Dear Me

As of today, I am eighteen.

I’ve changed considerably during this time period – for the better, I hope, though it’s hard to tell when looking at one’s self. I’ve measured the change in my looks through the Zoo picture-booths, odd as it may sound – take a look.

You can see my loss of braces, and my gaining of contacts – which I wear half the time, allergies permit.

It’s weird, watching yourself grow up. Remember those days when you were smaller, and you looked in the mirror and thought “What will I look like in a year? In ten years? Will I like how I look? Will I be ugly?” I had one of those ‘lightbulb’ moments about a year and a half ago, when my mother and I were shopping at the Avenues.

We had stopped by the bathroom and I was re-applying my lip gloss, fixing my hair – girl stuff, you know, and I looked to the left. There was a little girl, probably about five or six, and she was staring at me with an expression of profound awe on her adorable little-girl face. I knew what that look was, but I was used to feeling it myself rather than being the subject of it. It’s the “Will I ever be as cool as the older girl?” expression – and I realized that I’m being watched. All the time. Everywhere I go. We all are; and I wondered what kind of image was I portraying, the older I got? Am I being a good example to all these little girls who look on me as ‘the cool older girl’ I always looked up to?

Gail Carson Levine once wrote something that has stuck with me through the years. She said “There is a bridge spanning childhood and adulthood; we can never go back.” I thought this sounded awfully grim, and was determined that it would never happen to me. Sure, my looks would change and so would my mentality; but the instant I read that sentence I began to store some childhood magic in my pocket so I could take it out and look at it, no matter how old I got.

I think I’ve done it. Sure, I’ll never be able to fully hold the wonder, blind faith, innocence, and magic of when I was tiny again. Some parts of childhood you let go of just by living and knowing. And then there are some things you never give up.

Things that were never meant to be given up.

When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things. 1 Corinthians 13:11

I did a lot of things when I was little that I don’t do anymore. I don’t end every sentence with “And Tigger, too! Oo-hoo-hoo-hoo!” I don’t squeal “Stop-a kickin’ ME!” every time somebody bumps me under the table. I don’t gallop around the house on all fours, getting rug burns for the sake of pretending I was a wild horse. I don’t need to hear Dr. Suess’s Sleep Book to go to sleep every night.

 Never, when I was small and getting up early to toddle downstairs with a fistful of crayons and an enormous stack of paper, did I see myself where I am now, commissioning art, character designing, illustrating.

Never did I think I would become a geek who could name the Star Wars systems, who gave Vulcan live long and prosper signs to random people, who remembers the names of various Korean singers and calls dad ‘Oppa,’ who knew the ins and outs of fairy tales. Never did I think, when creating highly imaginative stories about super heroes, horse-taming girls, and my blond, cobra-killing heroine Amanda that I would one day be totally devoted to writing.

I’ve done a lot of growing up, but I still have a lot to learn. This past year has been a year of learning for me. I’ve learned so many spiritual things – God has been showing me I need to root my main monster of Self Centeredness (I need continual nudging). I’ve learned so much about the writing craft that some days it feels I could float it on an ocean and not sink (very handy for the times my book gets shipwrecked).

I’ve learned to be a little lighter, I’ve learned I love to make other people laugh, I’ve learned that I can’t actually fly, which is why I lean out the car window and pretend I can. Or I write about it.

I’ve learned that it isn’t scary to walk up and say ‘hi’ to random strangers.

I’ve helped some friends through tough times, and it’s made me stronger. I’ve grown closer to my family, and my little sister especially (we have too many private jokes to count, I’m sure, as evidenced by the odd notes on the eraser board between our rooms).

I’ve cried a little and laughed a lot.

It has been a splendiferous year, in spite of its tough times. I feel as if I’ve grown a lot as a person;  as if more and more I’m becoming ‘who I am’ without wandering about the forest of life trying to find my way. I don’t know what this next year will hold, but I’m excited about it. I feel caught somewhere between London and Neverland; and I hope I get to stay there, though I might feel the pains of ‘growing up.’ I’ve never been in the habit of writing to myself, though I’ve done it once or twice before. However, as this is a fairly large birthday – the marker of my first step into something like adulthood – I think it best I should give myself a few reminders.

Dear Me,

 This year, you are going to remember –

Life, while it isn’t about you, is yours to make beautiful.

