A couple of months ago our leadership training at church asked us to write letters to our younger selves. I may post that one day, but this is an updated version of a post I did as part of a collection The Scriblerians did a couple of years ago.
Gretchen, you’ve finished middle school. Whew! You’ve pretty much endured your last bad haircut (the jury is still out on the one you get in mid-1995). You managed to dodge braces, and you won’t need glasses until your mid-20s. So yay that.
You are a girl of goals and ambition. To a fault. At 44, I want to tell you to relax. Be fourteen. Adulthood comes all too soon.
You haven’t even started high school, but you already know you want to be a chemical engineer and Dad’s alma mater, Purdue is the only school on your radar as we say in the 2000s. Spoiler alert (another 2000s thing). You get your BS ChE in 1995 right on track. If 43 year old me could give you advice it would be to consider other options like becoming a pharmacist or orthodontist. Ignore the advice from The Graduate. It’s consulting not plastics where you end up.
Enjoy your girlfriends. Have more overnighters. Hang out at the mall. Go to more movies. They’re truly your friends not saboteurs. Trust them.
Mom and Dad made the best decision for our family when we started attending World Gospel Church back in January. We make a wide circle of lifelong friends, and all of us develop a deep faith. It serves us well. We go through some rough times. Our worst one will happen later this year. Grandpa K will pass away suddenly. We’re fortunate, Grandpa G is a spry 93. Grandma K lives to be 100 and Grandma G well into her 80s. There are other difficult events, but we pull through with God and each other.
I don’t want to give too much away but here’s a bit of what life holds for you (spoiler alert in case you don’t want to know, stop right here).
Intentional Blank Space to Avoid Spoilers
Okay so you are curious. I knew that. You always read the last few pages of a book, especially if you’re afraid you won’t like the ending.
- Sweet sixteen and never been kissed. True for a time. Before seventeen you kiss a boy. It’s uneventful.
- Junior prom. You go with a guy from youth group and date a few times but stay just friends.
- Senior prom. You’re not going to believe this one! You go with your crush since seventh grade. It’s an okay, one-off thing.
- Otherwise you’re hopeless in the boy department. High school is spent at home watching videos with Mom and Dad. College has its own issues. Boys still don’t ask you to dance, Christian boys. Being rejected because you’re labeled the flirty unworthy girl is gut-wrenching.
- It’s kind of a miracle that your faith survives college. Not because of outside temptations but because of the rampant legalism within your Christian circles. You cling to what’s important, and your faith eventually thrives.
- You meet a boy at Purdue. Do the long-distance thing. End up in Phoenix (another of God’s miracles). Get married. Travel (even work a few months in Japan). Love city life. Have a boy and a girl. Move to a small town; it’s still not your thing, but you adapt and like it.
I’m sure you’re curious about “Star Trek” since you hate, loathe, and despise anything related to science fiction or fantasy. That changes. At 44 you read and write in those genres. You have completed several manuscripts. You don’t have a published full-length novel but several of your short stories have been published.
You just completed your third half-marathon. You even win third place in your age group even if it’s not an overly impressive time (benefits of living in a small town). Yes, you who grumble every time they make you run a mile in gym class enjoy distance running. You don’t even consider it a real run unless it’s at least three miles.
My last piece of advice is that old cliche, “never say never.”