Dear My Younger Self

Thank you all so much for the love you shared on Tuesday’s post: Being Who We Were Before the World Told Us Who We Should Be.

Today I’m doing a follow up post of sorts, speaking to my younger self. Because I have so much to say to her. And speaking to her gives my CURRENT self so much perspective. I’m so curious about what my future self would say to my current self?

Paige Schmidt | Throwback Photo | Little

At first, I wrote this just for myself. I was curious what I would say to myself from a wee-little-age all the way to now… It turns out I’d say a lot, and I decided to share this letter with all of you just in case you would resonate and reading it could benefit you in some way – whether it simply inspires you to write a letter to YOURSELF, or you resonate with some part of my story and find peace that way, I hope you get something out of me sharing my heart with you.

Since I wrote this letter at first only to myself, this letter is STRAIGHT from my heart.

So here we go…

Paige Schmidt | Throwback Photo | Little

Dear littlest Paige,

You’re so young and full of so much spunk. You’re figuring the world out and how you fit in. You know the things that bring you joy and you focus on those things. You’re fearless in getting your way (dad likes to remind you of this) – you know that there’s a way to make anything that makes sense to you happen. I love this about you – never lose that fire.

Paige Schmidt | Throwback Photo | Little and Mom

Your mom is your best buddy and you love climbing into her bed at night while dads out at the fire station. Cherish those nights, because when you’re older you’ll be looking back appreciating every cuddle you and your mama ever had. Your mom loves you wildly. Never forget that.

Paige Schmidt | Throwback Photo | Little

There are so many things about you that make you so… you. These things give you personality. They’re fun! And though they may be different from other little girls, they’re wonderful. These things make up the tiny little human that you are and they’re going to shape you forever.

Paige Schmidt | Throwback Photo | Little

Enjoy being little. I know you’re always thinking about “how cool” it will be to grow up (and really, it is!) but this is a fun part of life where you can do whatever you want like no one is watching and no one will judge you for it. Keep laughing, being silly, dressing up, and mostly, just be yourself.

Paige Schmidt | Throwback Photo | Family

When you get a little older, you’ll start noticing things about yourself and other people that make you different. Remember, it’s great and okay to be different from others. Don’t worry so much about fitting in. Be you! I can’t emphasize this enough.

Paige Schmidt | Throwback Photo | Little

There are so many things that you love right now that you’re going to love forever – who knew? Here are the things you love right now that are going to shape who you are in the future. These are the things that are creating your personality, right now…! It’s so cool to see!

  • Setting up your barbies houses even though you don’t care much for the actual playing barbies part. You’re going to continue to love setting up house forever. It’s such a fun thing for you. You’re a visual kid, that’s for sure!
  • Acting like a mama to all of your babies – you’re going to love little kids forever (there’s a reason they’re so special to you right now!). You’ll even dream of opening a big daycare one day full of fun and color. If you want that dream, it’s yours to grab!
  • Playing school, being the teacher, and turning the whole garage into an elementary school classroom – when you’re a big kid, you’ll still love that office-feel that you love right now. You’ll still love organizing, writing on a whiteboard and teaching others. In fact, it’s going to become a huge part of your career!
  • Right now, you’re in this funny “I want to be responsible even though I’m a little kid” stage. You ask your mama for chores and wonder why you don’t have any. Everyone around you has chores. This feels super weird to you, but appreciate it. I think this is where you find the initiative to always clean up on your own 😉

There are other parts about you that are kind of tough. You really don’t like it when kids say mean things. And trust me, this doesn’t go away. Your parents are so good at reminding you that it’s not about you when kids make fun of you – believe them. This part of life doesn’t go away – sometimes people are just MEAN.

When you grow up, you’re going to learn that hurt people, hurt people – this is true.

When you enter middle school, it’s going to be a little awkward, and that’s okay. The truth is, this is the awkward part of life for everyone! You’ll be figuring out where you “fit in” pretty much the entire time. Stay close to your most loyal friends and love them like sisters. Good friends are everything, and a little fighting here and there is normal. It doesn’t make or break a relationship.

Also, keep standing up for people. It’s the VERY COOLEST today when I see my friends stand up for other people. It’s a real character trait that you’ll appreciate one day (even if it feels a little less-than-cool and quite vulnerable in middle school – who cares. Being cool is not important. Being nice is!).

Middle school will come and go, high school is where a lot is going to change for you. You’re going to “fall in love” for the first time. You’re going to think your whole life revolves around this person. That’s okay! You need to experience this. I wish I could protect you from that heartbreak. Let me tell you, it isn’t going to feel good. But I’ll also tell you that you’re going to gain SO much from it, and one day it’s not going to hurt at all. You also gain a best friend from this relationship and she’s going to be by your side for life – through all of your biggest ups and downs. This friend is a true gift.

Here’s something I really wish you knew through your high school years:

Life doesn’t feel good all of the time and this is actually quite normal. I wish you knew how normal it was for things to hurt sometimes, and I wish that you never felt alone in this pain. Eventually, you will learn this and it’s going to change things for you. It’ll change how you deal.

