My Promise to You: A Letter to My 14 Year Old Self
Happy birthday, Meagan!
Geez, you’re already 14 years old with high school looming over your head like a rain cloud. Your first day of band camp starts in about 3 weeks and the knots in your stomach tighten knowing that for the next 4 years, you’ll be giving a good chunk of your summers away to band. “Is it worth it?” you wonder. Without a doubt, I guarantee it will be, but I must warn you that during the first two years, you’ll question whether or not that’s true.
I hate to say it, but freshman year is going to suck.
Junior high wasn’t bad; you spent most of it at your best friend, Sonja’s, house. You did everything together: sleepovers, band, and even a trip to disney world. Her parents call you their daughter because the two of you can’t operate without the other nearby. You two were, well, technically you still are, inseparable.
But that is going to end soon.
I can feel your heart breaking. You can’t imagine a world without Sonja. What will you do on the weekends? Who’s going to listen to you complain about your parents? Most importantly, why won’t you be inseparable anymore?
That is the question I haunted myself with for my first two years of high school.
The easiest answer I can give you is that there really isn’t a reason why. I know that’s not a satisfying answer because you’ll be suffering through the hurt; an answer at least gives some closure. The harder answer, I have to explain through a story. Because a simple, wise answer won’t suffice.
During your freshman year, Sonja and you will have the same bus to school. Makes sense, considering you live a block away from each other. You’ll make a deal with each other to wait on the corner of Kelso St.–the street that sits between your two houses. Together, you’ll then walk to the bus stop.
This routine will occur for many weeks. But the conversations will get shorter–the silence louder. Soon enough you’ll walk together in complete silence to the bus stop. And finally, she’ll stop waiting for you on the corner of Kelso st. You’ll stand there, thinking she’s late. You’ll walk to the bus stop alone, having given up on her. “She must be sick today,” you’ll think. But as you arrive at the bus stop, there she’ll already be.
“Why didn’t you wait for me?” you’ll ask her.
“It’s faster to go a different way,” she’ll reply.
She isn’t wrong. Her way to the bus stop saves her about a minute and half as opposed to walking to Kelso St. But this won’t make you feel any better.
I tell you this story out of all the stories I have about the end of Sonja’s and your friendship because this story in particular represents what happens to that friendship.
It simply fades.
There isn’t a cutoff date. There isn’t a formal goodbye. Like the end scene to a good movie, your friendship will fade to black. And most importantly, and even harder to accept, there isn’t a reason why other than, even good movies have to end.
You’re worried now about the upcoming years. Yes, you’ll be tested on your emotional strength. You’ll long for your junior high years when every weekend was spent laughing at stupid jokes, talking about stupid boys with Sonja. You’re going to question your self worth. You’ll feel useless, unattractive, and unwanted as you pull away from your friends. You’ll find yourself writing stories in your head, spending hours in your bed whisking yourself to a world only you’ll know about. You’ll begin to lose hope that this world has anything left for you.
But with this dark letter, I give you the light at the end of the tunnel I did not have at your age: the promise that it truly does get better.
You’re 14 for crying out loud. You haven’t even had your first kiss yet! There is so much more to explore, to feel, to need, that you can’t give up now. It may not seem like there’s hope, but there is so much hope in everything around you that you practically run into it whenever you walk.
There are promises to trips to New York and California. Promises of graduating from college and having your writings featured on websites. And band is going to be the best thing that you’ve ever been a part of because my final promise to you: the man you’ll marry is someone you’ll meet on your very first day of band camp.
You’re just going to have to wait out the hurt to find these promises.
So enter band camp with confidence. Yes, you will have trials. Yes, you will endure a lot of pain. But you will emerge the fighter you are and take on the real world–a world you’ll eventually love more than the one in your head.
Meagan – 10 years later