I was driving home the other night and that song by Brad Paisley, Letter to Me, came on the radio. If you haven't heard the song before, he sings about all the things he would write in a letter to himself at age 17. Man, I love that song, and man, I love B-rad. Listening to it got me thinking about all the things I would tell my teenage self. OH yeah....that's a long list. So here it is...a letter to myself (or any teenager for that matter) at age 17.
Dear 17-year-old self,
Right now is a pretty crazy time for you. In just a year you're gonna graduate and be off on your own. You're deciding where you should go and what you want to do with your life, and it all seems a little scary and totally overwhelming. You don't have to worry about the details of it all though because everything irons out how it should.
Sometimes you feel a little confused about who you are and what your purpose is. You wonder if the only thing going for you is basketball. Sometimes you might not feel pretty. You might feel like you could be tanner, that your hair could be longer, or that your legs are too big, but you are beautiful just the way you are. Everyone has insecurities. You're not the only one. Take comfort in that all your friends around you are trying to figure out the whole self-confidence thing too. Even though you might not want to take the time out everyday to do it, and He seems a little distant and unreachable, pray to your Heavenly Father about what's in your heart. He'll bring you comfort and remind you that you're a daughter of God.
Invest time in your family. They will be your best friends forever. You may not want to spend time with your parents on the weekends, but every now and again, stay home, hang with and talk to them. They are dying to hear about what's going on in your life and will give you the best advice anyone can give you. Even if you think they're antiquated and don't understand...they do.
Love your siblings. Your brothers and sisters will always share your childhood. No one will understand that part of you like your siblings do. There's a special bond there. Don't underestimate how much their friendship will mean to you because you don't think they understand. They love you and always will.
Just because you're going to college doesn't mean you're an adult. So quit acting like you know it all. And just because you're going to college, it doesn't mean you'll have all the answers now that you're on your own. Value the time you have left with your family because you'll miss them a lot that first semester away from home. And actually...every semester of college after that. Especially your Mom. That first semester away from home is gonna be a doozy. Really tough stuff. You'll wanna bag the whole college scene and go closer to home. But you'll find one of your best friends in an unexpected place. He'll help you navigate the whole freshman scene. You might feel alone for a little while at first, but be patient, "everything is unfolding as it should."
College will be full of ups and downs. Mostly ups, but the downs will sometimes seem unbearable. Don't let those times break you. Be strong and hopeful. Rely on your friends and family. Especially your Mom. She will be your anchor, even though she seems really far away. When you talk to her, everything won't feel quite as intense and hard as you think it is. She'll bring you comfort and the best advice anyone can give you simply because she's your mom. She knows you better than anyone else in the whole world. She has been your advocate and number one fan from the moment you took your first breath. Value that relationship. It's a special one.
Be proud of who you are. Harness the happiness inside of you. Don't let anyone make you feel dumb for having a good attitude and being happy. Enjoy the fun you'll have in college! Take school seriously, but not too seriously. Work hard, but enjoy the social aspect. Make friends and build relationships. They'll be some of your most valuable relationships.
Your heart is gonna get broken. Twice. The first time will be unexpected, and it won't even be because of a boy. You'll lose your best friend. Your paths will take different directions, and it will be harder than you ever would've thought. It may not seem like it at the time, but one day that friendship will heal. Bridges can be built over bridges that have burned. You will spend a lot of lonely nights at home, but thankfully your home at that time will be with a family that will become like your own. There will be two children you'll nanny for that will become two of your best friends. You'll love them with your whole heart, and they'll help you overcome what you're going through without even realizing it. At that time, go to church. Be involved. You'll meet people that will change your life. You'll be strengthened and reminded of the love that God has for you. I want you to know that if you ever forget who you are, you can get on your knees and ask God to remind you. Because he will always remind you.
The second time will be because of a boy. It will be hard, and you'll shed lots of tears. You'll drive to California on a whim to get a change of scenery for the summer. Then you'll drive right back because it wasn't for you. But don't be discouraged because there's something really incredibly awesome waiting for you in Utah.
It's a boy.
But not just any boy. It's your best friend. It's the person that makes you better. And happy. Sweet merciful, you'll be happy. You'll start to realize that everything up to that point was just one more stepping stone on your way to him. He'll let you be Y O U . You won't have to try, your relationship will just fall into place. It will continue to feel right. So right that spending a day without him feels weird. So right that you'll know really quickly that he's the one you'll want to spend forever with. People are gonna think you're crazy for moving so fast, but follow your heart on this one. It'll be the best decision you've ever made. And you'll call him Buns. You can imagine why.
Right after your one-year anniversary with your boo snack, you'll have a baby. Yep, that's right, you heard me, a B-A-B-Y. And it'll be a girl. A beautiful baby girl. She'll rock your world at first. It will be a hard adjustment, but the best adjustment you'll ever make. She'll soften your heart, and you'll develop a love for her that rocks your socks off. At first it develops slowly, but one day look at her, and just by looking at her, you'll be brought to tears. She'll come to mean everything to you. Your world will revolved around her and your hubby, and you'll love every second of it except for the seconds that you don't because sometimes you won't.
Marriage can be hard sometimes. You'll continually learn and grow with each other. You'll recognize some things about your personality that you never really knew before you got married. Be patient with each other. Most importantly, have fun. Don't take yourselves too seriously. Make time to go on dates. Dates will strengthen your relationship. Communication is also so important! It might be a little different at first, because you've never been one to talk about your feelings a lot, but again, it will strengthen your relationship. FO SHO.
I guess my biggest advice is to choose happiness. Because it's a choice. Enjoy the people around you. Enjoy the opportunities around you. Enjoy the journey of learning and growing. Smile as often as possible. Laugh even more. There are so many beautiful reasons you have to be happy Ashton.
See ya in 7 years girl!
❤, Ashton Tilton