Wednesday, March 25, 2009

A Letter To Me… From Me… 10 Years in the Waiting

In 1999 I was 15 years old and in 9th grade. Ah, 15 years old. Do you remember those days? Do you remember what went through your mind at 15 years old? What was important to you then that now, older and wiser(?), you can’t believe you really cared THAT much about? Maybe things like old what’s-his-name you were in love with and couldn’t understand why he liked his skinny mean girlfriend or if you went to that dance or won the big game. Maybe you were concerned about your clothes, your make-up, if you were popular enough or smart enough or cool enough. Our parents always told us that zits and boys didn't matter, that we wouldn't care one day, and it will all work out. Oh those parents – they really do know what they’re talking about don’t they? We should give them a smidgen of credit. A smidgen.

Well, I’m 25 years old now and though I still get zits sometimes and boys are still a misery I’d rather avoid, I am a little more capable of handling those insignificant life fluctuations than my 15 year old mind was. If I were to describe my 9th grade self, I would tell you that I’d come out of a very depressing Junior High experience. My self-esteem was pathetically low (as most teenagers), I was self-conscious of my body, not because I was overweight, but because I didn’t like boobs. True story. I tried to hide my little buds all through Junior High (which is weird because they’ve sprouted and remained B’s my whole life – not much to hide – ahem) with big sweaters I’d steal from my mom. Thus, I wasn’t considered in any remote way “stylish” – and let’s be honest – I was a bit of a fem-nazi. I was never obsessed with boys or having a boyfriend; it just never seemed important to me (a big thanks goes out to Singles Wards for changing all that – mumble grumble – stupid pressure). There was also a lot of rage inside me and I lashed out a lot with my fiery attitude and cool logic in class, with friends, and at my wee brothers. I don’t remember being extraordinarily happy really; but wouldn’t let myself feel sad. I plugged through – and had all the ups and downs of an angsty teenage life. Junior High didn’t end soon enough.

However on a positive note (and not to make you think I was a raging psycho), I naturally made friends and now that I think back on it, had a lot of good friends I never really appreciated. I joked and laughed a lot. I was spontaneous and focused on my schooling. I wrote short stories and poems – and read read read. Sigh. I did have a lot of friends. I really did. Good friends too. Oh, the things we miss when we’re too absorbed in our own drama to look outside and see how blessed life really is – to see other people for their good, and love them when they need someone to love them. Sure we have lonely and sad times at 15 or at 25, that’s natural, but “it could always be worse” is an annoyingly familiar but entirely true adage I always try and remember when I find myself having a “self-pity party” all too reminiscent of a brooding teenager. I’m healthy. I have a job. I’m trying my best. And though things do tend to get lonely, it really could always be worse. I could be a self-absorbed 15 year old again for one thing! Shudder. And some people remain self-absorbed 15 year olds well into their 20’s (trust me I’ve dated them). However, I hope I’ve grown outside of my teenage “what does everyone think of me? Why is the world always watching me?” attitude into “what can I do for everyone else? Where can I improve the world” attitude. Anyway… bit of a self-reflective side note there. Borrrrrring.

Moving right along…

Now that I have you thinking back to your teenage years – some full of angst – some full of happy freedoms – some forgotten – I’d like to show you a letter sent to me from my 9th Grade Seminary teacher, Sister Powell. Wonderful woman! She had us sit down one day and write a letter to our “10 years away” future selves – our 25 year old selves. We were supposed to record where we thought we would be, what we should be doing, and any advice we’d like to give our much older and hopefully much wiser, selves. We sealed it away with a photo of our 9th Grade Seminary Class – handed it in - and pushed it into the back of our minds – until a week ago:
May 10th, 1999

Dear Andrea Cox,

Hey! I’m sitting here in Seminary next to the Canyon View Jr. High School in Huntington, Ut. By the time you get this you/me are 25 years old! Wow! I’m ancient! 25!!

By now you should be through High School, and in a good college in a city. Preferably Logan, or maybe, out of state.

You should be on the road to a successful career in one of the following: psychiatry, law (lawyer, FBI agent?), or possibly a doctor. Right now I really don’t know what I want to be but you should know, right? You should be very self-sufficient and healthy. Having a healthy lifestyle is important! Eat better! Exercise! I know you are.

You shouldn’t be married yet. No children yet either. You should be going for your career. Even though a family is a nice thought; [it’s] not right now. You should be closer to the gospel it seems, closer to your family, and not put so much priority on friends. I’m at a difficult time now, but I know now that making or not making the volleyball team doesn’t matter to you. Things that seem important to me now, you’ve gone through and know just how “important” they were.

