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!
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.