Dear Thirteen-Year-Old Carleen,

There’s a lot you do not know. But here are few things I want you to understand now.

You’re just starting high school, a huge transition, and you want to be popular. Instead, try not to be so interested in what boys think about you, and don’t put so much effort into caring whether or not people like you. Worry instead about being liked for who you are, not just for your looks. Right now, it will always be more comfortable to be someone you think others want you to be but never lose sight of who you are and what you stand for. This will be tough, but I know you can do it.

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The most important things in life, the things you will actually remember, are the little things. All those nights Dad stayed out late playing softball with you. All those weekends he traveled to your games. They seem like nothing now; you even get a little irritated with him sometimes.

One day, walking out to practice with him playing catcher you’ll tell him you don’t want to practice today. And he’ll say to you, “The days that you don’t want to do it are the days you will get the most of it.”  Years later, when he is gone, and you’ve become a competitive athlete in an entirely different sport, you’ll hear him in your head every time you think about cherry picking a workout or not giving 100% effort. So enjoy all those seemingly small things, irritated with him or not, because that time with him will go by so quickly. Before you realize it, you’ll be fighting to get that time back.

The most important things in life, the things you will actually remember, are the little things. All those nights Dad stayed out late playing softball with you. All those weekends he traveled to your games. They seem like nothing now; you even get a little irritated with him sometimes.

Every choice and decision, wrong or right that you make is what molds you into the woman you will become. You will never have all the answers, but working to get them will take you exactly where you need to be.

At the end of this year, you’ll get into an argument with your basketball coach. You’ll leave the team, and you’ll come home and tell everyone your athletic dreams are over. Discouraged, you’ll decide just to go ahead and quit softball too, but Mom will tell you no. She’ll say you have to finish the year out with softball. Listen to her because this will be the best thing that ever happens to you. If she had let you quit softball, we never would have gone on to play at the collegiate level, and you would never have found the sport that changes your life.

Every choice and decision, wrong or right that you make is what molds you into the woman you will become. You will never have all the answers, but working to get them will take you exactly where you need to be.

The world out there is harsh. Managing school and life is not easy but always believe in yourself. Know that you are going to have to fight and claw for everything you have. No one will do it for you, and it won’t always be easy, but I promise it will be worth it.

You will find yourself lost at times, but do not worry. Even getting lost is just part of the path to discovering who you are and becoming the woman you were meant to be. Trust that change cannot happen until you have been tried and risen to the challenge, and after that, you will see success. Most important though, is that you’re going to be just fine. Everything that happens, even if you think you’ve messed it all up, happens for a reason. All of these things add up to you.

Love,

Carleen


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