pastoral care and counseling classes, you still won’t know what to say. And that’s okay, because the ministry of presence is so extremely important. Never forget that.
Oh, yeah, and eat lots of Peach-Os and beef jerky. Life is fragile, so enjoy it.
Future Annie (Or “Present Annie”? Ah, man, now I am just confused, too.)