My friend recently shared a blog post with me that asked a famous person to explain their current situation to their five years ago self. And it got me thinking.
With the pressure we place on young adults to focus on the future, on after college graduation, on a career, we rarely ask them to look at how far they have come. We rarely ask them to pause and reflect on where they have been and where they are now.
So I started thinking about where I was 5 years ago. I was 15 years old and starting my sophomore year of high school. And I started thinking about what I would say and of course, I thought how I would share it with all of you and encourage you to do the same.
When I first started writing this article, I thought about how easy it would be. But once I actually started to think about where I was 5 years ago, I became emotional. It's been a wild ride for sure and this article was especially difficult to write but I think it's important to say our past helps shape us and most definitely gives us the motivation to grow.
I asked myself "don't focus on where you're going, for one second think about where you've been."
You are heading into some of the most difficult years yet. You will be tried and tested. You will cry. You will look in the mirror and feel sick to your stomach. You will wonder why you are here, how you could ever possibly have anything valuable to offer. You will question yourself and your faith. You will lose friends.
But you will also gain one friendship back. She will be one of the most important people in your life. Cherish her because she will be an anchor these next few years.
The end of high school will be filled with laughs, friends, love, stress, and fear for the future. You will be torn between staying close to home and branching out. Keep your faith. Pray daily. God will lead you to where you need to be. The feelings of self-hate will subside. You will start to trust yourself. And, my God, you will start to love yourself.
College will be a time of growth and change. You will find a sorority, a friend group that reminds you every day you're where you're supposed to be.
You will get knocked down and you will be tested. Stay true to the person you've become because the ones that matter will stick by your side through every speed bump. The ones that don't you'll be better off without.
Listen to your mom. She knows more than she lets you believe. She knows when someone is not going to be around forever. Call her often. Let her catch you when you fall. But more importantly, give her the support she needs too.
You will have your heart smashed, Colleen. It will hurt like hell and despite how you feel, you will survive. You will move on. You will grow and change and, God, you will thrive.
You will meet so many people. Some will come and go, others you know will stay. Everyone will have a story, will have a purpose. Learn from them, no matter how much time you have with them.
You will love. A lot. Sometimes it will hurt, other times it will keep your head above water. Don't ever stop loving. Keep loving people in spite of their downfalls, love them for everything that they are, the good and the bad.
Don't ever stop doing the things that make you happy. Keep praying. Keep singing. Keep reading. Keep listening to your crazy, unknown, bands. Get those piercings, wear those clothes, buy that lipstick. Don't let anyone take those things from you.
You will question your sanity. You will question your intelligence. You will question your worth. You will doubt and cry and kick and scream.
But through it all, you will realize what is important and who matters. Above all else, you will become the woman you only dreamed about being years prior.
The next five years will be a whirlwind of emotions and change but here's the thing, Colleen, right now you're sitting in an apartment with your three best friends (and sorority sisters) in one of your favorite cities in the world. Your best friend back home just texted you something hilarious. You're forcing your roommates to listen to your pop punk music as you type an article for the Odyssey- a site you get published on weekly. You're leaving for London, England in five months to study at King's College. You're COO of your sorority and an honor student.
Things work out. And you can't hide the happy that has consumed your life. Because you know there is so much more coming.
All my love,
Like I said, our society has put so many pressure on us to look forward and keep moving. I encourage you to look back at where you were 2, 5, 10 years ago. See how far you have come. Because I'm proud of you for getting here, right now.