Thoughts from a Seventeen Year-Old

A few days before I graduated high school, my English teacher had us write a letter to our future selves in five years. After we wrote them, he said he would hang on to them, and send them to us in 2013, if he could. At the time I probably didn’t think the letter would ever reach me, but true to his word, Mr. Reyes managed to get my current address over Facebook, and the letter arrived a couple days ago. Reading it was nearly equal parts funny, nostalgic, and thought provoking, and I figured maybe you guys would get a kick out of it. Here it is, with my fill-in-the-gaps commentary.

Dear Kaitlin,  

Right now I am sitting in your AP Literature class. Erica is sitting next to me, and I can hear Mr. Reyes bantering with Joey and Danny. Some student brought a peanut butter and chocolate candy thing , and now Joey is begging for water. I’ll let him waterfall mine.

Anyhow, it’s the end of May, 2008, and in five days I will be graduating from high school. It’s such a weird feeling knowing that I’m not going to be coming back to Bradshaw in the fall! But I am going to Biola in the fall! I wonder if I’ll still be going there by the time I read this again. Most likely I’ll be graduated from somewhere, but who knows where.

I did go to Biola, for two wonderful years. But circumstances brought me back home to Sacramento, and I graduated from CSU Sacramento (Sac State to the locals) in 2012 with a BA in Humanities & Religious Studies. I’ve always found it a bit ironic that I was an English major at Biola (a private Christian university), which I could have been at any college in the country, and it was only after transferring home to a public university that I chose to go the Humanities route, which was taught almost exclusively by liberal professors whose personal beliefs and biases were on the opposite side of the world from my own. But I was glad of the change all the same, because 1) I just plain enjoyed the material, regardless of who taught it, and 2) being taught in that manner forced me to become a more independent thinker. I learned that any form of information, no matter how hard we try, can only be conveyed through a filter of personal bias, and so it is up to the student to form their own opinion on the subject matter (often through personal research) instead of passively accepting the information as fact. Anyhow, I digress.

There’s such a unique culture going on in our country right now. American Idol just finished its seventh season, and David Cook won. Other shows like Dancing with the Stars, The Office, and Lost are popular right now.

Funny to think that my idea of “culture” at 17 was what TV shows were popular at the time. Oh Kaity, how little you knew.

Gas prices are up to nearly $4.00 a gallon. I even saw a news  piece this morning about how more people than ever are riding their bikes to work. My favorite books right now are classics — anything written by Jane Austen or Francine Rivers, the Chronicles of Narnia, things like that. My music collection is pretty eclectic. Most recently I bought Sharp Dressed Man from iTunes by ZZ Top.

Reading this made me realize that in spite of all the growing up I’ve done in the last five years, I really haven’t changed much. My preferences have changed and expanded some, but C.S. Lewis, Francine Rivers, and Jane Austen are still at the top of my favorite authors list, and good ‘ol classic rock still blasts over my radio on a regular basis.

(Oh my goodness, Danny just said he was going to marry me… again.)

This was a running joke between me and Danny B. through most of high school. I’m not even sure how it started, now that I think about it… but it was always a joke between buddies, like when two friends make a pact to marry each other if they don’t find anybody better by the time they’re 30. 

My friend’s dad [Senator] McClintock is running for Congress right now. I wonder how [she] feels about that. It’s also an election year. Senator McCain is the Republican candidate, and Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton are fighting over the Democratic nomination. I can’t wait to vote in the fall. 🙂 

I wonder what it will be like in 2013? We’ve had so many disasters in the last decade already with 9/11 and Katrina and the tsunamis and earthquakes in Asia. It’ll be interesting to see how many more happen in the next five years. Is gas like $6.00  gallon now? Or has someone finally started drilling in Alaska?

We surely have had more disasters since then. From the earthquakes in Japan to the recent tornadoes in Oklahoma, it seems like the natural disasters just keep coming. But I suppose that’s the way of things. But thankfully, gas hasn’t quite reached $6.00 a gallon yet. 😉

Will we have had a woman President yet? I wouldn’t be surprised if Hillary Clinton somehow snaked her way into office.

A pretentious statement for a 17 year-old, I know, and it’s probably not something I would say outright today. I’m definitely not opposed to having a woman in office, and I have nothing against Mrs. Clinton personally… but at the same time I can’t say my conservative political leanings have changed either. We’ll just leave it at that.

Oh, are you still living in Elk Grove? It’ll be sad to see how many of the open fields will be gone. Everything is growing so fast around here. We’re supposed to be getting a new mall soon.

Yes, I am still living in Elk Grove. And although there’s been a lot of development over the last few years, there’s still plenty of open fields with the occasional cow or horse to drive past, so I’m thankful. As for the mall….well, it’s still only partly finished, gathering dust and growing grass after construction halted due to the recession.

I guess the one thing I’m looking forward to in getting to where you are right now is meeting someone. ❤ And if you still haven’t met anyone yet, don’t worry about it. Really. You’re a beautiful woman. But if you have…I can’t wait to meet him. ❤ ❤

Ohhhh, the thoughts that came to mind when I read this bit. The seventeen year-old that wrote this had not yet been in a relationship, and she was blissfully unaware of both the joys and heartbreaks to come. Over the last five years, I have to say that my relationships have been the one dynamic that instigated the most change in me. I always wanted to be the girl who only had to date one guy, and shuddered at the idea of multiple relationships, multiple heartbreaks. The one-relationship dream was not to be, but the ways God has chosen to mold my spirit through those experiences have been life-altering in ways I could not have begun to imagine. Most of those changes have been good, but alas, I am still a human with faults. God knows this, of course, and I’m sure He will continue to hammer out kinks and fill in voids as time goes by. But as of now, I’m still waiting for the right man to capture my heart. And I’m okay with that.

I suppose as I close I just want to remind you of a few things. Don’t forget how important God is to you. I know you tend to lose track of him sometimes, but understand — He is everything. Nothing else in life matters. He’s done so many wonderful things in our life and brought us through so many hardships already. I can’t wait to see where five years bring us. 🙂

I was surprised at the wisdom that came out at the end of this letter. Turns out I knew myself better than I thought I did. I still struggle with “losing track of God” in my inadequate attempts at self-sufficiency. I try to run my own life, pursue the things I think will fulfill me, only to find everything meaningless and empty without my Jesus. If my life were a book, it would be one of the major themes. But praise God, He is good to me. In His mercy He has never allowed my wanderings to be so long or distant to cause too much trouble, and He is always eager to embrace me when the blinders come off and I choose to seek Him once more. As I continue to walk through life, I hope to not only become more loyal to Him, but to truly know Him for who He is.

Oh, and one more thing…if you haven’t written a book yet, do it. It’s been such a dream to you, you can’t afford to give it up.

No, I still haven’t written that book…but it’s on my bucket list. Remind me again once NaNoWriMo is closer. 😉

And don’t be afraid to follow the dream God puts in your life — it’s there for a reason.

Point taken.

Yours Sincerely,

Kaity Harding ❤


1 thought on “Thoughts from a Seventeen Year-Old

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