I’m a big fan of Timehop. Since photography is one of my favorite pastimes, I enjoy walking down memory lane. Yesterday an album came up from 9 years ago, the year I turned 16.
A lot of life has happened since I was 16. I have lived a blessed life, not without difficult circumstances and loss, but blessed all the same. Still, life is unpredictable, mean girls exist, disappointments and joys and big decisions come in waves, and change happens frequently.
If I could talk to 16 year old Chelsea about a few things, they would be these:
Embrace the curls.
I know straightening your hair seems fun and easy, but deep down you only do it because you think you’re prettier that way. Rock your curls, sister! You are uniquely you, and those curls will become a true part of you one day.
Be okay with not being everyone’s best friend.
It seems wonderful, but it ends up being pretty exhausting. Find that handful of sweet, God-loving, weird, lasting girlfriends, and stick close. God is not expecting you to be all things for all people. Love well and be a safe place for those you encounter. And trust God to be what everyone needs, not you. Nonbiological sisters of mine, you know who you are… and I’m immensely grateful for you.
Being a perfectionist is a not a negative, but being a people-pleaser is.
Girl, you spend too much emotional and mental energy living without boundaries. Beware of falling into a snare of fearing man instead of the Lord, of walking around anxious because you might disappoint someone, or not look great in their eyes. Jesus is the person you focus on making great; you cheer and support others in their gifts. You are not defined by the opinions of others, how others react to you, your successes or failures, or even your feelings. Find your specific passions, give God all the glory, and pursue them with that perfectionist DNA.
Live from your identity in Christ, not from your image.
Tie your confidence and anchor your identity to an unchanging, undeniably good, powerful, beautiful, and living God. Your image, your physical appearance, your features — all called good by the most important person in the world. Your image will change, it will fade, but your identity in God can take you to new heights of love and abundant life. Your heart, mind, and soul make you special, new in Christ they make you strong and beautiful — not how much you exercise or how fashionable you are or how your makeup is done. It’s too easy to get caught in that trap, so girlfriend, run the other way and run hard.
Keep wearing those Converses instead of heels.
A time for heels will come, and you will grow to enjoy it, but embrace that well-worn blue jeans and Chucks look you have going. Wear those brightly colored tights and braids and your favorite jeans 4 days out of the week. Life is too short to stifle the way you express yourself for the sake of cool or popular. Styles change too often to keep up with it all. Find a style that fits you, that you feel pretty in, and rock it.
Mean girls will always exist. Remember who you are and Whose you are; rise above.
I would love to hold your shoulders, look you in the eye and say, that girl is insecure, that’s why she’s treating you this way. She is unhappy, and is taking it out on you. It has nothing to do with you. Do your best to be kind, so she never has any ammo against you, and ignore. Keep in mind the people who love you, who support and believe in you, and keep doing your thing. She will eventually see that you are not to be trifled with, and she’ll move on.
A relationship with God will be the greatest adventure of your life.
I feel like I’m experiencing this in new ways all the time, but the delight in knowing God will change your life. He is the coolest adventure, greatest treasure, highest joy, best friend, sweetest love. You seek him, you are active at church, you read your Bible, and I get teary-eyed to think of the grace in those choices. He is with you, in the seemingly mundane, and in the difficult times. Keep living for God, keep shining bright, keep loving people well. The lines will fall in pleasant places, and it only gets better.
There are many many other things, now being 24, but you enjoy your life, girl. Soak it all up, savor it. Because it’s good.