As I sit here today in my cozy apartment snuggled up with my sweet dog, legs propped up on the coffee table and the fresh air gently rustling through my windows, I can’t help but reflect on the memories I have safely tucked away in the confines of my mind and heart. Some I hope to never lose, and some I wish I could all together forget.
In just slightly more than a month I will be celebrating my 24th birthday. At times its difficult to comprehend the whirlwind my life has been, and yet in the same breath, it feels as though each passing moment has lingered on.
No matter the persistence or brevity of time, I began reminiscing how I had imagined my life to transpire when I was a little girl. As I reentered the broad world my imagination allowed me to explore while in my play room growing up, I would have never pictured my life to have taken the twists and turns that it has. Back then, in my care free world, I would pretend to be a veterinary office, a pharmacy, a post office, a bank, a school, Stuff Mart (the local store I opened that my dear parents would so often visit), and anything else my resourcefulness could create. I imagined a future where I would graduate college, marry a sweet boy I met while attending and instantly raise a family. I had been swept away by a false reality which was, unbeknown to me, not the journey I would ultimately embark on.
As I reflect, I can picture the world where I believed life was full of rainbows and fairy-tales. As I have grown and matured, however, I have begun to appreciate the intricacies that reality creates. Though at times this reality feels more like a traumatic unraveling of expectations, the genuineness of struggles is what makes life beautiful.
I often wonder if I could return to those moments where I dreamt of nothing short of a blissful life, what would I tell the young version of myself? The innocence of youth is something beautiful in and of itself, as is the wisdom you gather through experience. If sending a letter to a certain time and place in the past were a possibility it would read something like this:
Dear Younger Me,
I know it seems strange and impossible to hear from me, but I am in fact writing as the 24-year-old version of you. My intention is, to the best of my ability, to guide you along the way as you progress in the years to come. I have learned an exceeding amount since the days that I saved my pennies to buy my very own cash register and made mud pies in the back yard, and to be honest, I regret that I have let some of the joy of my youth slip away in the seasons of trouble and suffering.
Emily, life is a journey to be enjoyed, so don’t let it be a fleeting moment that escapes you in such a hurry. Slow down! I am well aware of the expectations you have constructed in your mind as to what a perfect life should resemble; but please don’t be trapped by those expectations. In 18 years, you will cherish these days as valuable memories, but don’t lose the ability to create more in the days to come. I urge you to take a deep breath each morning, and embrace change. You will not complete each phase of life in the exact manner you envision or dream of today, but that in no way lowers its value!
When you are battered by the storms of life, find delight in those moments just as you are in these. Discover the simplistic fragments of joy amidst the crushing reality of pain. You will experience pain, but please don’t give it authority to become your identity. The world around you can still be as beautiful as you imagine if you choose daily to view it in that manner. Each chapter of life you open will have variations of the aspirations you imagine today.
Don’t believe the lies that will be spoken over you. You are not broken. In fact, you were designed flawless, fearfully and wonderfully made, and are the young woman your Heavenly Father designed you to be. Take His hand each day and let Him be your guide. The unexpected should be expected, but if you are anchored to the Rock, the sudden surges you find yourself overcome by will in no way be able to alter your course.
You are on a journey that will take you to the breathtaking mountain tops and through the bleakest of valleys. Don’t lose focus, don’t give up, and don’t question the journey you are on. It has the ability to be beyond beautiful when you choose to appreciate the beauty for what it is. Love who you are and embrace each moment; because before you realize, you will be sitting where I am today.
Your Older Self.