A Letter To My Ten Year Old Self

Dear Nathan,

I apologize that it has been so long since I wrote you last, but I imagine that the last few years for you have been quite busy. I hope you appreciated the letter I sent you last and that this one will find you in good health and in good spirits. I trust that you heeded my advice in my previous message and have learned to control your energy somewhat, and maintained your friendliness in the face of life’s difficulties. I hope that you have found some good friends over the past few years. I would like to give you some advice concerning these friends, and I hope it does not bother you at all. In particular, I want you to remember to appreciate the kindness shown to you in the past from your friend Nikki. For reasons I do not understand, she was kind to you last year in the midst of that disastrous political campaign in elementary school when no one else was. She will continue to be kind and supportive of you in the years to come while you attend junior high school, and it would be gentlemanly of you to appreciate this kindness and to show her appreciation for it. I know that you had to play against her in the consolation match of the chess tournament you had recently, but I also know that you took no pleasure or gloating in playing such a close friend, and so you do not need to fear that she took it too hard. Kindness in this world is often rare, and therefore it is something that you should show gratitude for, especially considering its rarity. If you were able to keep in touch with her throughout the years, it would also be good. You have a tendency to go a long time between communications with others, and it can be a bad thing for you sometimes when people take it personally rather than as a sign of your absent-mindedness. Believe me, it is a quality I understand very well.

I know that times have been difficult for you these past few years, and I wish I could tell you that they would get easier, but aside from the fact that you no longer have any classes in handwriting, which I know you will be happy to hear, life is not going to get easier for a while, but you are strong enough to deal with it and to succeed, so the news is not all bad. I would particularly like to draw attention to a problem you have faced and will continue to face, as it requires attention even if it is a difficult problem to solve. Do not feel ashamed over the difficulty you have had with the mean girls in school. I do not know why those girls wished to torment you so much. Quite honestly, the torment you receive from girls is something that you could not possibly be evil enough to deserve, and it is something I still do not understand. Even so, it requires a great deal of attention, because it is of the utmost importance that you do not punish all girls for the behavior of the mean girls you have met and that you will continue to meet. Make no mistake, you will continue to meet them, which is why you must show obvious appreciation when you find the nice girls in life, and there are a few of them at least that you will find throughout the years. It is distressing that girls will find a great deal of enjoyment in teasing and tormenting you. I wish I could tell you it was going to end, but it will go on for at least another quarter century, as hard as that seems to be to understand for you now. You just have to remain a polite gentleman, and spend your time with people who are kind and who enjoy your company, rather than trouble yourself with those who are mean and unfriendly.

Besides giving you plenty of advice and bad news, I wished to give you a congratulations as well. I know my letters may seem a bit heavy, and to be honest I am probably not the most lighthearted person around, but you are as worthy of praise and appreciation as the people who are kind to you. I know that it was tough when no one in your family came to your graduation from elementary school. I know that you accept that since the ceremony took place during the school day that people were busy, but I also know that it was disappointing to see so many of your classmates enjoy the praise and cheering of their family members when you did not have it for yourself. I do not know what I can say that would make you feel better right now, but I do know that your family will grow to love your frequent graduations, because you have a lot of them in your future. I don’t want to spoil all of the surprise, but members of your family will fly across the country to see you graduate from high school, three college graduations, and a graduation from a religious seminary. I know that you think you will be going to Ambassador College but that is not going to work out. By the time you finish high school that college will no longer exist, but you will be able to make other plans, and because you work so hard at school there will be no shortage of places that will want you as a student. I know you find it hard to believe that you will be so wanted, and admittedly it will be a somewhat rare experience, but treasure it. I will have more to say about that later, I just want you to realize that even now you will find yourself already being noticed by colleges, and that you should view this as recognition of your hard work and feel a sense of accomplishment in it. It is hard for you to feel genuinely happy about accomplishments, and I wish I could do more to encourage you to enjoy the moment. Life is hard enough as it is; there is no need to make it more hard by not enjoying the good side of life well enough, and reveling in the good moments, and in praising God for having provided such good times to you.

