The idea came from Dave Dean
The 35-year-old wrote a letter to the younger version of himself—dating back 12 years. As I sat down to write to the 13-year-old Chele (10 years back), my mind went blank. I believe it is how I’ve coped with the pain of being 13—I merely forgot. I barely remember my attitude, or even my outlook on life for that matter. My environment, my friends, the last few months with my father, it was all so toxic and destructive that by the time I moved in with my mother, it was as if my soul disappeared and I was given the chance to create a new one through cognitive therapy, room to dream and exercise. At 13, I didn’t understand fresh air, or the joy of helping others. I was drugged up on sleeping pills and drowning in an overwhelming amount of emotions that at the time, made no sense. It would be at the age of 14, that I would begin my ascent to the Chele I am today. The three years I spent regaining my awareness of life weren’t easy. They were also full of doubt, self-reflection, terrible decisions, jealousy and grief. However, they were also full of discovery, my fitness instructor certification, my first half-marathon, the adoption of two beautiful dogs, and a few interesting boyfriends, to say the least. I’ve chosen to write a letter to the 17-year-old Chele as it was at that time I started to discover what it really meant to be a positive influence and an independent old soul. Regardless, a lot has changed.
Dear 17 year old Chele,
So. Let’s start off superficial, it’ll be easy for you to relate. Your fashion does indeed improve. You’ll never fit in with the new, or the bold. You’re an old soul and no matter what they say, Indian/hippie, calm colors and wind-dried beach hair will always be you—stop buying dresses off of Victoria’s Secret. It’s killing your mother’s bank account. You may work 3 jobs but soon enough it’s all going to that life-saving 4runner you’re about to buy, that you eventually roll on the Interstate going 75+ mph when you get home from your Round The World trip. Forget the traumatizing SUV accident, you heard me right, a RTW trip. You don’t know it yet but you’re a traveler at heart and soon enough, just going out of state for University, won’t be enough.
Stop envying your skinny girlfriends. Things change. Trust me.
Smile. You really do look sinful when you don’t smile. Mom is going to teach you something about confidence and business. She’ll point it out when you’re stilling at a Starbucks people watching.
Zane is getting big, I know. It’s weird being an aunt isn’t it? And now Jada? You better start getting involved, this aunt thing is only going to get bigger and brighter.
Speaking of children, I have to quote blogger/traveler, inspiration of this letter, Dave. (Yep, other people can teach us a lot.) Chele, “maturity isn’t always a virtue. People have been telling you how mature you are for years. They’re going to keep doing it for quite a few years more, too. Teachers and parents would like you to think that’s a virtue and I know that you’ve managed to convince yourself of that now as well. Hey, guess what? Fast-forward to 2011 and we’ll hear people telling us that we’re immature instead. Why? Because we eventually figured out that maturity can easily be a euphemism for boring if we’re not careful.” The world is out there, waiting for you to discover it. You’ll never be able to see anything if you don’t get your panties out of a wad and start running into the unknown.
You may think you keep losing friends. You are. You’ll lose even more as you get to college. Keep in mind this is because of the phases at which time decided you go through at a different pace than your friends. As you were done partying at 14, your peers were just getting started. They can’t connect with you, and that’s okay. It feels lonely however I have faith you’ll turn that loneliness into sincere solitude. In a few years, you’re going to sift through the madness and surround yourself with only the best.
There’s a lot to learn. It’ll always be this way. Even when you’re 23. So promise me this and understand it. Read every book on that list. When you’re with the right man, you’ll actually know it. Do everything you’re afraid to do. Continue harvesting that self-discipline and leave room to breath. Kill em’ with kindness. Social media can be a huge waste of time. Become a vegetarian, or at least try. Let them doubt you, and deliver inspiration. Plan your next move without telling anyone, the independence is addicting. There will be a few rude awakenings. Accept them. Because from here on, it’s onwards and upwards, and no one has the power to stop you, but you. You are 100% accountable for every move you make.
I may not sound like I’m on the same page as you are right now, but things change. Education is key. Experience will save you. So, what the hell are you waiting for?
Move. Move. Move.
Girl, I’ve never loved you so much.