Don’t be afraid to talk to strangers, do crazy things, and live outside the box.

Remember to keep your priorities straight, since you obviously can’t do the same for your head.

Don’t let anything crowd God’s space in your heart.

If you want something, you’ve got to work for it.

Try new things.

Don’t be afraid to be yourself; as long as you’re pleasing God, it doesn’t matter what others think.

Make 17 proud, and make 18 a year to remember.

~ Yourself

 

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What I want to be

“What do you want to be when you grow up?”

How many times were you asked that as a child? I know I was asked it so many times I couldn’t count, and I never had an answer. There were too many things, life was too full of options and choices, how could I narrow it all down to one little choice? Sometimes I would say “Artist” – that was my fallback. I drew all the time; crayon horses and dragons and my superhero-girl Amanda who killed giant cobras with a sword and had long, blond hair and was totally kicked gluteus-maximus.

But the truth is, I just didn’t know. I wouldn’t think much about it, I’d just shrug and answer and walk away with maybe a vague “Huh, I wonder what I do want to be,” or more frequently “Why do people always ask me that?”

But the older I got, the more I thought about that question. The less people asked me, the more I asked myself. What do I want to be when I grow up?

If I were to be honest, and I generally do my best to be, I would have to say  – I still don’t know. I mean, I know some things – I want to be like Jesus. I want to be a published author. I want to be an illustrator. I’d love to be a singer, or an actress, or make movie trailers or name paint chips or own a bookshop where I could try and pick a book for everyone who walked in like the woman in Chocolate. (But with books.)

I was just on the phone with a dear friend of three years, Cassie, and she mentioned my up-and-coming eighteenth birthday. She posed the question “So, are you ready?”

“Ready for what?”

“To be eighteen.”

I had to think about that for a moment. It was an odd question, but a good one. And honestly, my feelings differ depending on the moment. Some days, I feel far more mature than anyone else my age I know. I feel like the responsible one, like all my motherly instincts are out in full force and I am the epitome of mature, godly wisdom. (cough) And then other days, when I’m in a particularly goofy mood, I feel a bit immature. As Cassie put it so aptly, I stand there and wonder “Do I measure up to average?”

Here’s the thing, though.

I don’t want to measure up to average. I want to be different. I want to be myself. I’m the girl who prefers rain over sunshine. I’m the girl who sings Kpop in the shower and butchers my favorite language on earth (many apologies to Korea) just because it sounds awesome. I mix up my priorities and procrastinate. I have dozens and dozens of inside jokes with many different people, all of which make me crack up. I don’t have a delicate laugh; it’s more like a really loud cackle. I have flyaway hair and like to wear huge, bright earrings. I’m the girl who, if I’m given a camera, will take a thousand no-good pictures just because I can. I’m the girl who USES CAPS A LOT BECAUSE WHEN I GET REALLY EXCITED OVER THE INTERNET I WANT EVERYONE ELSE TO KNOW!!!!!!!! I love anything that has to do with Alice in Wonderland; as evidenced by what I made and put on my wall –

I’m the girl who wants pizza muffins and fudge for my birthday instead of a huge dinner and cake. I’m the girl who wants to be an example of Christ more than anything, but messes up more than anyone else I know. I’m the girl who looks in the mirror and thinks I’m ugly half the time and pretty the other half, when in reality I generally look like this –

(See, there’s the flyaway hair I was telling you about!) I’m the girl who obsesses over things for a few months and then jealously defends them the rest of her life unless proven wrong (which takes a lot of proof). I manage to be both introverted and extroverted, and I manage to look twenty-two some days and fifteen on others. (I don’t think it counts as a talent, but I can put it on my resume). I can do impressions of pretty much anyone and have my family in stitches, but sometimes I have trouble with finding who ‘I’ am. (Note: You/me is not the answer. It’s God.) I’m the girl who had to be dragged kicking and screaming to go camping, only to discover that I actually liked it and my hair didn’t get as greasy as I thought it would. I’m the girl who wakes up at two am to write down a book idea. I’m the girl who doesn’t dream nearly as often as I’d like, doesn’t frighten at horror movies, and hasn’t had a nightmare since she was ten.

