Dear 12 year old me, there's so much you're about to endure the years ahead of you. Your in 6th grade and your life's about to change before your eyes. The little girl, in the photo above will never be the same. And if only I knew how to save you from yourself and from the people that would come into your life, speaking death, I would give everything I had knowing you could be a little less broken during these next 10 years of pure heart break. But know this, you've made it this far so don't give up now.
Dear 13 year old me, this is where it gets tough. As you transfer to a new school for your 7th grade year, be strong even through all the bullying, harassment and being an outcast. When you are crying alone in your bedroom wondering for the first time if what they're saying is true, and you would be better off dead, know that you have lived a life where you are now 21. That even through all the pain you have hung on. That this is the year you find your voice. That you would speak about your story all across the states, touching the lives of people around you, that you, 5 years later, would open for legendary christian artists and be able to speak your truth on a stage surrounded by thousands of people. You, 7 years later would move to your dream destination with the love of your life and learn some very valuable lessons.
Dear 14 year old me, your family just took the leap to move up north to a small town and 8th grade will be one of the hardest years you have ever lived. The things that will happen to you this year, will carry with you farther then you can imagine right now. Dear 14 year old me, on January 10th, 2011, the boy that you loved and thought loved you, will hold you down in his bedroom and take something you can never get back. He will make you feel worthless, and like this is your fault for not wanting this. He will tell you lies and cheat on you over and over again making you feel like you will never be good enough. As you walk the halls at school, keep it a secret and hide what happened to you for the next year, know that each year, you start to not cry on January 10th, and each year your heart doesn't feel so broken inside. Time really is everything.
Dear 15 year old me, you gave yourself away because you thought your pride was already taken so what's the point anymore. You allowed yourself to get walked on, and changed all your dreams and plans to follow a boy. He made you laugh and cry, and he taught you what you did and didn't want in your husband one day. You learn so many lessons this year with this relationship, that your too broken to even love yourself anymore. Know that this hurt doesn't last long and leaving was the best thing you could ever do for yourself.
Dear 16 year old me, on August 10th, 2013 you will meet the love of your life. He will cherish you and love you like no one ever has before. He will bring you flowers for no reason and even become apart of your dream with you. You will also release your first original song on iTunes, and your heart will feel so full knowing that you're on your way to your destiny. Dear 16 year old me, mom and dad are finally building the house they always dreamed of on the lake, and it seems like things are slowly starting to get better. But as you look closer and as time goes on, you'll realize how much their marriage is breaking apart.
Dear 17 year old me, you will meet a young girl that will change your life and make you question how your living it. She will change you like you never thought possible and make you realize how precious life is. Dear 17 year old me, your dreams have came true, you are recording in Nashville TN. Everything you have dreamed of is happening right now. A cd of all originals gets to be out in the world, showing people your passions and what your heart strings are holding on to. You get to open for Amy freaking Grant and she leaves her meet and greet even to come listen to you and greets you as you walk off her stage. You'll graduate early and do your career speaking and singing at schools full time. Life is perfect. Little do you know, the week before you leave to record, your parents will sit you and your little sister down in morning before school and tell you that they are separating. You wont cry, because you saw this coming and right now, you're so hurt and in shock you cant even process it. But alone in your bedroom, and in the shower and in your car, you're taking it harder than anyone in the family, because it's your senior year, and now the future doesn't look so bright after all. This year there will be so many highs and lows and you will learn life lessons that will stick with you forever and ever.
Dear 18 year old me, on September 4th, 2015 you will deal with the loss of a friend for the very first time. You will learn first hand that even when you pray harder than you've ever prayed for them to stay, and the cancer to just go away, sometimes God doesn't always answer them for some reason. You will learn what being angry and sad and hurt and every emotion in the next few months looks like. You will start to want to control something in your life, because everything seems out of control, and you'll start using food as a stress reliever; You can control your eating habits and that's the only thing that you find that helps you deal with the pain. Dear 18 year old me, chin up, your moving to Nashville in just 4 short months. You've been dreaming about this your entire life. Your soul is on fire. you are ready to take on the world. This life was made for you.
Dear 19 year old me, you just got to Nashville and love everything about it, the lights on Broadway, the way the air smells and the sounds that come from every bar on that street. You look into the window wondering where this journey will take you, never thinking it'll take you where it does. Dear 19 year old me, you will learn that you may have to give away a piece of who you truly are to become something you want to be, and after tears and late nights struggling to just stay alive, you realize that all this is not worth your soul and your faith.
Dear 20 year old me, you will pack up everything you love and go back home. With your head held high, faking that your going to be okay, but really inside you just feel like a failure. Like you've let everyone down. All your fans, family, friends, all the people who knew you were going to be someone, and do something amazing. Your anxiety will be so bad, you'll feel like blacking out and most times you'll feel like your going to die. Your fiancé will bring you to the emergency room 3 times this year, before you finally realize that indeed it's just a panic attack and you're truly not dying. Don't worry this fades and you will find out how to calm yourself down before it happens again. You will speak and sing at schools this year and find out that speaking is actually your true passion and fame is not exactly your style. You will always put makeup on even to go to Walmart because God, forbid anyone see you not put together. Dear 20 year old me, on September 23rd, 2017 you will marry the love of your life. You're excited, but scared because even though you love him more than anything and anyone, It's a huge commitment and you know that no matter what happens, there's no turning back. People will put your relationship on a pedestal and expect a lot out of both of you, but hunny, being perfect is incapable, and being put together always, is unreasonable.
Dear 21 year old me, its been one hell of a year and if I'm being honest one that you will never forget. You feel like a failure, you've questioned your career, your life, everything about you. You've decided to give up a lot and made up your mind that being here isn't an option. You've realized how a real marriage works and why unconditional love is so tough. You've screamed at God asking WHY ME. You've even stopped allowing Him in this year. You've realized that being yourself is something you need to fight for and saying no, is okay. You've realized that even the people you love, even your closest friends, will let you down, and the only person who follows through is God. You've given up on trying. On loving, living, on life. You've hit rock bottom harder than you've ever hit before. You don't see the end of the darkness and you start wondering what your purpose here even really is. You spend every night restless because really your just holding on by a string right now. Dear 21 year old me, go look yourself in the mirror, don't you dare give up.
Dear future me, stop doubting yourself, stop lying to yourself, stop listening to what others say about you, stop telling yourself your not good enough. Because YOU ARE damn it! You are worth so much more then your past failures, you are worth so much more then how people have treated you. You are worth so much more then you could ever wrap your mind around. And for pete sake you better get up, and live this life like you were meant to live it. You better wake up and realize how special your life truly is and how much you've accomplished at this age. You better look yourself in the mirror every single morning and realize just how beautiful you are. Your face, your body, your smile, your personality, everything about you is so special and beautiful in its own way. You better chase after your God faster than you've ever chased him. You better love your husband, your family, your friends harder than ever before. You better look up and realize that who you are depends on whose you are, and you are HIS. Dear future me, run after your passions and stop letting people and things, hold you back. Dear future me, don't give up, look back and realize that each year you didn't, you'll find out your closer to who you were always meant to be. Dear future me, you are loved, you are blessed, you are worthy.