Thursday, September 8, 2016

Dear Ella and my 10-year-old self,

Neither of you know this yet, but you're pretty awesome.

You're heading off to middle school today which so far in your life is about the biggest jump in independence you've ever experienced.  You will be traveling to and from school without your mom.  You will have to keep track of your schedule, find your classes, watch the clock, remember your gym clothes, navigate cafeteria lines all on your own.

But worst of all, you'll need to survive the most feared animal on the planet: the middle school girl.  They can be nasty.  Hormones are raging, territories are being marked, lines are being pushed.  You'll all be testing every limit to see what you can get away with.  Yes, you too.  You're not immune to the pull to define yourself compared to others.  You'll also need to figure out your rung on the ladder of middle school life, and beyond.  You may do things that you're not proud of.  You'll very likely have things done and said to you that hurt.

But I hope you can hear me when I tell you, beg you, to stay the sweet, curious, brave girl you are right now.  Listen to what they say.  Watch what they do.  But stay true to yourself.  Learn from their mistakes and make yourself better in spite of them.  Because of them.  Take what they teach you, the good and the bad, and apply it to your life.  When someone kindly invites you to sit at their table, remember to invite someone else to sit at your table tomorrow, too.  When they call you names, remind yourself to never treat anyone else that way.  Apologize honestly whenever you even suspect you've caused harm.

Stay away from self-doubt.  I'll always be here to remind you that you are already uh-mazing!  My favorite thing about you is that you're insatiably curious.  You want to know more, understand things.  You love to travel and see the world and experience new places and cultures.  Sure, you can be moody and introverted, but that just means that you're figuring stuff out on the inside.  Getting it right before letting it out.  You have a deepness to you already that tells me you're going to be alright.

Mostly, I want you to have fun.  Enjoy these new freedoms!  Make lots of new friends.  Put yourself out there.  Take risks, they give better rewards.  Let the world see what I see - a rock solid friend, an adventurous, creative spirit, and a brave soul.  Keep the confidence you already have.  It's easy for it to get shaky during these years.  Leave the stress to Dad and me.  We're your net.  Your job is to fly.

You got this.

Mom/my 45-year-old self

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