I’ve just finished the excellent book by John Green, ‘The Fault in our Stars’. You should know about John and read his book. He’s all over youtube and is one of those American types who actually believes that the world can be changed and, with his brother Hank, does something about it in an intelligent and thoughtful way. He wants to decrease world suck and that’s a pretty awesome thing. So you know, check him out.
Anyways, the book is all about a teenage girl with cancer. Cheery I know. But excellent in so many ways. This post really isn’t about the book though, it just got me thinking. Reading it took me off on a tangent of pondering my teenage self all over again and wondering what I would write now to my 16yr old self. Seems like a typical ‘blog’ thing to do and as I’m fresh out of new blog ideas at the moment I’m thinking, well why not?
Dear 16 year old Kath.
Firstly you will ditch the Kat for Kath in a couple of years when you get to university. But, Kat? What were you thinking? Did you think it made you look cool? Oh wait, I know the reason, and yeah, I’m sorry about that. You took it up because Katherine was a bit, well, too girly wasn’t it? We’ll get to that in a bit. But know that Kath suits you and you don’t really remember being anyone else after a while.
As most of our personality hasn’t changed all that dramatically in the last 18 years (what?where did that time go?) I’ll start with some over analysis. I’m not sure that even if this was technically possible I would actually write to you, I think some things you need to just find out and experience yourself. Obviously. If we all had a letter when we were 16 telling us the future we’d probably freak out and spend the rest of our lives worrying about how we were going to cope with each event. That’s the nice thing about a lack of time travel, we just have to deal with stuff as it arrives.
Yep. You are still a deep thinker, that never went away, maybe less self pitying and a bit more rational and you certainly deal with the darkness better these days, although the blackness never fully went away, sorry.
So accepting that you’ll never actually read this there are a few things to say.
It gets better. Pump up the Volume was right, life at school really is the pits. It gets better. You make amazing friends, you have an awesome time from Uni onwards. The insecurity sticks around for a long time, the darkness still comes over you but it gets so much better than this. You’ll find yourself in situations you never thought you would, you’ll lead teams of students abroad, you’ll face fears, you’ll be able to speak in public without going red and struggling to breathe. People will listen to you and think you wise (we’ll know better eh). This happens because God doesn’t give up on those he starts work in, remember your baptism? Good work started right there and He’s taken you on many adventures since. It gets better.
You are a beautiful woman. It will take you so long to get this but get it you will. You are beautiful. One day you will lie beside someone else who looks at you and sees deep shining beauty, still you’ll doubt- but he won’t. He’ll see his beautiful bride and be crazy about you. But even before he comes along you’ll finally know that it doesn’t matter if others find you beautiful or not. You’ll know as you’ve never known before that you have been made a beautiful woman who loves deeply, who smiles long and loud, who is known and loved. One day you’ll stop covering your body in baggy clothes, you’ll stop being scared to wear things that make it obvious that you are a woman and you’ll feel comfortable in your own skin. One day lovely, one day. I wish it was sooner, I wish you’d get this today and save years of heartache but your Lover comes and rescues you and then gives you a smaller less perfect lover to reflect some of that love in a really human way.
You’ll have that family which you think you’ll get instantly when you go to Uni. Well thankfully you don’t find it there like Mum and Dad did, although not for want of looking. You’ll get over the weird crushes and the awkward moments and yes it will be good that you and him never became more than good friends, remember that through the pain eh.
You’ll not meet someone until you are 31, and you’ll be incredibly grateful for that. Not all the time mind you. Your 20s will be taken up with fighting for the wonder of contentment and wholeness without that weird promise of someone to complete you. Even when he comes along he won’t.
In those years your Lover will show you that you are loved everlastingly without the need for someone else to validate your existence, you’ll make deep lasting friendships, you’ll go on amazing holidays, you’ll help others struggling to believe the same thing and you’ll know that life is about so much more. But then out of the blue, when you are least expecting anything he’ll walk onto the stage and you’ll not really work out what life was like before him. Like a comfortable shoe that perfectly fits you’ll not remember the breaking in or the being introduced. It’s like he’s always been around and suddenly it makes no sense to live life apart. Odd how that happens.
Then, you’ll make another life. Who is currently wiggling beside me so I’m going to be quick. Life is still hard, don’t get me wrong, just because you now have things that mean you’d win that silly game of life if you played it doesn’t mean that it’s easy. It’s hard to love and be loved. It’s hard to die to yourself and it’s hard to live well, content in the moment. The point of this letter isn’t to say, it gets better cos you’ve got amazing stuff now. It gets better because God has never let you go, and has patiently worked in your life and won’t ever give up doing that. Which, strangely is what I need to hear at 34 as much as you do at 16.
So, go on, keep remembering that as you muddle through this crazy thing called life.