Dear Me (at age 18) // Love, You (at age 29)


When I was 18, I wrote myself a letter. It was an assignment for my Senior English class. We were to write to our future selves. We could say anything we wanted to. Our teacher promised to mail it to us 5 years later. Having forgotten all about it, 23 year old me laughed when I opened it and discovered that 18 year old me had thought it was a good idea to fill it with confetti. It was 5 or 6 pages long – and very colorful (that hasn’t really changed). I wish I had the letter still to show you, or at least quote, but I think with all the moving I’ve done, and the continual process of purging unnecessary THINGS, it has found its way into some landfill by now. But I can tell you that 18 year old me said,

Well, I’ll have graduated from college. I’ll probably be a teacher, or going to graduate school for Special Education. And I’ll probably be married, or at LEAST engaged. And maybe I’ll be thinking about kids. I’d like to have my first when I’m 24 or 25.

18 year old me was confident that those things – my education, my job, being a wife, and a mother – would be my identity by the age of 23.

This week, I turned 29. It’s the last year of my 20s, the 30th year of my life.
And it is not what I expected when I was 18.

I have a BA and an MA, but neither are the ones I planned at 18. And I don’t hang either of them on the wall and they’re really not very important. They do nothing to define me.

I am a teacher. It’s a part of my nature/character. And sometimes, it’s a part of my job. But it’s not my identity.

I’m not a wife, I’m not even a girlfriend, but I still hope to someday be one. But when that happens, that relationship will not provide me with my identity, and NOT having that relationship or role does not detract anything from my identity or worth.

I’m not a mom. I’ve been a bossy big sister who thinks she’s a mom/a babysitter/a childcare worker/a teacher/a nanny/an “aunt,” but I’m still far removed from being a mother.  I pray that someday, I’ll have that privilege… but when I do, it won’t be my identity. And while I don’t have that role to live in, my identity is secure without it.

Clearly, I was wrong about a lot of things. But I was most wrong to think that my identity could EVER truly be found in any of those things.

If 29 year old me could write a letter to 18 year old me, it would say this:

Dear Me (at age 18),

When I think about you, me at 18, I can’t help but laugh. You’re pretty ridiculous. {So am I, honestly. But it’s a different ridiculous.} 

This may be a bit of a shocker but my favorite color is green (not pink), I haven’t had my nails french manicured in YEARS, I drink my coffee BLACK, I think Frappuccinos are gross, I like onions, and I run several miles a week – entirely by choice. I’m not like you anymore. And those are just the little things. BIG THINGS are going to change for you, in you, and around you over the next 11 years. I won’t tell you about those specifically. You can’t handle it yet. A lot of it is going to be hard. Really hard. And a lot of it is going to be amazing. Really really amazing – kinds of amazing that you can’t yet imagine. And even the hard stuff, somehow God is going to fit it together to make something beautiful. Trust Him!

And about that: This is a lesson you should learn as soon as possible.

You belong to Christ. You are IN Him. He is IN you. (That’s all going to mean a lot more to you THIS year (28/29) than it ever has before! Be excited about that!) And that, little girl, is where your identity lies. Not in a job. Not in a relationship or a role that you fill. Not in your education. Not in your size. Not in how much people like you. Those aren’t bad things, but they are not what define you, what root you, or what make life worth living.

Your identity is IN Jesus. Read that sentence again. And again. And again. When everything else is stripped from you, you are IN Jesus. And that is gloriously beautiful. And that makes you gloriously beautiful – no matter how you may feel sometimes. Jesus is EVERYTHING; let Him be YOUR everything. His life is IN you. It is. And it’s true what Paul said. All that other stuff that you’ve currently got your eye on, it’s RUBBISH. Don’t let its shininess distract you from what is ACTUALLY beautiful and TRUE!

There’s a lot I sometimes wish I’d (you’d) figured out sooner, but if I told you now you just wouldn’t get it. You’re not ready. So just live and go through it all, and know it’s going to be great because you are/I am IN Jesus and He’s doing something…Something you really don’t understand yet, and I don’t really understand yet either, but I’m seeing more all the time how beautiful it is!

Love,
You (at age 29)

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9 thoughts on “Dear Me (at age 18) // Love, You (at age 29)

  1. THIS is GREAT SHANDA!!! I didn’t know you at 18 but the 20’s you is FANTASTIC!!! This is ringing to my late twenties self as well!! “You belong to Christ. You are IN Him. He is IN you” that sentence ALONE is GOLD to REMEMBER!! Thank you so much for this!!

  2. I loved this! You really nailed it. The world tells us to find our identity in so many empty things- clubs, family, career, physical apperance. It’s natural for us to search and search until we find that place where we belong… praise the Lord he revealed himself to us at a young age.
    You should write a letter to yourself at 50! I wonder what the 50 year old version of you would say to you now? Mine would probably say “Thanks a lot for all these wrinkles. You just HAD to sunbath as a teenager, didn’t you?”

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  4. this post was great! and just what i needed to read :) it’s always a good reminder that my identity is found completely in Christ alone. so thank you so much for sharing this!

  5. This made me cry. Mostly because I remeber that 18 year old girl. The one who sent her new roommate a letter also filled with confetti and written in atlernating lines of pink and purple. I of course was also a riduclous 18 year old at the time, but I love watching you live life to the fullest and take every oppertunity with all you are. I love you and love you what you have become! (I also loved the riduculous 18 year old too!)

    • Hahaha. I forgot all about sending you a letter with confetti. That’s soooo special! Thanks for choosing to room with me anyway! :) Man, we had adventures! I love you!

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