Oh, 16 year old Sarah…
You are a junior in high school and just moved to Great Falls, Montana this past summer. This will be your toughest year academically you’ve yet had because you’re such a perfectionist. You develop a deep love for coffee this year, especially caramel lattes. This semester you control the lighting design for King Lear and it will be the last involvement you have with theater. This is also your last year in band, but you make it a great one as a member of all-state orchestra.
You babysit a lot and nanny for the sweetest kids, but when the deaf boy you watch falls at the park and bites through his tongue you have the most stressful time of your life so far trying to get him help and learn what happened. It all works out well, but it scares you enough that you vividly remember that day a decade later.
You intern at the church, planning the retreats and weekly events. You love it.
You tell everyone when they ask that you want to go to the University of Alabama. You don’t, you attend the University of Montana and you grow a lot. You want to study political science and history and attend law school; one day you want to become the Secretary of State. You don’t; you major in communication studies and minor in political science, history and nonprofit administration. Your dreams change, but your love of political science and history never go away.
Sixteen year old you is full of big dreams and idealism. That never changes. You still are an idealist and you still have big dreams – only now your dreams are about helping adolescents and becoming an advocate for reformed mental health care services in our country instead of influencing international policy. Your dreams are also about your family and traveling the world with your amazing fiance – remember that senior you had a crush on in Prattville? Well, through the power of social media, y’all reconnect and end up together. The world is crazy and small, but you already know that. It’s just crazy how life works out.
Sarah, keep dreaming and continue being open to new experiences and the adventures that life throws at you. Life will surprise you in many ways continually for the rest of your life. Stay true to your values and be strong in who you are and how you want to live your life. It all becomes more beautiful than you could have imagined even if its completely different that you ever dreamed it could be.
26 year old Sarah