Dear 10-year-old Jen,
It has been 14 years since I have seen you last. I miss you.
I know I viewed you as not anything special. You were below average in height and weight. A twiggy, blade of grass. A meek back of the row dancer. A geeky perfectionist student. An above-average swimmer. An inclusive friend. A timid shy sailor. A defensive soccer player. A dull pianist. A mourning granddaughter. A noob journaler.
Despite all this, I miss your frivolousness. It felt so freeing. That routine of eating lunch with Pilar and Luiza at the same table each day. Playing kitchen at recess and using leaves as money to buy dirt. Putting on different personas of being weird on Wacky Wednesdays and Freaky Fridays. Our playdates with hot chocolate, Wizard of Oz, and playing dress-up. Oh, how I treasured that time.
I miss the way that you would gradually let your guard down with friends to let them get to know the real Jen. I miss how competitive you would get during gym class. You transformed into a different type of person when it came to laser tag. You were unstoppable and didn’t let rules get in your way from winning. I admire how you were someone who had a clear goal of winning and grew bravery because of it.
I miss your teachers. Mrs. Stephanek and that book report she had me do. Amelia Earhart’s story still sticks with me today.
In fourth grade, Mrs. Thomas was kind of scary at first until I realized she was harmless and not actually like Mrs. Granger from Frindle. That book passed down to me my curiosity about the etymology of words. She gave such a memorable writing prompt to personify living life as my big toe. This essay always got a giggle and a smile on my Omi’s face. I miss the classroom set up with 4-person tables. That was so fun. We got to play games and win candy canes around Christmas time. Mrs. Thomas told me this was when I started to come out of my shell.
Much has changed since. I had shepherds to rely on in every realm of my life. There were coaches, teachers, big buddies, and the big kids. Now I feel like I am the shepherd and the sheep while charting uncertain terrain. The change never stops.
If I were to go back to tell you something today, I would say to be more intentional in building purpose and defining the drivers. Even if it feels like you are being forced to do something, make the most out of it. You might not have another experience to re-do it. Live life with both your eyes open even when you don’t want to. The bus ride of life doesn’t stop, so even if you are on a detour make the most of it.
Never EVER stop learning.
A wiser Jen