Life Lessons: A Letter to My 15 Year Old Self

Dear Cordelia,

You don’t even know what is ahead of you. 

You are going to have a wonderful life. You are going to have everything that you want. You will have the friends that you prayed for, and the hope that you hoped for. Your family is going to be happy. You will know peace and calm, and you will feel flashes of lightning when it comes time for thunder, the kind that illuminates the night. 

Be comfortable being uncomfortable

Your uncle is going to meet you, choose you, and help finish raising you. He is going to pour into you, edifying, setting the foundation for the rest of your life. He’s going to tell you, “Be comfortable being uncomfortable,” and it will become the motto of your life. You will learn that if you are uncomfortable but you’re not being harmed, you’re probably growing. Transformation is hard. But life so far has not been easy; you will have the chance to choose your hard. 

Do not be accommodating to your own detriment

You will realize this later in your 20’s. Especially as women, we are rewarded for being nice, when we must actually be kind; being kind is an active verb. To be kind to yourself is to push back on the forces that seek to cause you harm. To be kind to your community, is to do the same. 

Trust Your Gut 

In work, projects, friendships, relationships, your gut will tell you when a situation is or isn’t right for you. Additionally, freeing yourself when you’ve determined it’s not, is an act of self-respect and self-love. In any cases, this act may be painful, but you will learn that it will be a different pain than if you stayed. It will also be a pain you can be proud of. 

The right one will choose you, too

We worry and contort ourselves but the right partner, the right job, the right college, the right friends, the right board — the right one will choose you, too. They are going to choose you for all of you, for exactly who you are, with the full knowledge of everything you (and everything you are not). 

But the companion to this is clarification — clarifying exactly who you are and what you are about, so people have the information they need to make that determination. This will be scary because you risk losing people — and you will — but what is to come far outweighs the risk, and the situations that weren’t for you — you dodged a bullet. By clarifying, you open yourself to the opportunity to have a life full of people who know your fears, faults, messes and limitations and still choose you every single day. It will feel like golden daylight. 


The same rule applies with boys and clothes: If it’s not a ‘hell yes,’ it’s a ‘no.’

And finally, for now, when to quit

Broad culture tells you to persevere. To push through. To not quit when it gets hard. We celebrate overcomers, and righteously so. 

But we do not educate as well, about when to quit. Quit if you are being harmed in the process. Quit if you are being hurt. Quit if you are persevering to your own detriment. We reap what we sow, and that includes pain; if you do not quit soon after being harmed and strive to persevere through consistent hurt, you will have to spend years on the back end, unraveling that. It will either save you, or cost you, time later.

The future 

You are going to have everything  — a family that loves you, a community to do life with, friends who sign up for exactly you. You’re going to have dreams and passion and hope, and endless good things to work on because your community is endlessly worth it. You’re going to travel to places you don’t yet know exist, sit by several oceans’ seaside waves, feel your heartbeat sync with Wainwright drums, watch the skies for shattering stars. Just hold on. Your angels are coming. And above all, bet on yourself. Every single time.

I’m going to take care of you. I love you, so much. 

Your friend,

Cordelia at 30 

*Pictured: Technically Cordelia at 18. Cordelia at 15 isn’t digitized*