You’re going to meet a boy when you’re a sophomore. His name is Marco and you won’t believe this… but I’m dead serious: one day he’s going to be your husband. When you first meet, you’ll have no friggin’ clue. You’re going to be best friends for a while, and one day you’re going to wake up (literally) and realize you that you just might have feelings for him. You’ll talk to your friends about it, you’ll stay confused for a while, and you won’t say a thing to him for about six-months. Then you’ll finally see him after not seeing each other at all for a while (you guys take a lot of these weird friend breaks in high school – more on that in a second) and literally, the moment you see him again you’ll know for sure. From that point on, your feelings will continue to grow for this boy. He’s a friggin’ rock. I’m telling you, be nice to this kid! 

About those weird friend breaks: sometimes you and Marco go through periods of not talking. This is usually when you’re dating other people because jealousy pops up all around. I kind of want to tell you to not take these times to heart so much, but honestly… taking these times to heart is part of what made you realize you love Marco so much in the first place. Eventually you’re going to realize that you don’t want to live life without this guy by your side. You realize just how good he is. How much he cares about you, how much he looks out for you, and how he ALWAYS sees your best potential, even when you don’t see it yourself. He’s freaking awesome – I’ll just tell you that. And seriously, he just gets better with age (in every way).

There’s going to be this trip that you go on when you’re about 14… on that trip you’re going to take a lot of photos in a bikini. You’re going to have SO much fun on this trip. But when you get home you’re going to look at those photos and you’re going to decide at this time that you want to make a change. You’re going to diet.

Now, again… I so badly want to protect you and tell you not to go on this diet… but again, doing so (though it will be such a hard/all-consuming path for a while) is going to teach you so much. And one day you’re going to use this challenge to encourage other women. When you grow up you’re going to learn this paradigm shift that says: your challenges are your greatest gifts (this is from a coaching school that you’ll attend one day – it’s good stuff!). This paradigm shift is everything. It’s so true – every challenge that you experience, you’ll have the choice to use it as a gift later on in life. Remember this.

Instead of trying tell you that I wish you didn’t have to go through anything hard, I’ll give you some encouragement to remember through it all…

You’re going to go through some really tough times. You’ll spend a while trying to find your identity in all of the least fulfilling areas and all of those areas are going to disappoint you. You’ll think there’s something wrong with you, but let me tell you – going through all of this doesn’t mean anything bad about you at all. In fact, whether you realize it or not most of your girlfriends are probably going through something very similar. You’re all just hungry for fullness. This is pretty normal for a high school girl.

But here’s the awesome part: ONE DAY, you’re going to find hope and you’re going to create this amazing relationship/friendship with God. For the first time ever, you’re going to feel fully loved, appreciated, cherished, and you’re going to realize that there’s a purpose in all of this. Remember this. Along with finding God, you’re going to find that childlike part of yourself again and it’s going to be awesome. It won’t be perfect (nothing ever is, let me tell ya!), but it’s going to be really really awesome. You’re going to feel the MOST yourself you’ve ever felt.

You’ll go through some more relationships, some serious, some not. You’ll start college, you’ll change your major a few times (this is a confusing time of life and again, that’s just a part of the process), and you’ll continue to see life unfold in ways that you never imaged.

You’ll even start this thing called a blog, which right now you’ve never heard of. This little blog is going to connect you to so many important women who are going to be a huge part of your life. It’s also going to help you find your career, which you’ve also never heard of. You’re going to be a “Health Coach.” Yep, this is a thing when you grow up! It’s pretty cool too. You’ll get to have you own office (you’re going to love this part!), you’re in charge of your own hours, you manage your own clients (and they’re wonderful!), and you’re even going to have a VIRTUAL coaching program that you create with your business partner (I know, so many things you never imagined!) Simi. This career is going to fulfill you. It’s going to heal you. It’s going to challenge you and bring you SO much joy all at the same time. You’re going to work really hard at it, and it’s going to feel crazy purposeful. There are going to be many challenges, and just like we talked about earlier, all of these challenges are going to be gifts that you get to use later. Here’s what I’ll tell you about that job of yours: celebrate the good stuff, have fun, and stay true to what you believe. Believe in your clients and their highest good, even when they don’t. You’re going to go so far here.

Shortly after you start your coaching career you’ll start dating that best friend of yours, Marco. You guys will date for about six-months and then get engaged. It’s going to be a wild ride. There’s going to come a point where you’re filled with fear. I wish I could tell you to simply relax during this time. But getting married is a huge commitment and up until this point you haven’t had to make many commitments of this size. You guys are going to go through pre-marital counseling and you’re going to learn SO FREAKING much about each other. It’s awesome – you’re going to be a pre-marital counseling advocate for life, lemme tell ya. 

You and Marco are going to build this awesome relationship that only gets stronger and better with time. It’s incredible, really. You guys are going to work for each other like you’ve never done before. You’re going to learn to think about the other person first. You’ll learn to understand each other more and judge each other less. And most of all, you’re going to learn to fearlessly support one another. That’s the best part.

