Dear Me: Responding to a Letter from 15-Year-Old Self

JULIA SERRA | OPINION COLUMNIST

Dear Younger Julia,

Upon recognizing the younger version of my handwriting, I expected a brief account of memories you wouldn’t want me to forget and some shallow words of encouragement. What I wasn’t expecting was your crippling fear of the corruption that, in your 15-year-old mind, must follow the shift to the college lifestyle.

It was as if God could not possibly follow me through such a massive change from your static existence. Your letter is filled with an overwhelming desire for everything to stay the same, to just tuck yourself away in a cave and wait until time has passed you and hit some other innocent civilian. I don’t think you understand how change works. I haven’t lost you so much as I’ve changed the way we fit into this world.

Looking at your fears from a future perspective, change has come at me in ways you’re not expecting. I’m probably not exactly what you want me to be. I don’t know how comfortable you’d feel with the paths I’m choosing to take. You probably understand the passions I’ve discovered, especially my calling towards social justice.

You’re still so timid and lack the self-awareness to understand why God put you in this messed-up universe. (Not that I understand that now; I’m just not as debilitatingly afraid of the question.) Although change has tainted me in some ways, I haven’t lost sight of my faith, and I haven’t become so jaded that I’ve lost you entirely. Although you’re a little disillusioned, more than anything you’re confused.

All you really want is for me to stay strong in my faith and to have some sort of impact on the people around us. Despite our difference, we ultimately want the same things. I’m only trying to replace your fear of change with my own passion for progress. These two things cannot exist separately. In order to make our lives better and to try and introduce some hope into this constant mess of a world, we have to face this fear of change.

You wrote to me, “Don’t lose me but rather evolve me. Use where I am now as a reference point for later.” I can’t say I remember exactly what you were thinking of when you wrote this, it’s a little vague, but it reminds me to motivate myself with the fears of the Julia sitting on the floor of the church library.

She still exists in the same sphere of time and space that I am living in now, and wherever you are and in whatever abstract state you still live, I hope that I’m doing you justice. It’s impossible for me to exactly fit the image you have for me, that image has changed a little every day since you wrote me, but while your fears have proved to be slightly irrational, I owe it to my you to live my daily life with passion, in pursuit of progress and ultimately with God at the center of it all. Perhaps if I stay on that path, I can maintain a semblance of the consistency you so desperately want while still fighting for the progress I’ve since realized I’m called to achieve.

Sincerely,

Older Julia

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