Dear 16 Year Old Amanda,
Girl, this is the beginning of a very crazy year for you. You're going to meet people, you're going to go places, and you're going to figure out a little more about yourself because of this year. There is a part of me that would love to actually talk to you (and shake a little sense in you), but, I wouldn't go back to those high school days for anything. But, if I could, I would tell you the following things:
Love. Your. Car. That 1984 chocolate brown diesel Volvo is one fine machine. Yes, it smokes excessively (and your mom will get pulled over on Western Blvd. because of this smoking issue) and is very slow and deliberate on take off--but you will be safe and sound in that car. And you will miss getting about 50 mpg. It will drive you through high school, to college, and to your first day of work post graduation. It will be what drives you and Joey to school that year--and he'll complain every day about how slow it is (and how overly cautious you are as a driver). But, let's face it, it was faster than walking and cooler than having your parents drive you to and from school every day.
This year you're going to have your heart broken. It's going to be the first time you really cared about someone and he's going to shatter your world. You're also going to beat yourself up over letting someone get that close to you--and for letting someone have control over your heart. And you're going to keep letting him walk all over your heart. Just keep your chin up. In a few years he's going to get his heart broken, too--and he'll find you at ECU and apologize for what he put you through during high school.
Besides, your future husband is already in college. Your parents would have never let you date him while you were in high school. Big John and Bobbie were the strictest parents on the block. It's really ok. You'll be thankful later. You and your sister are lucky girls--even if their rules don't always make sense. They aren't stupid.
This year you're going to go on the strangest school trip ever with Jamie and a bunch of kids from other high schools. You will tour Philadelphia, watch historic demonstrations, learn the Macarena, and celebrate your birthday with a bunch of strangers. It's going to be weird, but you're going to meet some new people, including one who will become one of your life long friends. It will be complicated. . .so very complicated. But treasure those hilarious moments--and don't pay so much attention to the guy sitting next to you on the van.
Trig will never, ever, ever make sense to you. You're going to get a big, fat D- in that class. You will work your behind off and get mad at Kelly for sleeping through the class and getting an A. But, save some of the art work that Kelly makes for you in Biology. You will laugh hysterically years later when you find some of her little drawings about your classmates. She's a funny, funny girl.
Don't get so mad at Brandon all the time. One day life won't be so easy and you won't have time to talk to him every day. Stop giving him the silent treatment. I know it's keeping you from saying things you don't mean in anger, but give the guy a break. He's a good and true friend. He's going to go through hell and you're going to need to be there for him. I'm glad you love him fiercely like the brother you never had.
And be nice to Jennifer. Don't be a bully. It's not nice.
You're going to bomb an audition this year. It's ok. Don't let it get you down. And in a few months you're going to get a letter saying you've been accepted into the Governor's School program. You'll be sad that your BFF, Jamie, isn't going to be at your same site. But, it will be ok. You'll both meet some interesting people who will change your lives for the better. That summer is going to be ridiculously fun. You'll laugh, you'll cry, and you'll love life (after the first week when you cry every single day from homesickness). You'll cry yourself silly the last night--knowing that it's going to all be over in the morning.
Listen to what Dawna tells you at church. Listen, really lean in and listen, to her wisdom and life experiences. She's going to move later this year and you're really going to miss her during your senior year of high school. It's going to be tough to not have anyone to talk to at church next year, so soak her up while she's around. And pay attention to all the things that Diane is doing during her choir rehearsals. You'll find yourself telling your choir kids the same things in a few years.
Don't worry about how crazy you feel sometimes. Recognize that those deep emotions you feel are your artist's heart. It's ok to cry. It's ok to swoon. It's ok to let your guard down. It's ok that you love, love, love to listen to depressing and complicated music. Some of those songs are going to speak to your very soul. It's ok that you don't feel like everyone else. It's just who you are. Embrace the weirdness.
Stop squinting and wear your glasses more often. I'm tired of these wrinkles on my face.
Run hard after Jesus. Run after Him instead of the approval of others. That voice that talks to you--it's Right. Don't squelch it.
It's going to be ok, but you are going to lose some of your innocence this year as your eyes open a little more to the reality of the world. You will hear and see things that will hurt your feelings. You will learn that people can be very cruel. You will discover how hard it will be to stand up for your morals and beliefs. It's ok--those people that really care about you will help protect you.
Hang in there. I promise that it's all going to be ok.
PS--That last minute decision to add a little lipstick before your school picture was a good call. You'll actually like your school picture this year. And your future husband will carry a copy of it in his wallet. Swoon.