This is the second letter to my younger self in an effort to understand who I am now better and perhaps to help someone else do the same.
Hello, young Elaine. You have an exciting life ahead of you in school. You get your first taste of what it is like to live in the real world with lots of people and you get to learn all kinds of neat things.
This is a time for learning, for accomplishment, pride in your intelligence and your love of books. You will make good grades and even be asked to help some other students with their reading. Your confidence will soar during the first few years. Curiosity will propel you with a passion for learning.
As you get older your curiosity will almost cause what the proverbial curious cat experienced. You will almost kill yourself trying to find out what it meant to be hung. Since you grew up in the era of Cowboys on TV, when you are about 5 years old you will plan things so you could experience only the “feeling” of hanging.
But your exit strategy was flawed. In your ignorance about clotheslines, you neglected to plan for a stretched clothesline and couldn’t reach the swing with your foot to save yourself! For some unknown reason you had a concept of bad guys being hung with a rope around their neck but nothing beyond that!
Well, let’s just say you will survive thanks to little Sister. Never the less keep on being curious. Ask questions! (Especially before you act on something!!) But learn everything you can about anything you can. Later you will love Google and your smart phone!!
Your parents are also very smart and help enrich your learning as well as that of your siblings by always having books to read, magazines for kids, and stimulating trips to the zoo, the park, Asheville and Brevard, NC. You love for someone to read to you, especially stories about little animals and princesses and knights until you learn to read. By the second grade you will read like a fourth grader.
Because you are taught that being the oldest means being helpful and responsible for your younger siblings (later brother and second sister join the family), you take on the big sister role gladly when you are old enough to do so.
Soon you will learn that intelligence is not the only thing needed to “make it” in school. In 6th grade you will begin to compare yourself to the other girls. You have been the tallest kid in your classroom until that year. Unfortunately, you will also develop the prepubescent pudge that will stay with you for the rest of your life. (Well, maybe it is from the love of chocolate). Please don’t let the belief that you are fat drag you down. Yes, shopping for “chubby” girls’ clothes is a real downer!
But you will soon learn the lie that being beautiful, rich, athletic and smart are necessary to be liked by everyone. You will never be an athlete and will learn your place in the team line ups. Comparing yourself to everyone else will bring feelings of unworthiness. This of course affects your confidence because there will always be someone prettier, smarter, richer, better dressed than you. But remember everyone has someone better than them and someone worse than them. Just be yourself!! No one can be a better you than you!!
Elaine, your happy nature will help you through many hard times as you grow up. In school some kids will think you are an oddball, grade curve spoiler, suck up, or chubby kid who can’t play softball. One dorky boy himself will describe you as “A crow who sings like a nightingale.” Yes, those words will stick in your mind but they won’t hurt you; what does he know anyway! You can sing well and will sing a solo as a 12-year old in the Christmas Pageant in a huge church!
Elaine, other kids will see your love of life. They will be able to look back someday as adults, and think, “Wow, she was a really wonderful person with a loving heart.” Those who are smart enough will appreciate your sense of humor, intelligence, honor, and willingness to help others.
The drive to be the best at everything scholastic and be a very obedient child stem from your upbringing. Your parents will help you be safe and teach you rigorously about responsibility. These teachings will couple with your childlike misunderstanding of a verse in the Old Testament that says, “Be ye perfect, even as your Father who is in Heaven is perfect.” You will learn later that doesn’t mean you are supposed to be perfect!
Much later, you will let go of your fear of making mistakes and learn that everything works out alright in the end. The verse that says, “All things work together for good, to those who are the called according to His purpose,” will help you a lot.
Work on laughing at little goof ups. It will help you to save the worrying for bigger mistakes later; and help you realize that maybe at least some of the mistakes are not as bad as you think they are.
Almost all of your teachers later will comment on how conscientious you are. Also I hope you learn this soon: making a mistake does not make you a failure; does not mean you are bad; does not mean you are a disappointment; and definitely does not make you less lovable.
Moma will tell you and sister #1, about her life as a student nurse during the World War I. Her tales of nursing life will inspire you and your sister to follow her, your grandmother and cousin, who entered the same career. You will at an early age know that you want to be a nurse. Stay with that feeling!! It will give you a good life though it will be difficult on your body later.
Your sense of humor comes from your father and from your own love of laughter. That sense of humor is a wonderful resource when times get tough later. Daddy always said, “If you can laugh at yourself, you will always have something to laugh at.” You can’t laugh at your mistakes yet because you are too hard on yourself. But you will learn.
You will have everything you need to have and make a good life for yourself.