If I had the chance to talk to my younger self, I would simply tell her I am proud of her. She would stare at me with confusion, ignoring my statement, wondering how she had changed so much over the years.
“Mom let you get a nose piercing?” she would ask.
I would shake my head and laugh, telling her that Mom has started to let us spread our wings. And although she wishes she could wrap us in bubble wrap forever, she knows she has to let us go. I would tell my younger self to not be so afraid of change and what the future holds as she flinches away from the words.
“Change is scary though. Do we move again?” she’d prompt.
“Not in the way that you think.”
I would tell her that we are moving on in life, and onto the next adventure. Explaining that we are in the stage where it is time to make a new path for ourselves and continue without Mom and Dad guiding our every step. Sure, it is scary, but they have done nothing but love and support us through our new ventures down in Florida.
“Hold on a second, Florida?” she would ask.
I would smile, shaking my head, and explain that we got into our dream school and will be moving to Gainesville in the summer. My younger self would beam with pride, knowing that she worked hard to get to the place that we are in now.
But I would be disingenuous if I didn’t tell her all the hardships that come before the successes. I’d explain the global pandemic and the relentless isolation that came with it, and our battles with depression. I’d caution her from giving her heart to everyone because not everyone values it as much as we think. But even through all of this, we have remained strong and have become a person that we can say we are proud of.
“Now, this fight is not over! You still have to keep fighting every day,” I would explain.
She would stomp her feet and roll her eyes, saying that she is tired of fighting, and that giving up is so much easier. But I would tell her, if you aren’t doing it for yourself, then do it for Mom. Do it for all of the blood, sweat and tears she has put into making sure we have good lives. Do it for Rhea, who is your best friend and who you want to set a good example for. Do it for Dad, who encourages you to be the best person possible and take the high ground ‘cause you are stronger than you think. Do it for Roman and Reece, who need a big sister to show them the way and how to be good men. But most of all, you should be doing it for yourself.
“You are way different than I am now. I can’t wait to be like you,” she would say.
I’d grow bashful and tell her she’s flattering me (well… us) and repeat my prior sentiment: “I am so proud of you.”
“Well, I am proud of you,” she’d respond.
You should be.