Would it be easier to look back on the year? Probably. But as I got to thinking about this entire decade – how I was 15 years old when it started, that I have graduated high school and college since it first began… it challenges you and humbles you at the same time. I’ve had moments I’m proud of and moments that still make me cringe. But with everything that’s happened, there’ve been lessons to learn and I like to think I’ve carried those with me well. Obviously I can’t recap the entirety of the last ten years because then this post would never end, but I wanted to be able to share the significant events that I know are what made me into the person I am today.
I was halfway through my sophomore year of high school when 2010 started. When I think about my high school days, all I can think about was how focused I was on the boy I was dating and how sour of an outlook I had on life. I’m pretty vocal that I would never go back to high school, if ever given the chance. But at the same time, if I could let myself then know what I do now – just so I didn’t have to look back on it with such a bitter heart – I would.
College was when I first experienced head-on that at some point, you need to be almost entirely broken down in order to be molded into the person you need to become. I started struggling with my anxiety disorder + panic. I lost my long-term boyfriend and best friend within months of each other. I struggled with trying to find and understand my God-given purpose. But after some time, lost relationships and friendships made their way back to me, and I transferred to OU where I discovered my true passion for health + wellness.
My last year of college, after 9 (collective) years, the boyfriend and I broke up the third and final time, and that’s when something in me snapped. New Year’s Eve 2016 was when I swore I’d leave that relationship behind me. I told myself in 2017, I’d live outside my comfort zones and that I wouldn’t let the fear of the future stop me from trying. That was an intimidating feat for me, seeing as how that relationship was such a comfort zone for me for so long, but I realized it was time to grow into the woman God designed me to be and move forward, boldly.
It didn’t take me long to meet someone else that sent me head over heels; but then also sent me head-first into deepest, darkest pit I’ve ever had to try and escape. To this day I still can’t tell you want I saw in him or what had me so enamored. But after struggling to part with my 15 year identity as a student, being fired from my first full time job, feeling homesick and alone in an empty college town, the last part of my sanity shattered when that relationship came to a startling halt. For a month and a half, my anxieties clouded the entirety of my mind and sent me into depressive episodes that had me unable to get out of bed for entire weekends.
To this day, I want to be embarrassed over how my mind + soul responded to the situation, but looking back I know I can’t be. It’s a significant part of my testimony. It’s when I told my anxiety it no longer gets to control me; that it’s not my master. It’s what made me pick blogging back up. It’s what drove me to adopt Arlyn who is a constant reminder of strength and loyalty.
Since then, life has been fairly constant – I continue to learn and grow, individually and professionally. God has already started to lay some major changes for the new year on my heart and it is easily some of the most exciting yet intimidating plans He’s had for me. Of course, I’ll have to wait and see how it all plays out, but I couldn’t go into the new year – the new decade – without taking the time to reminisce on everything I’ve been through, everything I’ve learned. I don’t know if I have quite the mental capacity to “write a letter to my younger self” post, but I know that I have some major pieces of advice I’d go back and give myself if I could. I figured to finish off this post, I’d give my 15-year-old self 10 pieces of advice – one for each year of the decade.
Advice to my 15-year-old self
1 · The sooner you can learn to forgive, the better. Holding onto anger will drain you more than putting your pride aside and letting go. Seriously – take a nap, cry about it, and give it to God. You’ll feel better for it.
2 · Nothing is taken away without God giving back more. Letting go sucks, but you learn that God can always see the bigger picture when all you can see is the past. If that person, that job, that opportunity passes you by it’s because there’s something better waiting for you that you can’t see yet – you just have to surrender what you’re so afraid to let go of before you can start to understand it.
3 · For the love of God, figure out how to budget. Listen to mom and dad, even if dad wants to turn it into a two hour lecture. He knows what he’s talking about and come 25, you’re going to wish you had listened sooner.
4 · Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, and persistent in prayer. What looks like waiting to us is obedience to God – miracles are a process, and while your heart may ache in the waiting, all good things will always happen in God’s perfect timing, and they will always work out exactly how they need to.
5 · Always listen to your gut, and never say never. Your gut is almost always right, and if you say you’ll “never” do something, I can tell you this now – odds are, it happens. God’s funny like that.
6 · God will always be your comfort and your strength. He will fight for you when you feel weary, and He will be your rest when you feel hopeless. He will be your wisdom when you feel like you’re at the end of yourself. Literally nothing is impossible with Him – learn to see Him as your friend and all the good times will be sweeter, and the hard times won’t be nearly as heavy.
7 · Anxiety is tough, but honey, you are so much tougher. At 15, you don’t even know it’s coming; mental health isn’t really talked about yet. It’s going to shake you to your core and try and rob you of every ounce of your peace. It’s going to drive you to breaking points, to the point that you feel crippled and don’t even recognize yourself – but it’s from this weakness that you learn how to be strong. It’s how you learn to stand up for yourself, against yourself. It somehow manages to be the worst yet best thing that’s happened to you. Even in the darkest moments, strive to remember that you are so much stronger than the Enemy will try and let you realize.
8 · If you can’t say anything nice, don’t say it at all – even if you’re just venting. It’s seriously the simplest concept you were taught, and over time you’ll learn the hard way that gossip always has a way of exposing itself and biting you in the butt later.
9 · You’re a badass. Right now your head is stuck in the clouds and you don’t know who you are yet, but I need you to understand that you are far more independent and capable than you’re letting yourself believe. The moment you find your identity + worth in God, and confidence + appreciation in how He made you, everything will change; and you won’t put up with the b.s. people – especially men – try and throw at you.
10 · Stop rushing. Seriously. Mom and dad were right all those times they said “once it’s gone you can’t get it back.” I know right now at 15 you think that all there really is to life is getting married and having a couple kids, but sorry hun, at 25, you’re not married yet. You think you know exactly who it is, but… he’s not. And that’s okay, y’all are still friends and there are so many things that you love about your life now that never would have happened if it wasn’t for him being in your life all those years. At 25, you’re still trying to figure so much out that you’re honestly okay with where you are. You realize that all the lessons you’ve learned along the way – the joy, the pain, the ups, the downs – have you exactly where you need to be and there’s no point to rushing anything that’s not meant for you yet. In conclusion, even though I might be slightly biased, I think you turned out pretty great. Continue to learn from everything and to enjoy the present, and you’ll do just fine.
Bonus tip: please stop dying your hair out of a box and stop tweezing your eyebrows!!!!