by Haley Geiger
First off, let’s get the basics out of the way. Lesson number one: life’s not fair, and the sooner you realize that the happier you’ll be. Lesson two: you will need to work hard for what you want, but everything you want is within your reach. Now, I know you probably just rolled your eyes reading that, seeing as you’ve heard it enough from Grandpa and Mom to last you a lifetime, but it’s true! From the stage to the classroom and even into your professional life, these two lessons will always be a part of everything you do. They might be hard pills to swallow, but keeping these two adages in your back pocket can make sometimes in your life a lot easier to handle. You’ll learn soon enough that life’s a tricky thing to understand and even trickier to take control of, but that’s all part of growing up. Growing up is intimidating, something that will hit you like a freight train in your later high school years, but coming to terms with your life and your future doesn’t have to be inherently terrifying. In fact, life can be pretty fun! Fun aside, however, you shouldn’t let the good times distract you from the lessons you learn along your way to becoming an adult. I have faith in the person you’ll become, but hopefully you’ll pick up some important points from my letter to you so you don’t have to learn it the hard way.
Not to contradict myself, but I can tell you from firsthand experience that life isn’t always fun. There will be plenty of times that you will feel as if your life is worthless. You will feel like no one cares about you, like you’re going nowhere, like you just can’t fit in no matter how hard you try, and that you will never be good enough for anything you do. You will hate yourself, and that self-hatred is a heartbreaking feeling that just eats away at your insides and makes you doubt that your life is any good at all. Now, while toughing it through the lower points of your life is by no means a cakewalk, it’s important to always remember that it will pass. Deuteronomy 31:6 says “Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the Lord your god does with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.” I want you to always keep this verse in your heart and remember that no matter what is making you crumble and break, you will always be strong enough to overcome it and God will help you through your troubles.
As you get into your later years of middle school, you will realize that theatre has gone from a fun hobby do to your entire life. Once you realize that, do whatever you can to stay active! It will change you from a terrified little girl who can’t raise her hand in class without her heart beating out of her chest to a girl who can sing in front of 2000+ people and not bat an eyelash (no, seriously.) It will change you in every way a person can change. You will not only become a better singer, actress, and public speaker, but you will become stronger than you ever thought. You will gain an appreciation for life and fate you never would have dreamed of. It will turn you into the best version of yourself that you can be and give you friends that act more like a second family. Most importantly, for once in your life, you feel as if you have worth and potential. There will be times where all will seem lost, and the only thing that will keep you going will be the freedom and responsibility that theatre brings. You’ve found your one true passion in life, and I want you to cling to that passion no matter what life throws at you!
One last thing, when Mom and your sister are pushing you to do Distinguished Young Women, DO IT. I know you’ll really want to do the spring musicals that are the same time as the State competition and taking bows seems more tempting than interview (and, knowing you, you will always want to do the exact opposite of what people want you to do,) but you won’t regret it for a moment. You’ll probably laugh while reading this, but you will win the title of Distinguished Young Woman of West Virginia for 2017, something you NEVER thought possible for someone like you. It proves to be a blessing in every way possible, and it will take everything you experienced through theatre and increase the lessons tenfold. You will meet 50 of the most incredible and inspiring girls you could ever hope to meet, spend two weeks in the beautiful city of Mobile, Alabama, and live pretty much all your wildest dreams. There will be plenty of times where you will think to yourself “This can’t be real, this is too good to be true.” But I’m here to tell you that all the amazing things you will experience are 100% true. Like I told you before, there will be many times where you think yourself to be worthless and an irredeemable failure, but if nothing else, hold on for the promise of this amazing opportunity. It will change your entire outlook on life, and you will come out of this experience feeling overwhelmingly happy and with so much hope and excitement for your future. I’ll leave the details for you to discover yourself, but it truly is a blessing that you’ll never quite get over.
I know none of what I’ve told you seems possible, but for the time being just kick back and let God lead you towards the path you are meant to take. I am so proud of the person you’ve become, and I hope you realize just how much potential you have to turn your life into something truly great. Be grateful for the life you have and everything that happens to you, embrace the qualities that make you unique, and understand that everything will always work out for the best no matter what. Finally, if there’s only one thing you take away from this (I know how your attention span is) just remember this: “Life is tough, my darling, but so are you.”
Lots of Love,
Your Eighteen-Year-Old Self
(p.s.: Don’t stress too much at your Cinderella audition in 2015. I know you want that role more than anything in the world and it seems practically impossible to get your dream role, but just remember that impossible things are happening every day!)