I would go back to my younger self and tell her that there will be troubles ahead but that things will turn out for the best in the end.
I started thinking about what I would say to my younger self this morning and realized that I wouldn’t change anything about my life. It probably turned out better than it could have had I changed anything at any point along the way. I have a loving husband, two beautiful kids, a warm house, a talented horse who pushes me to be a better rider, several books available, and a small but growing fan base of readers. That’s a lot of dreams come true.
None of it came without trials along the way, though. I was lonely for a long time and poor. I grew up a farmer’s daughter. Farmers don’t make a lot of money. I also grew up with terrible acne and that’s awful to one’s self-esteem. I never thought I was pretty, and I was always shy, so I focused on my horses. I also loved to read and to make up stories. I was a nerd with good grades who didn’t party and avoided socializing much. I wanted to but it was hard. I pushed myself into speech competition at my small town school and learned to show and train horses in 4-H.
I had crushes on boys who wouldn’t give me a second glance and that hurt. Then in college, I actually started getting noticed but didn’t realize it yet, probably because I went through my first real bout of serious depression. I lost my brother right before my last year of college and right after I found a horse after being three years horse-less.
I struggled after college to pay my bills and lived in some bad apartments. I hated my jobs, because I had a college degree and always felt like I was never good enough anyway–experience means more than education, which is only the icing on the cake for employers. That hurt my ego.
I’ve dealt with a lot of crap in my horse life too. I’ve had to tolerate people who looked down on me because I had a Paint and not an Arabian, because my horse did something not quite right, because I was a cowgirl and not an english rider, because I was an english rider and not a cowgirl/trail rider, because I had a young horse and not a well broke horse, etc. etc. People always find some way to put you down. But I found a great instructor who taught me a lot and has always been very positive. Now I have a beautiful warmblood who is teaching me more than I ever imagined and is taking me places I had only dreamed about in high school.
I wanted to write stories and be read. I participated in workshops and critique groups. I had my ego torn down and stomped on many times, but it’s nothing compared to reader reviews when they don’t like something. My cousin asked me recently about some advice for a friend of hers and I told her that he needs to participate in critique groups and submit to agents and editors. It’s the only way to truly improve your writing. Readers are harsher critics than agents and editors, and those aren’t private reviews. Going through all the rejection and dejection made me stronger as a writer and gave me the skills I need to tell a good story. It took eighteen years to come to fruition, but it was worth it. (I am a late bloomer.)
Life is never easy, but all the struggles make us stronger. Through it all, I never lost my faith in God. Yes, I questioned it a few times, but holding onto even the weakest thread gave me hope and pulled me out of the darkest low points. I learned that the struggles we face in life are there to teach us and give us choices. If we choose right, we’re made stronger and more resilient. And I learned that God never challenges us with more than we can handle.
If you don’t believe in this, that’s fine, but I hope you find some hope in it. If I had a time machine, I’d go back and tell my younger self “Just hold in there. One day it will all work out for the best.”