I’m the girl who can quote movies after seeing them only once, but has trouble memorizing things for school. I’m the girl who taught herself to read when she was little, but is still in Algebra 1. (I’m almost done, though! YES!) I’m the girl who loves hot chocolate, even if people never put enough whipped cream on it. I drink lots of tea and coffee in a day and I have an enormous sweet tooth. I can never, EVER remember phone messages unless I write them down. I’m the girl who names EVERYTHING, from roses to iPods. I get excited when I hear a tornado siren, and I roll over and go back to sleep when the fire alarm goes off. I’m the girl who writes fanfiction to mend my heart when a sad ending breaks it. I’m the girl who always feels sorry for the villains and antiheroes and wants desperately to see them redeem themselves.

I’m almost grown up. Some days I feel it, and some days I don’t. Some days I’m ready to enter the world of adults, and some days I want to fly to Neverland and not come back. 

What do I want to be?

I want to be the best me that I can be. That’s what.

Happy Birthday to meeeee…

Seriously, I had a wonderful birthday. Though technically yesterday was NOT my birthday. April 26th was. But we celebrated it – presents, dinner, and cake that was actually brownies and mint-chocolate-chip ice cream-yesterday, on Friday.

Mom, me, and my sister Riah drove to Serenbe, a beautiful little planned community about a half-hour away, and spent four hours there. We had lunch at the Blue-eyed Daisy, a restauraunt/cafe that is absolutely adorable. We had coconut macaroons (scrumptious), coffee (yummy) and Izzes (fizzy!) After that we went and shopped around the little stores crowding the street; one called “Bloom! a shop of unruly things” was expensive, but so cute! And I LOVED the ‘unruly things’.

Then we went into another fantastic store called “The Bilt House,” full of delightful and creative things, including a reading chair/ottoman that I want for my room very much. We went into a wine-and-chocolate shop where the man gave me a caramel-pecan praline that was very good – and didn’t stick in my braces! *aahhh, bliss* and Mom bought me a toffee-chocolate bar from Chocolate XOXOXO, my favorite chocolate brand.

Next we hit a store full of cool recycled things, and Mom bought me a little grouping of beautiful feathers. I think I’ll glue them to a headband, they’re so pretty.

We drove home and prepared dinner – homemade pizza curtosy of Mom (so good), brownies (curtosy of Riah, delish) and peppermint-chocolate-chip ice cream (curtosy of Publix!)

I had a treasure hunt, which is a family tradition where Dad writes clues that rhyme on strips of paper and leads me through the house… down the stairs… outside… back up the stairs… back down the stairs… back up the stairs… and finally to the ‘treasure’ at the end. This time it was blank CD’s and cases, woohoo! More music for my room and the car!

I got a plethora of wonderful presents, which I shall list here.

1. A CD player (including iPod/mp3 jack!! WOOHOO!) Mine had died and I had to listen to my headphones all the time.

2. “Joyfully at Home” by Jasmine Baucham. I had been wanting this since BEFORE it came out; I’m on the second chapter and love it!

3. “The Family Daughter” by Sarah Bryant and a subscription to King’s Blooming Rose magazine. I had been subscribed to this a few years back and really loved it. I’m glad to start up again!

4. Arrows for my bow!

5. A $25 Amazon.com gift card from my aunt – I bought 3 art books with it!!

6. “The Great Escape” from my sister. One of my favorite movies – “No taxation without representation!”

7. A Tolkein Beastiary by David Day. WOOHOO!

8. A collection of ♥Beatrix Potter♥ stories!!

9. A beautiful floral mirror for my vanity (or… desk-turned-vanity)

10. A drawing from my nephew of a dog! He’s quite talented!

11. How to Train Your Dragon from my friend Awel Prince, along with the Tangled soundtrack, the How To Train your Dragon soundtrack, the Widow’s Might soundtrack, and a compliation of music from Capu Productions!

12. Owl City’s newest CD coming out in June from my friend Ithilwen!!

13. A gorgeous pewter feather ring from my sister Melanie, her husband Joel, and my nephews and nieces!

14. A plethora of Star Trek/Tolkien Books from my friend Marlayne Giron!!

I know I have a few packages on the way to me from friends (they’ve told me, haha) I’ll tell you what they are when I get them!

I love my family and friends, and I had a supercalifradulisticexpialidocious day! Thank you ALL!!!

xoxoxoxo,

Ëarwen