Hey 17  Year Old Sam,

It’s me, You. Older you. Can you believe it’s our birthday? We’re turning the big 2-7 today. Weird, right? I know you were hoping to have done a lot and be a lot of things by this age. I don’t know if I lived up to your expectation. Probably not. But we live a good life. Here’s a lowdown on your life in 10 years.

First of all, you don’t live in New York City as a graphic designer/Broadway actress/baker. You’re also not on an awesome cross county road trip with your dog. You work an 8-5 job in a climate controlled building, and wear business casual clothes (more casual than you think your boss likes). I know, I know, that’s something we told ourselves we would never do, but you actually don’t mind it. You work with some cool and intelligent people, you get to make maps all day, and when you tell people what you do they’re usually impressed. And the pay isn’t bad either. You also still live at home, but you secretly-not-so-secretly love it. You love being able to come home to your mom and brother. You love seeing them everyday, existing together as a unit. You guys are way closer now. It’s great.

While I’m on the topic of family, stop being such a jerk to them. Try speaking in non-condesending tones. Try speaking and acting out of love and not selfishness. You’re going to realize they’re the most important people in you life, they’re the people you love most, and that you’ve hurt them a lot with your actions and words. And when you realize all that you’re going to feel horrible. Truly horrible. Save yourself that pain and start loving on them now.

If memory serves me correctly you just got caught ditching school for the first and only time. I now know we did that because of anxiety. Anxiety about something at school that day. I want to tell you that was the only time anxiety won in our lives. Sadly, it’s not. But we learn to overcome it at times and we’re getting better at it. Speaking of school, you’ll be meeting your best friend in a couple of months. Allie. She’s loving and kind and encouraging. She’ll redefine your meaning of friendship. You guys are still best friends and it’s one of the most important relationships in your life.

You’re not dating anyone. You’ve actually never dated anyone. But it’s okay. I know you think it’s2007_0107florida0025 pathetic right now, but you’ll learn there’s more to life than being in a romantic relationship with some one. You’ll learn to be extremely happy for those who are, but still extremely happy that you’re not. You like your independence, you like doing what you want to do when you want to do it, you like discovering who you are. One day we’ll find someone worthy of our time and love. We’ll find some one whose love and time we’re worthy of. Fingers crossed he knows Celine Dion personally. OH, and that guy you have a major crush on right now, who you think you’ll marry? Yeah, he just got married to a really awesome woman. You’re not too bummed over it. They look happy and and in love and you’re kind of happy for them.

You’ve traded in your baby fat for full on adult fat. Hate to break it to you, but you haven’t lost any weight. You still have body image issues, but you’re slowly but surely overcoming them. You’ve surrounded yourself with people who have made you realize there’s more to you than what you weigh. These people are also your biggest encouragers and inspiration,  and you fear you don’t show them enough love and appreciation.

Screen Shot 2015-12-04 at 11.22.25 PMSometime next year you’ll quit AP Econ and join the school yearbook team. Your teacher, also named Samantha, will let you take home the camera multiple times. This changes your life. You’ll start taking photos of your friends and your mom will get you an awesome camera for your graduation present. Not too long after you’ll start earning money from photography. In college you’ll take B&W photography classes and you’ll fall in love with the process of developing prints. Now you make pretty good money taking photos of families. Your real passion, though, is travel photography, maybe a little bit of photojournalism, too. You’ll love photography so much it’ll make your heart hurt at times.

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Your dreams of seeing the world are coming true, kiddo. You’re traveling. A lot. Not as much as you would like, but more than you thought you would. You’ve seen where Jesus was born, you’ve rode an elephant with a friend from Australia, you’ve walked down a dark alley in Tokyo for the perfect bowl of Ramen. You’ve eaten tapas in Barcelona, walked down the ancient roads of Pompeii, and rode a boat across the Seine in Paris. Oh, the places you will go.

For some reason you don’t feel accomplished or successful, though people tell you you are. You don’t know why you feel this way. You struggle with what you want in life everyday. You want to travel and write, but you also want the security and the safety that comes with being home. You’re more timid, the confidence you once had in your future a little less. You pray to God for courage daily. You still want to do good in the world, but you’re a bit jaded. A lot is going on in the world now, and you are way more aware of it than before. You still have hope, that hasn’t waned. That hope and faith is what gets you through your early 20s and some of your darkest days. You’ll learn what depression is, but you wont know what it is when it happens. You’re going to be scared and lonely and you wont know when it ends. It does, though. Slowly. And by the grace of God you find you way out of that dark forest. You wont talk about it, to anyone, only in a letter to your past self.

You still haven’t spoken to your father. I know, we pray every night for that, to see him again. The jab to your heart that he’s not in your life isn’t weaker, but you’re stronger now and you’re learning to take the punch. It still hurts, but not as much. Maybe one day you’ll see him, but you know if you don’t you’ll be okay.

The wounds you don’t know you have are slowly healing. You’re a warrior now. Well, you’ve always been a warrior, you just didn’t know it. Some one will call you one and it’ll feel like some one lit a candle in a dark portion of your heart. With the healing of these wounds comes grace. You’re able to show grace to those around you now. You’re able to start healing wounds you have caused others.

You’re happy. You’re living a very fortunate life. You’re learning to show your appreciation and love to those around you and you’re getting better at it every day. You really love your family. You have fun spending your time with them, growing with them.

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You’re still a bit awkward, but it’s no longer hindering. Actually, it’s pretty funny at times. You laugh a lot, and see the humor in life. You still love learning and entertain the thought of becoming a history teacher for some reason. You’re still tone deaf, but that hasn’t kept you from belting out show tunes in your car. You’re not as obsessed with Wicked anymore, but still know all the lyrics to the entire show. You can’t run a mile, but you do have a killer upper cut. You’re a feminist now, too. Right now in your life you don’t really understand what a feminist is, but when you do, you’ll realize you’ve been one your entire life. You’re also a writer. It’s still fairly new to you, but you’re finding your rhythm. You’ll write with the goal of being inspirational, but usually  just end up with a bunch of sarcastic jokes. You don’t mind really, because you enjoy the laughter that comes from those who read your blog. You’re surrounded by people who love and celebrate you, and it’s overwhelming at times, but you’re learning to accept it and reciprocate it.

Also, your love for Celine Dion is still going strong. So so strong.

I’m so excited for what you’ll become. For what we’ll become. There’s something on the horizon about to break. I can’t tell what it is yet, but when I do I’ll let you know. Live your life with faith, Sam. Have faith in God, in your family, in yourself. Live your life like a warrior. A warrior for God, a warrior for what you love, a warrior for yourself. You’re going to do great things, kid. I know it.

Til next year.

Much Love. Always.

– Sam, 27 Years Old

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p.s.

Next year you’re going to fall “in love” with a guy you think is perfect. He’s gay. Apparently everyone could tell but you. Don’t let it get you down for too long.