I’ve really been struggling with my latest blog posts in the series I’m working on. Day 10 I was supposed to write about my go to story: the story I tell when I meet someone the first time. The problem is I don’t have a story; I don’t meet new people in a way I’d need to have a story ready.
So, I skipped that one and moved on to 11, thinking I’d come back to it later. Day 11 was simply to write a letter to your teenage self. I jumped in with both feet. It just came pouring out. It started getting really long and I hadn’t said half of what I intended to say.
Time to re-read. What can I cut? Condense? Merge? How much is just redundant?
Except I didn’t make it past re-read.
That letter was awful. Negativity. Judgmental. Harsh. Full of everything I wanted to warn the old me to watch out for, but no hope, promise, or inspiration.
I saved it and walked away, but it’s been nagging at me all week. I work with teenagers. All day. Everyday. I live with two teenagers. I occasionally even help at church with, you guessed it, teenagers! Would I use any of those words to motivate and encourage them?
Then why would it be ok to say to yourself, and would it make a positive impact on your life if you had that letter to read when you were a teenager?
You see, I raised two kids that I worried about 24/7. I still worry about 24/7, but the reasons have changed. I used to worry that they wouldn’t fit in, that we wouldn’t be able to provide enough for them and they’d be picked on, that people would ostracize them because they were “different”, and the list goes on and on. Except for now I have two high school students being raised in the same kind of small rural town public school I was raised in. Everybody knows everything about everyone else, and what they don’t know they make up.
Except my kids are different. And they’re ok with that.
They both do the things they enjoy and like regardless of what anyone else thinks is or isn’t cool. They stick up for other people who get picked on even when it means walking away from friends toward those most wouldn’t choose for friends. They have high standards and morals and aren’t afraid to call others out who are making poor choices that will affect their futures. They believe in service and do it because they choose to.
Yeah, I think life turns out pretty good for teenage Carrie, and I could give her some much better advice than what I typed earlier this week. I think I’ll just take my examples from the teenagers that live under my roof and my experiences as a teacher. You can read specific examples on these past posts: