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Letter to My 18 Year Old Self

~~ Philippians 4:13 (NKJV) ~~   I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.



Carla - Age 18 - St. John's, Newfoundland
Have you ever wished you could go back and do things over again?  I do not think I know anyone who has not said at least once in their lives “If I could go back and do it all over again, knowing what I know now, I would do it so differently”.  Maybe just to give yourself some advice would help so very much.  The idea of writing your younger self a letter is hardly a unique one.  I have read letters written by others to themselves and found them to be incredibly interesting, so I thought I would write one for myself.  The process of gathering information and bits of advice; and forming them into this letter, was a lengthy one.  It turns out, though, that this course has been as enlightening to me in the present day, as it would have been to my younger self, but for different reasons.  It seems that I have come through a lot of trials and trauma in my life.  I am a survivor.  I have grown to be a person that is incredibly strong, and I have enough experience to give some very good and practical advice to someone younger.  Most of all, I can see that I have grown, and am still growing, into a woman that I can be proud of. 





Dear Carley,

Well, you are 18 now... legally an adult just starting your life.  I want to give you some advice to prepare you for the life you are about to embark on.  I know what your first thought is... “Who’s Carley?”  Carley is you... me... us!  It is what most people call you now.  It started as a pet name with just a slight change from Carla, and it stuck.  I let it happen because I like it, and I was on a journey to find and heal myself.  I need to create the me that I always knew was inside somewhere longing to get out.  She is the me in our dreams that few others have seen, and she got lost somewhere along the path tangled in the midst of a lot of pain.  I felt that God gave me the new name to go with the new me.  She is you, and one day she will be me again, only better than before.  The journey we are on did not have to be as difficult as it has been, though I am learning to be thankful for it. 

First; know that It is not only OK to be different, but it is cool.  I know that you cannot begin to wrap your brain around that concept right now, but one day you will see that people who are all the same are not original.  Being different makes you special... really!  Let go of all the bad memories from school when the kids laughed at you, made fun of you, and said nasty things.  They had their own hurt inside that they did not know how to deal with, and they took it out on you.  This applies to anyone throughout your life who says mean things to you; and there will be others.  It is not about you.  Let go of the pain before the nightmares start and you need therapy to get rid of them.  It is important to set boundaries for yourself; which you can do without being mean.  Also, keep in mind that others cannot see things from your point of view.  No matter what you say to others, they will not learn what ever lesson you are trying to teach them.  It takes your experiences to create your point of view.  Only you can ever have it.

When you get that letter from MUN, do not turn it down.  You will regret it for the rest of your life.  You do not need to know the whole plan for your life or what your major is before you start university.  Many, if not most, believe it or not, do not know what they want to do even after they start college.  You are not the only one who does not know.  It will help you find yourself, and help you figure out what your dreams are.  Dream big... do not limit yourself.  There are people there who will help you.  Do not focus all your attention on the one dream of becoming a Mother.  It is the equivalent of chasing your own tail.  Put it on the back burner.  Some of your dreams will not come to pass in the format you hope for; and if you continue to push away all other ideas, your life will one day be derailed.  Go to school.  Choose something that will allow you to express your creativity.  We love Interior Design (not Interior Decorating... turns out there is a difference); and toss in some business courses.  Also you will grow to love writing.  No matter what you do in life, business and writing will be useful.  On the side, do some photography courses.  It is so much fun!  Do not delay dreams like sky diving, underwater diving; or taking lessons in music, singing or dancing.  One day you will feel like it is too late.  Oh, and correspondence programs are not the same.  Do not settle for this.

Next, some things that I wish someone would have told me:
  • Now that you have your license, get a car!  Do not put it off. 
  • Travel.  Go anywhere and everywhere.  The world is not as scary as you think it is.  I know that going to St. John’s at first was overwhelming and terrifying; but it does not have to be.  Travelling is an adventure.  Enjoy it.
  • Read more - for at least 30 minutes each day. 
  • Eat right!  Educate yourself on how to achieve and maintain a healthy body.  Stay away from junk food, non-fat or low-fat anything (they are not as wonderful as the media will make you think they are).  Avoid anything made with white flour, or anything that says ‘enriched’.  Above all else avoid artificial sweeteners and processed foods.  If it comes in a box or a bag, chances are you do not want it.  Do your shopping in the produce and meat departments.  Buy only whole-grain breads and such items... not whole-wheat!  They are very important for good health.  Always go organic when you can.  Grab any opportunity to buy farm fresh unprocessed milk products.  Store-bought dairy are filled with chemicals, preservatives, hormones, and antibiotics; all of which are dangerous, and will affect your health!
  • Exercise.  Every day!  Working out does not mean sports!  Go swimming, ride your bike; but you will find that power-walking is something you will fall in love with.  Hold on to it.  Oh, and do sit-ups daily, without fail.
  • Wear a good support bra.  Go to a good lingerie store and get yourself properly fitted for one.  You are not wearing the correct size.  Do not even bother to look at the price tag.  Whatever it says, it is worth it!
  • Do not mix money with friendship or family.  The two just do not mix well so do not even try.
  • When the time comes and you find yourself watching a lot of TV, turn it off!  It is a nasty habit that was very hard for me to break; but now that I have I am so very thankful!
  • Cut up the credit cards.
  • Do not start taking antidepressants.  You have a right to say no.  Also, do not let them keep doing surgeries because of your ovaries.  There are other options.  Do not trust the advice of every doctor you see.  Read, research and know your rights before accepting care from a doctor.  Not all doctors know what they are talking about, even when they sound like they do.
  • When Mom and Dad ask you to move to leave Newfoundland and go to Ontario with them; do not fight it.  It will be one of the best decisions you will ever make.  There is the most amazing world out there that you never imagined was there!
  • Do not put Dad on a pedestal.  The view is not a realistic one.  You will never stop being Daddy’s little girl.
  • Do not let Daphne and John, Charlene or Charlyse drift out of your life.  You will need them one day, and if you do not stay in touch you will have no one to turn to.  Life is lonely without friends.
  • When, Graham comes along, know that you will be a best friends forever.  Do not let anyone tell you that having a guy for a best friend is wrong.  You will share a special friendship that so many do not get in their lifetime.  One day when an argument gets out of hand, do not let him walk out the door without making up first.  Ten years without him was much too long to wait to see my best friend.
  • Shadow belongs with you.  Do not let him go.
  • Roommates – you will have quite a few.  One named Lawrence is bad news!  Do not go there.
  • Learn to enjoy being alone.  I know that is a concept that seems contradictory to you right now.  Loneliness is painful; but it can also be a wonderful time of solitude.  Learn to embrace that or it can eat you alive.
About men - do not believe everything that some sweet talking guy whispers to you... no matter how cute he is.  The boyfriend you have right now is not as loyal as you believe him to be.  Let that relationship go and move on.  I know it is very hard sometimes to tell the difference between lust and love, but they are worlds apart.  When you are young and know you are in love... you are not.  Real love will come along when you are truly ready for it and there will be no doubt.  Do not be so willing to give yourself to a man.  It will not make him love you.  In your twenties you will get an overwhelming amount of attention from men; especially on the beach and in bars, but beware, they are not chasing your heart.  Before you get married, make sure he loves you as much as you love him.  If there is any doubt, then getting married is the wrong thing to do.  Stop worrying about the clock.  There is no rulebook that says it has to happen by a certain age.  It is better to wait than to end up in divorce court on your 30th birthday.  Finally, do not ever, ever, ever, let any man abuse you physically, mentally, emotionally or financially.  Do not give them power over you by falling for the guilt trips.  Be strong.

Paul deserves a special mention.  When he comes along, just know that his ego is just a facade to hide his big heart, but unlike most you will see through it immediately.  He will break your heart more than you ever imagined possible, but do not let that stop you.  You will share a bond that very few other couples in the world ever get to share; seriously!  You will even have people commenting on it on a regular basis.  Despite the heartbreak, the love is worth it.

Partying - drinking yourself stupid will not impress the kind of man you want in your life.  Partying is fun, but you need to keep it in perspective.  One day when Graham ties you to a chair and screams at you, listen to his message.  Do not fight it.  It will change the path your life is on.  Too much booze will bring you a lot of trouble and heartache.

Of all the lessons that you will learn, of all the advice that you can get from me or others; the most important thing and the most important decision that you will ever make is to invite Jesus to live in your heart.  Do it now!  Do not put it off.  Please look to God for all you need.  God wants you to have a relationship with Him.  Yes... a relationship with God!  I know that does not make any sense to you now, but once you open your heart, truly, to Jesus, you will begin to understand.  It will change your life.  Even the world around you will start to look different... more alive somehow.  God loves you!  Being a Christian is not limiting.  In fact, it is freedom.  It’s awesome!

Once Jesus is the focus of your life you will learn many things, understand things with much more clarity and get many blessings.  One of the greatest will be the gift of forgiveness.  However, first you have to understand that it is something you do for yourself, not for others.  This does not mean that you are telling them that what they did to you was OK; but truly forgiving opens up a whole world of new possibilities.  Always choose caring over uncaring, giving over passing by, give the benefit of the doubt over criticism or gossip or judging.  Do not lose faith in people.  They will hurt you, but they also are hurting; it is not about you.  Measure any kind of frustrations from others or indecisions by this standard... “Will this alter my life in 5 years from now... or even 1 year from now?”  If the answer is ‘no’ then do not give it another thought.  It is not important.

Keep smiling.  You are beautiful.  Please do not start hurting yourself because you think you deserve it for not being pretty.  You are wrong.  One day you will see that a lot of people will be telling you that, and they will mean it.  Look in the mirror and tell yourself “I am a child of God.  I am beautiful.”  Then, believe it!  Every time you hurt yourself, or belittle yourself, it hurts God.  Do not let go of that bubbly personality that so many keep telling you is why they fell in love with you.  If you hide her inside, one day you will not know how to let her out again.  Life can get very lonely after that.

Do not ever quit!  Hold on to your dreams.  Follow your heart and do not be influenced by others; not even Mom and Dad.  You have to live in your body and live your life.  Do not ever hurt anyone to get there, but you have to make yourself happy first.  Learn to push yourself... hard!  You will come to treasure that about yourself.  Do not let anyone tell you that Prince Charming does not exist, or that any of your dreams is not realistic.  Anything is reasonable if you work hard and let God lead the way.  Do not let anyone talk you into limiting yourself like that.

So, my wonderfully innocent and naive young self, if you take nothing else from this message, just remember these things... first, that person who was hurting you before is the bad person.   It is not your fault.  Repeat after me “it is not my fault”.  You did nothing wrong.  Next, invite Jesus to be the center of your world, and learn to dance in the rain; because the rest will take care of itself in God’s wonderful timing.

Love always, 
Me



 ~~ Dear God ~~    I know that I cannot go back and change my life.  I also know that no matter what plan I may have, what advice I may be given; that the plan You have already prepared for my life is the perfect path.  Despite all the bad decisions, wrong turns, disobedience, and sin that have caused so much pain and trauma; I know that You are leading me on my journey.  Thank You, Father for this journey.  Please teach me with each and every step all the lessons that I need to know to get closer to You.  Open my eyes and ears; along with my mind and my heart to be anxious, willing and able to receive the Holy Spirit.  Make me a disciple for Jesus that will make You proud.  In Jesus name, AMEN.



 

49 comments :

  1. You know, I actually don't have any regrets, so I guess I don't know what I would say. I have lived my life as I wish on my own terms, since I was a teenager, and so far so good. Whatever happened back then seems to have served me well thus far. So should I say, keep up the good work?

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  2. That was a beautiful entry. I will have to think about what I will tell my 18 year old self. There is not a lot that I would change about my life. Thank you for giving me something to think about and reflect on. Be blessed!

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  3. Thank you so very much friends. I'm always in awe of people who knew at such a young age that they had options I'm just so grateful that I found Jesus before it was too late.

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  4. Slow down! I spent the first 25 or so years of my life wishing that I was older, married, had kids, etc. And now that I'm married and have kids (who I love SOOOO much and wouldn't change it for the world) time seems to go by soooo fast. I wish I could have told myself to be happy with where I was in life!

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  5. ASHOAF1 - I had a painful childhood in so many parts of it. I grew up in a very isolated place. I was happy for a good part of my life though, but it was based on the wrong things. But at 45, and realizing my dreams didn't come to pass it can be a difficult thing to wrap your mind around. I never knew as a young person that I had options. But I am thankful for the path that I have been taken on because without it I may not have found Jesus, and with out Him, nothing matters anyway.

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  6. Dear Self,

    You are RIGHT about most of the things you think and want to do. Just do it. People will be irritated with you even when you do everything they want you to. You are spending a lot of time and energy trying to please people who don't care about you. and even if they do care, it's your life.

    Oh, and P.S. - Just finish college in less than 10 years, for crying out loud. Try the English major earlier. You'll like it. :) You can do it.

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  7. HINCTYBEAT - Thanks for sharing. I like your story! Hugs.

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  8. Hi Carly, I liked reading your letter to your 18-year-old self. It got me thinking. I'm impressed with your honesty and openness, I wonder if our 18-year-old selves could have handled that then? Anyway, thanks for the post!

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  9. ANNE - As I wrote this letter I wondered if it could really happen, would I, or could I, have handled getting this letter. Maybe I would have thought I just turned out to be crazy! lol Either way, it is the path I've been taken on that has led me to where I am, and my current relationship with Jesus. I wouldn't want to give that up for anything.

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  10. I think that I would tell myself to be more patient with myself and others. Love God, and family......be grateful for the days when your children are young.

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  11. BeatleBear... I hear you about the patients thing. It is one the hardest lessons that God has had to teach me! Thank you so much for sharing. Hugs.

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  12. Good Blog!

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  13. Thank you Fit_Artist... I'm glad you like it. Hugs.

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  14. Different people have different levels of maturity,especially when they're 18!
    Some would welcome the advice but others would scoff at it.
    We all have different paths to follow and lessons to learn-some harder then others.
    I know I would change a lot of stuff if I could,but at the same time my experiences made me who I am,and some hard ones made me a more understanding person of what others go through, so I don't judge as fast, and I try to remember how I felt and thought.
    Good blog that made me think :-) but also made me remember nasty stuff. :-(
    Awesome
    Thank you

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  15. WOW Thanks for sharing!!! That was awsume!!!! I don't think I could do as good a job writing to myself as you have. I'm speechless!! Great. Hugs

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  16. Sparklise... you are so right. That old saying that goes something like "What doesn't kill you makes you stronger"... is so right. I am learning that more and more; and I truly am thankful to God for it. I'm sorry for making you remember some nasty things. I didn't want to make anyone sad. Hugs.

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  17. CindyLou... thank you so very much for the wonderful feedback. It took me quite some time to actually write this. I kept a list of tidbits of info that I would want to include. I added to the list now and then as things crossed my mind. Then, when I was ready I spent a day writing the article. Hugs

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  18. After I read your letter, Carley, one word came into my thoughts, over and over: incredible. I am in awe...
    Hugs

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  19. KASEYCOFF - Thank you so very much for your incredibly kind words. I am so happy that you liked it. Hugs

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  20. I think I would tell myself to wait to get married.

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  21. Thanks for the comment MARIUCCA. There is always so much that we think we would do different. However, truth is, I wouldn't want to change it without knowing what the new outcome would be. I would be willing to guess that I would likely choose the same path. I read some where that most people when they're asked if they want their own life or that of someone else they know... they always chose their own life. I think the path God has led me on is the best one to get the best outcome in the end... which is to get close to God.

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  22. I would tell my younger self, that dead end job you take don't become addicted to the slurpee's and don't eat the wrote off hoagies and written off cookies.. no matter how depressed you are at the job its not worth all that time on the treadmill to attempt to take off those 80 lbs you gain there..

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  23. Sounds like awesome advice Cathy. Thanks for sharing; and thanks so much for the feedback. Hugs.

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  24. Wow, I wish I heard these word 28 years ago. They ring true for my earlier life and my present self.

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  25. Hi Carley,

    Good for you, it is a fabulous idea to write to ourselves (our inner child)and try to resolve issues for the past. Because if we don't try those issues may rear their ugly heads when we don't want them too. So again good for you. Excellent letter.

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  26. When I was 18, I used to brag that I could eat any man under the table (meaning I had a voracious appetite). My metabolism was so high, it didn't show until I hit 30. I wish I had known!

    Also, I'd tell my 18 year old self to beware of "love" that hurts. If I feel guilty or afraid often, I need to get out of the relationship. I could have saved myself a whole lot of heartache with that one!

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  27. StrawberrylassSeptember 02, 2011

    Excellent idea, fabulous letter. Way to go Carley.

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  28. Anon... It is so true. Years after I thought something was long gone and forgotten, it turns out that it is more a part of my life than I realized. That's when therapy was forced to kick in. But God is good... He does not waste anything. It will all be for the good in the end. Thanks for the feedback. I so very much appreciate it. Hugs.

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  29. Denise... I've often thought that 'it's too bad that hindsight is 20/20... why couldn't we see things clearly from the beginning? But then, I guess we would never learn anything." Thanks for sharing your story. I really like your comments. Hugs.

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  30. Strawberrylass - Thank you so very much for the feedback. I am inspired to keep writing and telling my stories by the feedback that I receive. Hugs.

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  31. Sparklela - I'm so happy that you were able to relate to my story. Thank you for the comments. Hugs.

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  32. Appreciate what you have, you look pretty good, kid.

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  33. Very thought provoking and a great blog! Thanks for sharing!

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  34. loved your letter..............awesome!!!
    thanks for sharing............one thing perhaps i would say is to make sure i took care of me first instead of others first...........

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  35. get counselling cause you are worthy of being loved

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  36. SEDONACAT - That is some of the best advice we could give any younger person, not just our younger self. Thanks so much for sharing. Hugs.

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  37. Thanks so much SERENEMOM71... it makes me very happy to know that my words can affect others so much. I pray that you are blessed by them. Thanks. Hugs.

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  38. LITA - Thank you so much for the wonderful comments. I am always thrilled to hear that my writings can affect others so much. Thank you. You are so right about taking care of yourself first. Way to many people figure that out way too far into their lives.

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  39. SHOAPIE - Thanks for the feedback. I am happy you enjoyed it. Hugs.

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  40. HEATLW - You are indeed worthy of being loved. If someone could have told you, and me both, at a young age that we were worthy of being loved, we would be a different people now, with different lives. Thanks for sharing. Hugs.

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  41. I agaree with Lita! Learn to take care of ourselves first before taking care of everyone else. The second thing would be to take the weight off when you are young, it is much harder the older you get.

    Someone probably told us these things, we just didn't listen.

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  42. NANABE, you are so right. I've wondered how often someone tried to tell me things and I didn't listen. lol That might be another lesson to tell ourselves... LISTEN to your elders! lol Thanks for the feedback. I'm happy that you liked it. Hugs.

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  43. very fun! got me thinking!

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  44. Awesome! I'm glad to hear that. I hope it blesses you. Hugs.

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  45. Stay in shape... It's hard when you haven't stayed in shape!

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  46. JukeBox... ain't that the truth! If only I would have fallen in love with working out back then, instead of waiting 20 years for it to happen! lol

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  47. Dear Carley,

    Carly, this letter was a blessing to my heart today. I'm an older mom (51) with a young daughter (7). There are so many things on my heart that I'd like to know, but I worry I amy not have the chance. You've given me the vehicle I need to accomplishg my heart's desire... a series of letters to myself at various ages.

    THANK YOU!

    May today and every day bring to you a ridiculous abundance of whatever you need. May all your concerns, struggles, anxieties and fears fall like ashes as you rise on eagle's wings, SOARING above all that would hinder you along this tremendous adventure of being and becoming all you are created to be. May the grace of God simply "overtake" you moment by moment. May the joy and victory of the risen Lord be yours in a very personal way... may you always be overwhelmed by the grace of God, rather than by the cares of life! AMEN.

    {{{{{{{{{{ HUGS }}}}}}}}}
    Ramona

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    1. Thank you Ramona. The fact that you were reading this and leaving a comment at the moment when you did was a blessing to me today. There is no doubt in my mind that you were directed by God to tell me these things in that moment. Thank you so very much.

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