Dear Younger Monica,
Here you are, thirteen years old and so much ahead of you! You have started seventh grade with quite a bit of trepidation…who are you and what is your place in this vast world? You have friends who are confident and bold, but you are reserved and more laid-back. Your dream is to become a wonderful ballerina and dance on stage – to feel the exhilaration of performing something that you love and to bring joy to others. The problem is, you’re really not cut out to be a dancer. Your ankles are too weak for pointe shoes and you are not flexible. Sorry – truth hurts. I don’t think mom wanted to say anything to you, for fear she’d hurt your feelings, but I’m sure she would have encouraged other pursuits if you hadn’t been so passionate about ballet, and of course wanting to do what everyone else was doing.
Now listen, I know that dancing brought you great joy and you had lots of fun performing, but do you remember the first time you ran hurdles in gym class? Or the 50-yard dash that you ran in mere seconds? Do you remember the thrill of the high-jump and practicing over and over again? Try out for the track team! Maybe I’m telling you this because when you are 38, you’ll have just completed your first half marathon and loved it, or maybe it’s because I know what else you could have been passionate about.
Be yourself! Look for talents and passions that bring YOU joy. Don’t worry so much about what your friends will think of you. I think part of you didn’t want to stand out – to be different than everyone else around you. But guess what? It’s okay to shine sometimes! It’s okay to be the one that people marvel about. It is okay to do something different and unexpected. Just always remember that you are the best you and no one else can be who you are meant to be. A copy is never as good as the original – don’t try to be what you are not. You don’t need to be the best at everything, just do the best that you can do. Be grateful for talents you have been given and cultivate them.
You are going to have a wonderful life full of experiences you cannot even fathom right now. Jump in with both feet! Be bold, be brave, be yourself!
The Older (and Wiser) Monica