Dear 18 year old Chelsey,
I just got back from visiting your old college campus, and I have to say — times have changed. It amazes me how much has happened in your life in the last five years. You are continually blessed beyond belief to have family and friends that love and support you in all your endeavors. When I went back to those places you called home for so long, so many memories came flooding back immediately. The sights, the smells, the carefree lifestyle — believe me, you’ll miss them (but not too much).
When you left for college, you were scared — and right about now, you’re still having a hard time finding your place in your new surroundings. Give it time — you’ll end up loving every minute. The four years you are spending at college is worth every student loan you will be paying off for the next 10 years (although your husband begs to differ).
I cannot stress enough right now how you need to go out and live every moment to the fullest. Your boyfriend will still love you even if you don’t make it home every other weekend. I also give you permission to make choices you perhaps would never have made if you were living under your parents’ roof. The independence you are gaining, and the lessons you are learning are far more valuable than “playing it safe” every second of your life.
Somewhere along the road, you’re going to lose the love of your life — and your spirit — almost simultaneously. You won’t see it now, but it’s for the best. It is going to make you stronger in the end, even if it takes years to regain your spirit. You are going to experience many dark days and wonder how others can’t see the pain in your eyes. I never thought that you were that good at hiding your emotions, but I know you were broken for a long time. Staying busy and working yourself to the ground will only hide the emptiness for so long. The days that you finally look in the mirror and face who you have become will be a slap in the face. I know you won’t recognize yourself — but I still love you.
Don’t doubt the hard decisions you have made, even when other scoff at your choices. Throughout this period of your life, you are more than likely going to hit rock bottom before you can start to pick the pieces up again. It will take time — we all know Rome wasn’t built in a day. Don’t worry, when your pieces are being picked back up, he will be one of the the missing links. Rest assured, you’re going to marry that boy (even though I know you knew it all long — you’re so stubborn.).
Although you fought her at the time, you will soon know that Mom was (always) right. The second you took God out of your focus, the rest of your world crumbled. Keep your eyes on Him.
There are days now that I wish you would have respected and loved yourself more, trusted yourself more. There is only one you — and yes, you’re beautiful just the way you are. Smile more, laugh often, tell everyone you love them, and ask for help when you need it (that’s always been a downfall of yours). You couldn’t be more perfect (even though you don’t believe it yourself most days). I am so glad you’re the only me there will ever be.
Question: If you had to go back 5 years in your life, what would you tell yourself?