So, I am going to write a letter to my younger self and post it on the internet for anyone to read. Since, you know, my younger self can't read it nor would she fully grasp what I am trying to say. My younger self is much like my current self in a lot of ways, but MUCH more stubborn, head strong, and i-n-d-e-p-e-n-d-e-n-t. So here goes nothing.
Dear Younger Kelsey,
I remember a time when the future looked so fun. Pretending to be whatever type of career woman I felt like that week--veterinarian, teacher, or scientist. Knowing that "someday...when I'm bigger...." the possibilities were endless. Thinking that I was really going to marry one of the Backstreet Boys and that the Disney Channel was forever going to host my favorite shows. Hold on to that. While there is so much "unknown" regarding the future, that unknown is filled with hope and excitement.
As you grow older, though, the unknown still holds a little bit of excitement (I know your love for adventure and "planned spontaneity" (you probably don't know what that word means, but you'll act like you do), but it can also be very scary. Things will (and do) happen that will make you have to shift, redirect, and significantly alter your own life plans. Please know that it is okay to feel scared. It's okay to let down your guard and let others in during these times. It's okay to trust that those in your life are looking out for the best for you (more on that later...). But above all, lean on the God who loves you when all of that feels like it has been taken away.
Allow others into your life. Pray for friends and family that will support and encourage you, but always be looking for opportunities to support and encourage them as well. Don't let yourself get too caught up in being busy and "important," but make loving and serving others some of the most important "jobs" in your life. At the same time, it is okay for others not to like you. Not everyone will. It. Is. Okay. If others don't like you, though, make sure your conscience is clear. Remember when dad told you "it's okay if people don't like you, as long as you didn't say or do something to give them reason not to." You're not always going to get it right. You will hurt others. But learn how to apologize. Don't apologize for other people's "perceptions" or "misunderstanding of your intentions." Own up to the fact that you can and will say and do hurtful things to others. Regardless of intention.
It will be a forever struggle to not find your identity in a guy. From the first time a boy shows interest in you, to the day you say "I do," it is hard to not look to a guy to find affirmation and purpose. No one on this earth is capable of being 100% what you need 100% of the time. At the same time, it is much more fulfilling to pray for opportunities and the capacity to love and serve your husband instead of complaining about what he may or may not do that doesn't love and serve you. (I don't think you will ever 100% perfect this, but thank goodness for forgiveness from God and from my spouse).
Lastly, people will say and do things that will hurt you. I know you, your first response is typically to find the sharpest dagger and hit them with it. (Not literally....but, you know, find the thing that you know would hurt them the most and say it.) DON'T DO IT. Also, while cutting people out of your life may seem like the most "logical" situation in the midst of your hurt and frustration, it is typically the most damaging. It damages how you view friendships. It reduces your ability to love and forgive. It makes it harder to reach out and say "I'm sorry." It's okay to communicate, even if it is minimally. I know you like to think through things and come up with a conclusion, but let people know that is what you are doing. Don't assume people just know what is going on.
Please also know that in a life full of unknown and struggles, there is also so much joy and peace to be found. There are times of non-stop laughter and goofiness. There are days when all you will want to watch is a Disney movie. You will still love fruit snacks and Skittles. Snow days are still the best kind of day off. And you will never stop learning and growing. I may have more of myself figured out now, but I can assure you as time passes, the idea of "younger" becomes a little bit older, and I will always have new things to learn. Throughout it all, be exactly who you are because regardless of what you think the mirror says, you are beautiful.