Sunday, June 7, 2015

A response to my 13 year old self

For context: Every year for the past ten years (on my birthday) I have written a letter to myself  one, five, or ten years into the future (sometimes all three or some other combination). This past birthday I opened my first letter from ten years in the past. I have decided that rather than sharing the actual text of the letter with you, I'm going to write a letter "back" to myself, which will be more fun. :)

Dear Thirteen year old Emily -
Do I remember you? Of course, though not as clearly as I'd like to ("old age" will do that to a person). I agree with your opening statement - Hermione Granger is a pretty cool person, and Emma Watson (the actress who portrayed her that you say you want to write a fan letter) is very cool as well - check out this amazing speech she gave at the UN this past year! (

You ask a lot of questions about people - let me see if I can help answer some of them. First, yes, me and Ben are still thick as thieves when it comes to being cousins, though things like jobs and graduate school make our conversations probably something that you would say is "boring" as compared to the imaginative games we played in the basement when I was you. Yes, Emma, Chelsea and LA are still your friends - in fact, you ask about them being married - not yet, but you'll probably be surprised to hear that "little Tommy Belliveau" (you know, in Abigail's grade in Sunday School?) - well, Tommy and LA are getting married in just three weeks! I know, you think LA is destined for another (cough cough). Well, little Em, times change, and boys change, and they're not as important as you think they are. Besides, little Tommy turns into a pretty cool guy one you stop thinking of him as "Abigail's friend". Here's a secret: it's OK for you and Abigail to share friends. I know that's a hard concept, but I promise you, it's OK.

You say that you hope we go all the way to senior year in GCT, and ask me about all the boys in the class - like I said, those boys aren't as important as you think they are! Sure, you still know where some of them are thanks to Instagram and Facebook, but things changed. One of the biggest things, little Em, is that you're not going to stay in Granite - you're going to the big public school down the road. Now, before you gasp and cry (which I know is what you'd do if you could read this letter), please let me tell you that going to that high school was one of the BEST things you have ever done with your life. In high school, you'll be challenged a lot - you'll meet friends who help you learn how to share the gospel in love (yay, Dave, Julie, and my year's Tim Team girls!), who will challenge your thinking and encourage you to grow, and, with the help of one of the best teachers you'll ever have (thank you, Mrs. OC!), you'll discover something that you're passionate about (computers!) that you would never have found otherwise.

Little Em, I know you won't understand anything that I just said - and there's some things I don't know if I would tell you about, given your age. Things like what being lesbian means (don't ask!), what drinking is like and how to keep it in control (yeah, I know you hate the smell of beer - there's other drinks out there, Dad just doesn't like them), and other stories and adventures that will just come with age. But, little Em, here are some things that I will tell you:

- Mr. Rossell's class isn't your favorite class just because he's such a young, hip, cute teacher. You actually REALLY like Logic class, and the proofs that you're learning now will form the basis for the entire computer science degree that I have recently received (that, and the patience and encouragement from Mrs. OC for you to participate in a lot of engineering based after school activities when you get to high school!).

- You ask about all of those GCT tutors - while I don't know where they all are, I do remember and appreciate all the lessons they taught me! Some of those lessons were more painful than others - one thing, little Em, that you'll learn as you grow up, is that the grownups you love and admire are sinners too, and that sometimes, they can make mistakes. I won't explain more about that for now, but remember to give people the grace that's been extended to you.

- You WILL get a cell phone someday. Just be patient. :) And as for the iPod, eventually you'll learn that Apple is not your favorite tech. company - you only want an iPod now because everyone else has one. There are other MP3 players out there - in fact, the cellphones of today can play music JUST LIKE AN iPOD. I know, it's crazy. They're called "smart phones", and in our job at APL (by the way, we work at APL like Daddy, but not with Dad - APL is a lot bigger than we thought as kids!) anyways, in our job, we're writing a computer program to run on a smart phone as a side project. I know, it seems weird, but trust me, it's fun.

- You wanted to be prettier - here's a few hints. First, exercise! Being chubby turns into being outright fat, and makes you really miserable about your body for a long time! In fact, it's only now that I'm starting to go running and make up for those mistakes. Second, when you get to college, eat less tater tots - they're not as good as you think and they make you get zits. Finally, the things that make my fiancee (that's right, little Em, we're getting married!) - anyways, the things that make him think I'm pretty are things you already have. That crooked sunshine smile that got you named "Co-Yala", or "She who smiles/laughs a lot" at the visit to Historic Jamestown with Bestemor. That long brown hair that you hate that Daddy doesn't let you cut - turns out, Daddy's right, and lots of men like long brown hair - and finally, those almond shaped, dark Asian eyes that sometimes get you picked on by silly people who can't appreciate the beauty of ethnicity - those are all the things that matter.

- At the end of your letter, little Em, you give me a list of books that you like to read - the Harry Potter books, the Narnia series, the Anne of Green Gables books, and the little house on the Prairie books. Little Em, I read that list and I just think how happy Dad would be to see that you wrote that list, given how many of those books started as books he read out loud to you. One of the primary things I've tried to do as little sisters have come along (Oh yes, that's right, little Em, I almost forgot - after "baby" Nathaniel, mom and Dad have THREE MORE little sisters in store for you. It gets crazy, but you can't imagine life without them) - anyway, one of the things I've tried to do is share some of those books with them. So I've been re-reading them like you asked, don't worry.

Well, little Em, I've come to the end of your letter. It was SO much fun to read, and remember, and to see how far ten years has taken us. You have so much growing up to do, and I promise, it will be fun, but also hard work.

Older Emily (if you come back and read this at age 33), I'm sure you'll read this and have even more lessons for both me and for little Em. I'm both excited and scared for what the years ahead hold for me, for my immediate family, and my family (by that I mean my future family with my soon to be husband) - but you'll look back and already know, just like I look back and already know about college and high school. So that will be a fun adventure. See you in ten years!

- Emily (age 23)