Dear Me at 19,
It is going to be so good.
Driving from Logan for the very first time, in a sixteen-passenger van filled with new students about to spend two weeks in the wilderness, you will look out the window and turn your thoughts to the stars:
"I'll never be the same, will I?"
The stars will twinkle back at you, and you will be terrified.
Granted, you'll keep your brave face on. Mercy, you'll be brave! That face will hug your freckled skin like a leather driving glove. You'll wrestle the Adirondacks, sobbing when you finally scale the rock wall, singing when a thunderstorm crashes down around your camp, and shuffling to the Health Center for ointment on your first day of Orientation.
That trip will set the stage for a year of commitment moves-of going to bat for the things you are determined to execute, and striking out: Once, your major. (Your tender heart vs. your sense of fiscal obligation. Did you really think the latter would win?!) Twice, your boyfriend. (Yep. Even that ends, love. Keep reading.) Three times, your faith. (Dr. Phillips' lecture on the Big Bang will be the start of a long, slow separation of doctrine from dogma. Hang on tight.)
Striking out will cost you dearly. That brave face will have to go.
Slowly, like peeling back a Band-Aid the way you know you shouldn't, the way that fires each nerve ending with a jolt of "Ouch!"-slowly, you will take it off.
And then (this is the good part) ,
You will be seen.
Not for who you want to be. Who you want to be is beautiful, intelligent, thin, witty, balanced, poised, compassionate, and totally implausible. If she exists, she has ulcers. And nobody wants those.
Not for who you think you should be. Once in awhile you'll slip into that girl's high-heeled shoes, and end up with your heart's storehouse spent in too many places. Thinking it is your duty, you will run to the side of people who do not love you, who do not know how to care for you. You will come up empty from time spent with those people, being your "should" self instead of your real self.
Not even for who you know you could be. Faith-filled and lit from within by love, laughing at the things to come and turning lemons into sparkling lemonade. You are on your way to the place where that woman dwells, but at the time of this writing, she is still a destination.
you will be seen for who you are.
By your floor-the one you are supposed to be leading. You will make them name tags and take them to Boston and pray over their lives and they will lead you in the ways of love, authenticity, and joy.
By your roommate-she will be your ally in that crippling darkness of 2009 and your maid of honor in the blinding light of 2012.
By your professors and mentors-who will see you weekly like a therapist and love you like a friend.
By God-in the woods, as the sun sets and the leaves crunch under your feet. You will stop running, you will take out your earbuds, and you will finally listen to the words you've been dying to hear: "No amount of running could change my love for you."
You can't see this all now, of course. If you could, you wouldn't keep going.
You would look at all the broken pieces that it takes to build this story, all the sweat, all the tears, all the re-dos and the the standstills, and you would want out. The odds of healing, of growing, of developing and loving again are stacked high against you, it would seem.
But love, trust me when I say, it is going to be so good. Better than your wildest imagination.
No, you don't get to know how.
Because this story-the one you're about to walk out?
Honey, it's so beautiful, it's worth living.
And once in awhile, we gotta live this thing before we can tell it.
Me at 25