Perhaps by now you have figured out the times I have chosen to send you letters. Most of the time you are busy with mundane affairs, like doing your homework assignments reviewing your family history. As a digression, I hope you enjoyed getting to know Great-grampa Chauncey before he died. I know he was a strange man—he smoked Cuban cigars and was a racist old man, but aside from his bad smoking habit and his hostility towards other groups he was a good man and he cared a great deal about his family. I hope you know that he enjoyed listening to you, and many other people you will meet in the future will also enjoy the fact that you are not only an extremely talkative person most of the time, but that you are also quick to listen to others as well. Keep that habit up; it’s a good one. At any rate, I wanted to let you know, if you have not figured it out already, that I am writing you these letters at transition points in life, when you are moving from one familiar place to a different level. When I first wrote you, you were five years old and heading into elementary school, which was a shock because before then you had only been at home, and never went to preschool. Now you are about to enter into junior high school, and move further away from the little neighborhood you enjoy biking around. As you grow older you will move further and further away from where you have grown up, and though I know that you tend to be rather timid and anxious and do not enjoy change, you will become stronger for having faced it. Consider these letters an invitation to have hope that the future holds something good in store for you despite all the discomfort and anxiety about the way that life speeds up and moves you far from what you know. You have a lot of leaving and growing and moving to do yet, but that is a subject for another letter.

Although I know that writing is difficult for you by hand, I think it would be good for you to encourage your family to work on getting some kind of personal computer, maybe with a printer. I think this would be good for a variety of reasons. For one, you will learn how to type far faster and far better than you write by hand, to the point where in a few years there are teachers of yours who will not accept handwritten work from you at all. It would be good to learn how to type as soon as possible, so as to enjoy the experience and become proficient as soon as you can. I also think it would be a good idea because you will need to find a release for what is on your mind, and the sooner you can write a lot of what you think and what you feel, the better you will feel about it. Maybe you will type some poetry, maybe some plays, and maybe even the first draft on that memoir you want to write about yourself. You’ll get around to it one of these days, but it will not look the way you conceive of it now. You have a lot reading left to do, and sometimes your reading will help you with your writing as well. I am thankful for the books you have read so far—some of them are still in my library and still books I appreciate [1]. I would like to encourage you to avoid judging books by their cover, as there are some books with pink covers that you will initially turn your nose at that you will grow to enjoy. Please, though, do not box your brother in the ears. It’s not a nice thing to do, and you should be kind to your brother even if he gets on your nerves. He really does love you, somewhere in his heart, even though he doesn’t always show it in a good way. I wish I could tell you that your family members learn how to show their love for you in a way that you will be able to recognize it, but you’re always going to be a little puzzled by your family, and they’re always going to be puzzled by you too. It’s neither your fault or theirs; it simply is the way it is.

If you have made it this far, you are a very patient reader, and I thank you for listening to my words, even if they may strike you as a little strange. Perhaps you wish you could talk to me and better understand what I have said, but unfortunately this sort of letter only works one way. I write you from the future, remembering the past, and you will eventually become me. I hope you’re not too disappointed by what you find. I mentioned earlier that I wished for you to write as a way of dealing with what is inside of you. I would like to close this letter by also reminding you that there is more to life than puzzling over the ways of girls, or reading books or writing, although these are ways you will spend a lot of time for many years to come. I encourage you in your music, whether singing or playing the viola (which you will, very soon, even if you’ve never heard of it yet). I also encourage you to be more athletic. I know you have some injuries and don’t run as fast as you used to, but volleyball is a fun sport and will bring you a great deal of joy in years to come. Remember, even if life is often tough, you have good friends and you’re a very resourceful person. Make life the best it can be, and never forget to have fun a little bit. I will write you in a few years, and I hope you appreciate these words in the months and years to come.

Your friend,

Nathan Bennett Albright

[1] See, for example:

https://edgeinducedcohesion.wordpress.com/2014/09/19/ten-books-that-have-shaped-my-life/

https://edgeinducedcohesion.wordpress.com/2013/04/27/the-miseducation-of-nathan-albright/

https://edgeinducedcohesion.wordpress.com/2011/01/24/a-little-princess-revisited/

https://edgeinducedcohesion.wordpress.com/2016/02/19/the-surprisingly-dark-worldview-of-the-princess-in-black-series-a-case-study-in-childrens-literature/

https://edgeinducedcohesion.wordpress.com/2016/02/18/book-reviews-the-princess-in-black-the-princess-in-black-and-the-perfect-princess-party-and-the-princess-in-black-and-the-hungry-bunny-horde/

https://edgeinducedcohesion.wordpress.com/2014/07/01/book-review-the-princess-within-for-teens/

https://edgeinducedcohesion.wordpress.com/2011/11/23/book-review-little-lord-fauntleroy/

About nathanalbright

I'm a person with diverse interests who loves to read. If you want to know something about me, just ask.
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