A Letter to My Younger Self

Beth at age 14

During my thespian days

 

Dear Beth,
At fourteen, you know very little about the world. You are growing up in a small insular community where everyone you know has known you since birth. Until this year you’ve been relatively healthy, so the mysterious pains and exhaustion are overwhelming you. There’s so much you want to see and do, but the physical problems make you feel as though you are going to die soon. It doesn’t help that no one seems to believe you’re in pain. Well, except your kindly doctor who believes it’s Rheumatoid Arthritis and declares you’ll be in a wheelchair by the age of 25.
It’s going to be a rough life as you get older; however, there will be some really awesome points as well. You’ll end up floating between doctors for 23 years looking for answers. But you’ll also have some incredible opportunities in writing and theater in the meantime. Not many writers can say they attended workshops with John Irving or took a class from Jane Smiley. Just as not many budding actors can say they won a trophy at All-State Speech contest. You really do have talent, kid.
Do you remember when you were seven and you thought Grandpa Ferree showed up to see you the day after he died? You remember what he told you, don’t you? He said you would one day have a great deal of influence, but you’d be much older before you realized your potential because it was something that required a lot of wisdom you don’t yet have. I now know for certain that event really happened because your life is going to unfold in such a way as to make it undeniable. Right now, you think it was just the silly dream of a child. But, that’s because the adults around you told you it was.
At this time, you’re looking to Mom and Dad for answers they don’t have. Unfortunately, it will take years for you to come to terms with this and realize they are just as human as you. It’s okay, you’re a kid and you still think the adults know what’s going on. Can I tell you a secret? They don’t know any more than anyone else when confronted with a new experience. Your illness is a new experience for them. Hell, I’m pretty sure YOU are a new experience for them. You’ve always been strong-willed; even more so than your brothers. Well, most of them anyway. I’m pretty sure at least one of them gave them more than a few “Come to Jesus” moments.
I really want you to know it’s going to be all right. Do you remember when Grandma said you have some very special gifts? Those gifts will be what gets you through some of the toughest times of your life. Not just your ability to read people; but also, your determination to fight for the underdog. That sense of justice will lead you to fight for what’s right while your intuitive abilities will get you out of some very tough situations.
When you reach your fifties, you’ll discover that everything you’re beginning to go through now is necessary. All the pain, and the joy will lead you to a place where people will not only accept you for who you are, they will embrace you. Incredibly, they will listen to your wisdom and learn from what you share with them. Just as Grandpa told you that night in 1968.
Right now, you want to be famous. Later you’ll learn that fame is relative. While you might not be recognized on the street by strangers you will be recognized by those who are most important. These are the people with whom you will change the world.
Oh, and don’t worry so much about religion! Being saved has nothing to do with accepting Jesus and everything to do with accepting yourself.

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