I hope you’re happy and ready for anything!

Luv Always,
Andrea Cox J

PS: Remember Tina Ward.

And the picture (I’m the chubby cheeked homely “cover the boob buds” one in the middle – don’t judge! We’re just humble country folk… the kind that think Logan is a “city.”)

What’s incredible is I remember every one of my class mates names. Seriously. Many of the girls are married as are the boys – in fact about 95% of them are married – and I’m not in contact with any of them. I do remember Tina Ward though (to my immediate right)! I also remember that she wrote “PS Remember Andrea Cox” on her “self-letter.” It’s high time for a Facebook search. Good old Facebook.

And now, a little bit in the way of response:

I’ve been reflecting on this letter for the past week. Thinking about where I have gone (University of Utah) what I am doing (awaiting MPA school and working in a great job with promising future prospects) and what I want more than anything in this world – a family. The 15 year old me would scoff at my greatest desire morphing from career to family (though I can have both come to find) – but because I’m a 25 year old who’s now had a few experiences that have taught her what is really important in life – I will just knowingly shake my head at “15-year-old-scoffing-angry-boob-fearing-me” and know that she’s got a lot of growing up to do. Ya know what’s really refreshing is knowing how much I HAVE grown and changed and hopefully have become a more refined, better equipped, wishing for a little bigger boobs, woman. I am closer to my family, I am stronger in the gospel, and dammit 15-year old me, I really don’t care that I made the volleyball team in 9th grade (though as I side note I totally did).

What really struck me is the final sentence in my letter “I hope you’re happy and ready for anything!”

Am I happy? Well, I’m working really hard on it. I want to be happy. I’m doing those things that make me happy, and trying to be patient for those things that would add to my happiness. I’m trying to forget those things that make me sad, and forgive those who have hurt me. Happiness. Sigh. What is happiness anyway? It’s another post for another time I suppose. BUT, after some rough and tumble life experiences, I CAN assure you I AM ready for anything. I’m ready for all of it.


heidikins said...

Ah honey, this post is absolutely beautiful. Admittedly, I got a bit misty at the end. Very well written, kudos to you!


Andrea, Mrs. said...

Actually, it seems to me as if you HAVE made quite a bit of your life since then--and done a lot of what you intended, though through a slightly different route.

And I also like that NOW you have other goals to push you FORWARD still. What a shame it would be if you (we) were unable to continue to improve ourselves.

Andrea Jolene said...

Misty eyed? What the? :) Thanks Heidi my friend.

Adam & MiKail said...

Andrea - I always love reading your posts. It's funny, I was thinking of 9th grade the other day and amazed that it's been 10 years. Here's to the next 10 - I wonder what they will bring?

Grimm Family blog said...

Wow! I can't wait to read my letter! Oh this is Cyrena BTW! Psh shaw your not in contact with anyone! How could you forget your snobby friend Cyrena. My mom is bringing me my letter next week and I must say I am a little nervous. My letter is prob not as profound as yours. it prob says somthing like you must marry Steven or somethng gay like that. I must say that when I look back on Jr. High my biggest regret was the way I treated my good friends, especially you. I am sorry I was a snobby poo head most of the time. We always had so much fun together. When I think of Jr. High I think of you me and Ashlee. You were always a great example to me and I wanted so badly to be brave like you and stand up for whats right. Thanks again. I love your blog btw.

Andrea Jolene said...

Cyrena! Shame on ME of COURSE I remember my good friend Cyrena "Oveson". ;) You need to post your letter for sure! I'd love to hear what it says. Ha. Steven. That's funny. It reminds me I should email Ashlee too... it's been awhile.

Marisa Jean said...

I made a time capsule at the exact same time as you wrote this--only I was supposed to open it at age 22. It's still sealed. What! I can still remember some of the stuff that's inside. Lame, I know.

I loved this post and the letter. I think that even though you may have realized what's "important" that you stay in tune with what has obviously been important to you--being educated, self sufficient and having boobs. Things will happen when they are supposed to.

Andrea Jolene said...

Wait... so are you saying I can still have boob hope? Naturally!??!?!

Cory and Michele said...

That is so cool that you kept the letter for 10 years! It was so fun to read. I wish that I would have had a teacher that made us do something like that. Even though my letter probably would have been pretty superficial...

Dear self,
You should be married to a very rich man, have 2 kids, and own a lot of nice stuff. And diamonds, lots of diamonds. Princesses deserve all of that. And you should be living happily ever after.
Love, Me

Back then I didn't know that the world could be such a cruel place and that "stuff" would never buy happiness. :)

Loved it! Thanks for sharing.