The Things You'll Carry | Teen Ink

The Things You'll Carry

October 11, 2018
By Kendalsc16 BRONZE, Temperance, Michigan
Kendalsc16 BRONZE, Temperance, Michigan
2 articles 0 photos 0 comments

Dear Younger Me,

I know you probably won’t understand the advice I’m about to give you, but that’s okay. As situations arise, I hope that you will be able to apply the guidance that I’m giving to you so that you might get the best possible outcome. I might not have a lifetime of experience just yet, but I know a whole lot more now than you do at the moment. I just want to give you some help for your journey, because I know that it will be long and often times difficult. You might feel alone at times, but remember that your own greatest companion is yourself, and that you alone know yourself best. If you’re ever stuck, don’t be afraid to ask for help. You’ll always have someone you know you can trust.

On a September afternoon, your swing will soar through the fading sunlight while you enjoy your freedom after elementary school. You’ll pump your little legs, enjoying the rush of wind through your short, curly brown locks. The warm autumn sun will filter through the tree canopy above your head, making your hair glow like spun gold. Your best friend will be swinging right alongside of you. You will both giggle with glee and close your eyes, seeing the red of the sunlight from behind your eyelids. You will laugh out loud as you reach as high as the swing will allow. You won’t have any worries yet, you’ll just be relieved to be outside and have no homework that night. You’ll imagine that you’re a bird, flying high above the Amazon, or maybe that you’re on a boat in the middle of a very dangerous storm. Your stomach will drop as the swing whips you back and your imagination takes you someplace magical. Suddenly, you will feel a quick sharp throb in your thigh, interrupting your joyfulness. You’ll let out another shriek, but this time in pain, as you look down at the red welt forming. A bee flew up your shorts and stung you. At the time, you’ll sob and run inside, thinking your world is ending. You will think that this is the worst pain you could ever experience. However, years in the future, you’ll remember that memory and laugh at yourself. You will know by then that the pain you experienced that day certainly wasn’t the worst, and that it doesn’t always have to be physical.

There will be a summer, maybe around the age of 12 or 13, where you’ll feel hopeless. You’ll lie on your rumpled bed for a whole day, staring up at your white plaster ceiling as tears fill your eyes. Your ceiling fan will spin lazy circles above your head, whisking around a small breeze in the otherwise stifling heat. Your phone will sit abandoned on your bed table, a silent brick. Salty tears of despair will drip out of your eyes and soak into your flat pillow. You’ll feel alone. You’ll feel as if your friends are all gone. Those girls that you had been friends with since elementary have drifted away. It takes time to understand at first, but we all grow up eventually.

On a frosty December day, when you’re 15, you’ll sit on an ice cold bleacher on the Tennessee pool deck. Bile will rise in your throat, along with the feeling of overwhelming disappointment. That race was supposed to be it. You were ready to go out there and crush it, but you didn’t. Your pale fingers will clamp down around the edge of the bleachers as the crowd roars above you. Your tearfilled eyes will glance up at the scoreboard. New pool record. You’ll clench your eyes shut tightly. That should’ve been you. Tears will mix with the water running rivulets down your face. Your cheeks will burn with embarrassment and you’ll quickly wipe your tears away. What went wrong? Will I never be good enough? The thoughts will tear through your mind as your suit bites into your shoulders, leaving you feeling suffocated. A shaky sigh will escape you as you watch the swimmers in the pool. It’s fine. I’m fine. You will try to piece your mind back together for your next race. You can do it this time. You’ll force a smile at a passing teammate as you rise to get ready, unsure of when your next success will arrive.

These events might be significant to you at the moment, but they will quickly blend with your other memories over time. All the situations that you will find yourself in will make you who you are to become, no matter whether the situation changed you at the time. It will all add as the years go past. You will still be Kendal, but you’ll be a little bit wiser and a little bit more understanding. I hope that you overcome your challenges with grace and perseverance, which is something that I still need to work on today. Don’t worry about everything all the time because it will drain you. I want you to not worry about others’ opinions of you and don’t ever let someone tell you what you can or cannot be. Your limitations will simply be the extent of your imagination. Build your confidence as the years go by. Do not stand by idly as the world turns around you. Grab onto your dreams and hold on. I’m just a checkpoint for what you will become in the future, past even what I have seen so far. I know you will think that the “real world” is still a long ways away, but it’s not. You’re living in it now, just as I am. Take it in stride, and learn with humility, for we still have a long way to go.

Much Love,

Future You

The author's comments:

I wrote this peice as a letter to my younger self. I was inspired to wite it as a way to vent how I've been feeling and reflect back on my life so far. The letter is inspiring to me for my future and is like a wake up call, even though I wrote it to my past self. It's a way for me to tell myself to just keep going.

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This article has 5 comments.

Tschred said...
on Nov. 7 2018 at 7:24 pm
Tschred, Toledo, Ohio
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Some very deep insights Kendal! Sharing such depth is an emotionally risky thing to do.

GeneBuds said...
on Nov. 7 2018 at 7:07 pm
GeneBuds, Toledo, Ohio
0 articles 0 photos 1 comment
What a mature piece. I'm so proud of you that I could bust.

on Oct. 28 2018 at 9:35 pm
Graceru12 BRONZE, Monroe, Michigan
4 articles 0 photos 1 comment
This is an amazing piece! So inspiring and wonderfully written

Kschreder said...
on Oct. 28 2018 at 8:01 am
Kschreder, Temperance, Michigan
0 articles 0 photos 1 comment
I am so proud of you for who you are. And one thing you are is a fantastic writer.

MrsHeartz said...
on Oct. 27 2018 at 11:45 pm
MrsHeartz, Sylvania, Ohio
0 articles 0 photos 5 comments
This is a beautiful & inspiring piece!