If you could talk to your childhood self, what would you say?
Last weekend, on an unseasonably warm Sunday in February, I went for a walk along the Cincinnati riverfront. During my walk, I decided to take a peaceful moment to myself on one of the swings. The swing had 3 seats and I was soon joined by a dad and his little girl who was probably 4 or 5. I don’t know if I was more envious of her beautiful, long curly hair or her carefree smile. I wished I could still look at the world with the same innocence that she did, as she smiled at me and carelessly laughed while she jumped on and off the swing.
The thought occurred to me, what if I could talk to my childhood self? What would I say?
Dear Childhood Kelli,
Hello beautiful girl! I was just admiring the energy and passion you have for life that is evident whenever you step in front of the camera. Please don’t lose this. Life will not always be as smooth as I wish it could be, but you are strong and resilient and this will help carry you through when times are rough.
You are going to travel to amazing places and see amazing things. People are going to come into your life that you don’t know how you ever lived without and before you know it, they will be gone. Paths will cross, some for only a short time, some that last longer and some that will cross many times over.
That same passion you have for life now will manifest in other beautiful, powerful ways. You will get your heartbroken, more than once. What I wish I could do to protect you from that. As much as it hurts and as much as you think you can’t open yourself up again, you must. I hope one day you find the love you deserve and don’t settle for anything less.
Love your brother. Yes, I know a big brother can be a pain sometimes, but he’s all you’ve got. Enjoy the rides in the back of dad’s pick-up truck, the countless baseball games and Saturday mornings at the YMCA — they will soon be memories you will treasure.
Hug mom and dad more than you already do and tell them that you love them. They are “young” parents, you will see and they are doing a pretty amazing job at raising you and your brother. You are their priorities and they would do anything in the world for you.
Be nice to everyone. Don’t become jaded and hard when the world isn’t fair. Say yes. Try new things, but protect your heart. People will hurt you, sometimes even when they don’t mean to. Give people a chance, but not so many that you hurt yourself. Forgive, but don’t forget. Believe in the good in people. But when they show their true colors, don’t try to paint a different picture.
Remember that you are from a small town. There is so much more to the world for you to see, learn, hear and feel. But don’t forget what the small town has taught you: a sense of community, belonging and support.
You are special, you are beautiful and you deserve to be loved. The happiness and passion behind your bright blue eyes makes my heart smile. When you get older and you are feeling lost, find her. Find the funny, compassionate, feisty little girl within you. Please don’t ever let her be forgotten.