Dear Twelve-year-old Sarah,
Hi there, it’s Me. I know you’re probably in the middle of a really good book, but I want to give you a big hug and tell you something. It’s all going to be okay, I promise.
You know in Prince Caspian when the Pevensies are about to leave Narnia, two of them for the last time, there’s that great part where Lucy asks Peter why he’s not incredibly sad that he’s leaving Narnia. She doesn’t understand why he would seem to be so okay with leaving a world as wonderful as Narnia, required to live in the world of the grown-ups for the rest of his life. It all seems so odd and scary to Lucy, and she just doesn’t understand Peter’s lack of despair. But then Peter puts his hand on her shoulder in that great big brother way of his, and tells her his secret. He explains to her that yes, it is a little sad for him, but…but, it’s not quite the same as how he always imagined saying goodbye to Narnia would be. Then, in a way that is simply honest and not meant to be patronizing at all, he tells her “You’ll understand too when it’s your turn, Lu.”
And Sarah? I know how you are feeling right now. I know that you still play with your dolls every few weeks or so, and that you are re-devouring your favorite books from childhood like they’ll be taken from you tomorrow. Because that’s what you’re afraid of isn’t it? You’re afraid that growing up means changing and changing means forgetting.
And forgetting is the saddest thing you could ever imagine.
Well, you’re right about one part, but not about the other. Growing up does mean changing, and often in ways that you won’t see coming. It happens–you do grow up–and happy memories are mixed in with the occasional sad, and you will ask questions and find answers. There will come a time when you’ll barely recognize the person you have become, but you won’t ever really forget. You see, deep down, underneath your changing body (which unfortunately is not going to get much taller) and behind all the ideas you will become, your heart will still be the same. The loves you cherish during childhood will follow you into adulthood and will be the very things that make you feel most alive.
And another magical thing happens as you grow up: you become yourself in a way that seems almost impossible. The longer you spend with yourself, the more comfortable you are with who that person is. And this person does things you will never imagine happening but do anyway. And maybe it does seem overwhelming at the time, but it’s not quite the same as you think it will be. You won’t believe you can do it, but somehow you always do.
Sarah, darling. Don’t be afraid. You will grow and you will change, for such is the way of life. As you grow you will meet new people to love and be loved by, you will find dreams to realize and chase, and you will come to understand; namely, that there is so much you don’t understand. Such is the wonder of growing up.
And no, I can’t tell you the things I know you really want to know. (Spoilers, Sweetie.) But you and I both know that anticipation is half the fun. Take courage, Sarah. Everything will be okay in the end.
I’ll see you in a few years. After all, you are me.
Your Nineteen-year-old Self
PS: Give Anne of Green Gables a try again. You’re welcome.