Letter to My 18-Year-Old Self

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Taken shortly after my high school graduation, June, 1970. I am holding my diploma in a black folder. The girl in the gold dress is my friend and classmate Jan Oborne (Furtado). The other girl is my cousin Bärbel, who was visiting from Germany, and in front of her my brother, Bill. I wouldn’t turn 18 until November.

Dear Andie,

Wow—1970 has been a year of firsts for you. First semester of music school, first time living away from home, first time living in a big city, first taste of independence. I know you’re loving it, and you should. This is the best time of your life so far.

A word of warning: watch what you eat. So much of what you see in the cafeteria looks delicious, but not all of it is nutritious. You’ve already put on a few pounds, and if you keep eating everything you want, you’ll be struggling with your weight all your life. Think of food as fuel—eat what will turn you into a lean, mean learning machine. Eat to live, don’t live to eat.

The people you surround yourself with now will influence your next decade. Choose wisely. Some will be life-long friends; others will forget you as soon as they’re out of your sight.

While your first responsibility is your studies, this is also a time for experiences. Accompany your friends on trips and activities. Go to concerts. See a waterfall. Explore a museum. Walk the city. Go to tourist traps. You’ll remember these occasions all your life.

Do some things for others. Help a friend. Volunteer for a charity. Do something to benefit the university. You’ll develop some skills and do some good.

Write or call home. Although it takes effort, Mom will appreciate getting a weekly letter. Throw in a photograph when you can. Long distance calls are expensive, but once in a while treat Mom and Dad to the sound of your voice.

You will fall in love more than once. You will be vulnerable. You will be hurt. Be careful. Be choosy. But a life-long love is in your future. Be good to him.

You are living in a time of great change—and the changes will be even greater and swifter as time goes on. Don’t be rigid; your success is dependent on how well you can adapt. Even that job you’re looking forward to will change before you graduate. Over your lifetime, you will have opportunities to do many things. Be flexible.

Your life will be a series of challenges. Some will be very hard, but you will get through them all. I’ll tell you a secret—you will have divine help. Even though you don’t trust Him now, God will be with you, and He will see you through.

Sincerely,

Yourself from a half-century in the future

About Andrea R Huelsenbeck

Andrea R Huelsenbeck is a wife, a mother of five and a former elementary general music teacher. A freelance writer in the 1990s, her nonfiction articles and book reviews appeared in Raising Arizona Kids, Christian Library Journal, and other publications. She is currently working on a young adult mystical fantasy novel and a mystery.

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