Yesterday, as I looked forward to my day, I caught a glimpse of myself in the mirror. It was just after waking up and I hadn’t covered my red blotchy skin or erased the weird spidery veins under my right eye. I looked like I used to when I was little. Like a kid. It was something about the expectation, I think, and the imperfect, fresh features.
And I had this crazy impulse to talk to her, the “me” I used to be. I wondered what I’d tell her.
If I told that little girl, the one with the imagination and seeking eyes, and the long, knotted hair the things I was doing with my life today, I don’t think she’d be surprised.
I think she’d open her big blue eyes in complete sincerity and say, “Of course you are.” And then she’d pull me aside and we’d sit across from each other Indian-style with a bowl of popcorn, and she’d ask me to tell her more. She’d want to know about every adventure.
And I’d start with the big stuff.
The opportunities- the studying abroad and performing- that took me on a plane out of the country, and in and around it. The crowds I faced in baseball stadiums as I honored the heroes of our country with our National Anthem. The stories that crept under my skin and stay with me still. The hilariously embarrassing moments as I met people who inspired me. The dreams fulfilled as I stepped into the shoes of characters I’d always longed to become.
And then I’d tell her about the people.
The people that are encouraging and inspiring and daring and fearless. The ones who joined me on the journey. Some have remained since their entrance into my story; others stayed only for their season, but are a part of me still. I would tell her about the ones to watch for, the ones she absolutely must weave into her life the moment she lays eyes on them.
I’d try to tell her which boys to leave alone, and would understand if she didn’t listen. But I wouldn’t tell her about the amazing people that would leave her. If she knew, she wouldn’t let them change her and grow her. She would shut them out to protect her too-big heart. I would simply tell her,
“Everyone has their own magic, but some people can’t see it. It doesn’t mean it’s not there; just that your magic may be too big for them.”
I would tell her that when her first love tells her she’s “too much,” that he was absolutely right. She is too much for his too little.
I would tell her to cling to those with scope for life. The ones who see the world in bright colors, and dare to be a part of it. The ones who aren’t afraid to listen to someone else’s opinion. The ones who are chasing their dreams with grace and fury. The ones who forgive. The ones who seek peace.
And although she’d crinkle her nose and make a face, I’d tell her not to care about her body. But if she absolutely has to care, I’d tell her to treasure it. To find the magic in the way it carries her, in the way it changes color in the summertime. To love it and thank it every day it allows her to start a new day.
Then, I would grab her hand and make sure I had her rapt attention before I whispering,
“You deserve for people to want to know you. Take up your space. Make mistakes. Walk in grace.”
I’d start to untangle my legs from their pretzeled position, and she’d stop me.
“I’m proud of you,” she’d say. “You’re not perfect, but I think you’re just the someone I might want to be. You smile and wear funny things. It seems like you’re finding your place. And you don’t seem to care about what everybody else thinks.”
“I’m trying,” I smile.
“Keep trying,” she says.
“And don’t try too hard,” I tell her. “You’re going to walk on the wings of adventure and fly on the sails of hope.”
And then she’d giggle and make fun of me for saying things like that, but somewhere inside, she would know those words rang completely true.
“It’s going to be okay, isn’t it?” She would ask as she slipped her hand into mine.
“No,” I’d shake my head.