You don’t know this now, but Marco is going to be with you through some of the hardest times in your life. And during those times you’re going to realize in an even deeper way just how perfect he is for you. God truly gave him to you.

Which brings me to this next part…

The hardest thing that I’m going to tell you is this… and I don’t even know how to say it. I hope you’re sitting down and I hope you’re with someone you love and I hope you know how fully loved you are. You are. (It hurts me to tell you this.)

Before I tell you, let me say this… Your life has a purpose. Hard things are going to happen, but know this: hard things happen to everyone – these hard parts of life are not exclusive to you. All you can do is appreciate the good stuff. Soak it in everyday, because it’s true that you never know what life will hand you.

And honestly, that’s a good thing. If you knew your whole future now, if this letter were totally real and I were sharing your future with you before it happened it would be overwhelming. Too much to handle. Even the good. If you knew all of the good that was coming you’d be riddled with the anxiety of anticipation of “what’s next” and you wouldn’t be able to be present. So whether it’s good or whether it’s hard it’s so much better that you don’t know yet.

That said, 2016 is going to be the hardest. Your sweet mom (your best friend) is going to be diagnosed with cancer. That year is going to be both the hardest and the sweetest year of your life. Your mama Dot is going to make it a year to the day, and then she’ll move on to heaven.

When they find the tumor, you won’t know what to do with yourself. The anticipation of whether or not it’s cancer will make you sick. But all you can do is take it one moment at a time and stay by your moms side. Be there for her, she needs you. And while you’re there for her, help her to feel normal. She’s still your mom and she wants to feel that way.

The night you find out it’s cancer it’s going to feel like life takes the biggest left turn (there’s no other way to describe this feeling – it’s like someone has just jumped down from the land of absolute doom and stuck a huge pitchfork in your life). What the heck do you do with that? It’ll feel like everything is going to be changed forever. It will be, but it also won’t be bad forever. I know that’s your fear, that life will never be good again, and I just want you to know life will be different, but it will still be okay.

Throughout the year your mom is sick you’re going to be challenged in ways you could never imagine. At times, life will feel impossible but I promise you, if you take things one day at a time you will get through it. Continue to lean on God, Marco, and your family and friends. Continue to take care of yourself.

The anticipation of losing your mom when you find out her cancer is terminal and there is no cure will be the hardest part of it all. It will be truly, gut wrenchingly hard. You will absolutely believe that the pain of losing your mom will be impossible to get through. You’ll wonder how you could ever do it. But again, I promise you, taking things one day at a time and not thinking too far ahead is going to get you through it.

It’s not going to be easy. But you won’t be alone: the support you will have from your friends and family, and especially Marco… will blow you away. You’ll learn how wonderful people are. How loving, helpful, and supportive they are.

At the same time, you’ll learn how imperfect people are. Not everyone is going to show up in the way you’d expect them too. Some people are going to say what feels like the wrong things. Others will try to encourage you in ways that resonate with you 0%. You’ll wonder why they’re saying what they’re saying… But just go with it and trust that everyone is doing the best they know how – trust that almost everyone has good intentions, even if they don’t come out right. Just focus on your mama and making this time meaningful.

Your mom will move to heaven literally a year to the day of when she finds out she has a tumor. On that day, you’ll feel like you’re in a fake world. You’ll feel true joy for your mom, knowing that she is no longer in pain. This freedom will carry you through those first few months. The missing her will set in more around the third month. The longer you go without her, the more you’ll miss her, but you’ll also learn more and more how to deal with the pain of missing her. It’s all abstract and you’ll figure out how to get through it as you go, but here’s what I want you to know: you’re going to be okay. It’s not going to be easy, but it’ll be okay.

You’re going to miss her a lot. You’re going to have so many moments where you’re left wondering if this is all real. You’ll think “is she really gone?” But let me tell you a secret… the thing that’s going to help you the most is thinking of her in heaven – happy, healed, whole, and fully alive. Thinking of her in the present, right there in those hard moments, holding your hand and looking down on you with a smile. Wanting you to know that she wants nothing but happiness for you. This will encourage you more than I can share in words. When you think of these things, you’ll be able to smile, even as you miss her.

Today, as I’m writing to you, it’s been just one day shy of six-months since mama moved to heaven. You’re doing okay – you’re traveling with Marco (you guys have this really cool camper that you take out most weekends!), you’ve made amazing new friends and you’re SO enjoying the town you live in, San Luis Obispo. You’ve got pictures of your mama all around the house, and you talk to her often. It’s hard not having her, but one day at a time, you’re doing okay.

Here’s what I want you to know through all of this as you watch it unfold:

  • You can do hard things – you’re more capable than you know
  • Stay calm, everything will be okay (even if it’s not okay, it will be)
  • Keep your eyes right in front of you, but don’t look too far ahead
  • Don’t compare yourself to others – you’re pretty great just how you are
  • Be nice to others, let yourself play, and don’t take things too seriously

I want you to know just how capable you are. If you want something, put your mind to it and go for it. I’ll write more later, when life unfolds a little more. For now, just keep going. You’re doing great!

Love, Paige
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