So, at the moment, Girlguiding UK is running an awareness campaign that basically involves thinking about what advice you would give your 10 year old self. This got me thinking. So, for what it’s worth, here’s mine…
Wow. It does feel strange to write that, but you were so very insistent that no one ever dared to shorten your name at ten, weren’t you? You probably can’t conceive of this, but in about 4 years time, you’ll be pretty damned insistent that it has to be Lizzi. You became a Christian around that time, and I think that’s what a lot of it was about – having a new name to symbolise a new you. Also, to be honest, you write so slowly that Elizabeth got to be a bit of a chore!
Maybe that’s my first piece of advice. See, you’re about to go through a pretty difficult few years. Things are going to happen to you that make you feel lost and alone and scared and sad, and you won’t know how to deal with it. But whether you’re Elizabeth or Lizzi, hang on to who you are. Those things will not and do not make you a bad person. Hang on to yourself.
If that sounds scary, here’s my second piece of advice. Hang on in there. Because there are going to be some pretty damned awful times – but I promise you that there are going to be some utterly wonderful times. You are going to get to go to places and do things that very few people get to do – and not only are you going to love it, but you’re going to make a difference in the world. Keep on in Guiding, by the way. I know you’re getting a bit bored of it at the moment, but in later years it’s going to change your life.
What else can I say? Hang on to your family, too. There are going to be times that stretch the bond between you to the limit. Times when you wonder what the hell is going on. But you know what? That little sister you fight with all the time? She’s going to be one of your best friends. That little brother you protect and look after and spoil – regardless of whether or not he wants it? He’s going to be a rock. The parents you struggle with? They’re going to give of themselves for you without ever mentioning the cost – not once, but again, and again, and again.
Keep reading too. Later on, you’re going to discover that you’re not as numerically challenged as you thought you were. You might even like science – and yes, I know that probably sounds unbelievable right now. But your first love is always going to be for languages, and reading will be the key to it. But you know what else? See if you can take your nose out of a book (or away from the sheet music, for that matter), just once or twice. Later on, you’re going to discover just how much you love the outdoors – see if you can take a step or two outside now.
Keep on at church. I know you find it boring and irrelevant now. I know you wonder whether you believe in any of it at all. But I want you to know that this isn’t a weakness, and you’re not being “bad”. Your questioning and your doubts and struggles will make your faith stronger eventually – so much so, that when the rough stuff happens, and you doubt you even want to be alive, you won’t be able to leave Jesus behind.
Hang on in there. The storm is coming. But you’re gonna come out of it – and those you’ll be so glad you did.