This weekend I celebrated the big Two Five birthday. A whole quarter of a century. Sounds really old, right? :) Well, ten years ago I thought it was! If you had asked me when I was 15 where I would be in ten years, I would have said "I'll be married, have two kids (a girl already here and her sister on the way), own my own business, and clearly I will have made my first million by then." Well, 25 is here. And I am nowhere that I thought I would be, but I'm everywhere that I want to be.
Dear 15 year-old Emily,
You are such a planner that it makes me laugh sometimes. You think you have your life all planned, but believe me, the journey has a few detours. No worries, though. You will end up in a better place than you could have imagined.
Right now you think you'll go to Lipscomb and be a physical therapist. Ha! Well, I don’t want to spoil any big surprises for you, but let’s just say a different school will win your heart and that Chemistry will NOT be fun.
Oklahoma Christian University, where the physical therapy dream lasted about six weeks. Four majors later, I found my home in Marketing.
Those white oxfords that you wear to high school every day with a red, white, or navy ribbon in your high, preppy pony tail? Well, you will still wear white oxfords sometimes. But now they are paired with high heels and pearls.
You think that making good choices will simply keep you out of trouble, but they will carry you so much farther than you know.
You are thoughtful and smart and have more reasons to be confident than you think. In fact, your 25 year-old self still needs that reminder sometimes.
Your great relationship with your parents and sisters that everyone says is temporary? That teenagers will undoubtedly go through an anti-family phase? You don't have to. In fact, you never will.
Mom is still beautiful. And you will learn to love like her.
Hawaii, January 2012
Dad is still cool. And you will learn to be confident like him.
Your sisters are still your best friends. And you will learn to be passionate like them.
Those friendships that you are making now and investing your heart into? People say you'll lose touch after graduation. That few relationships will last past the move to college. They are wrong. Those friendships are irreplaceable and you are smart enough to never let them go. And they are still your dearest friends today.
High School Graduation, 2005
Senior Banquet, 2005
Senior Banquet Karaoke, 2005
(This picture is only hilarious if you know both of us and the fact that I absolutely cannot sing! I believe we were singing Britney Spears' "Sometimes")
Graduation Party, 2005
And you will be so blessed with more incredible relationships. You will meet people in the next ten years who will change your heart forever.
Times Square, 2007
Thurch Girls, Summer 2012
And, oh Emily, you have no idea how independent you are. Your roots run deep. But those wings? They'll surprise you. You are so self-sufficient. You'll move around the country a few times on your own.
East Hampton, 2004
East Hampton, 2007
The Fund for American Studies: Georgetown, Washington D.C., 2008
Oklahoma Christian University, 2008
And you'll cry the first few nights. You'll forget luggage. You'll get lost more often than you'll like. You'll make plenty of "how do I fix it"calls to Daddy and more than plenty "I miss you" calls to Mom. You'll make silly mistakes, but you'll make it just fine. You're stronger than you think.
You'll hold out for true love. And now? Your last name is still the same. And you are more than happy about that. And it is so worth it.
And those dreams that are way out there on the horizon? The dreams that your teachers and family and mentors believe are possible long before you can ever even imagine them? They are like wildflowers that will soon be planted in your heart. They are just waiting for a space to grow. And they will surely grow.
A Few of my Awesome High School Teachers, 2005
The spiritual journals that you are keeping now? Some days you'll look back and see how far you've come. And other days you'll look back and learn from who you used to be.
You'll have a lot of fun.
Hanging out on the Farm, 2004
OC Spring Sing, 2006
Keith Urban Concert, Summer 2011
White Water Rafting on the Yellowstone River, Summer 2011
Sky Diving, Fall 2011
Parasailing, Spring 2011
Surfing, Winter 2012
Canoeing, Summer 2012
And love a lot of people.
High School Pals, Summer 2011
Bonfire with Hometown Friends, Fall 2011
Thurch Group, Fall 2011
Thurch Group, Summer 2012
Grandparent's 60th Wedding Anniversary, Fall 2011
Fall Festival with the Cousins, 2011
Nephews, Winter 2012
Family, Thanksgiving 2011
Cousins, Christmas 2007
And learn a lot of things. Like that talent isn't just what you see on a stage (thank goodness) and beauty isn't defined by what you wear and value isn't determined by the guy who likes you. In fact nothing determines any of that except for your heart and Who owns it.
And you think that you are still waiting on your story to begin. Dear girl, you are already living it. And God always writes beautiful stories.
You will learn and grow and trust and let your plans fly out the window so that God's plans can settle in and make themselves at home.
But Emily, you really don't need to know any of that stuff right now because you'll figure it all out with more smiles than tears and more confidence than fears. Just keep seeking. Keep loving. And by all means, keep on living passionately. And this life you are living right now? It's only the beginning!