Dear 14-year-old self,
Hey you. It’s me. You’re 38 year old self.
Don’t worry. You turned out fine. You are one of the most educated of the Witteveen grandchildren, oddly enough. You made it through high school and four years of college.
Surprisingly, you found your way out of your shyness in a couple years. I hope that you do it sooner.
No more asking your mother to order for you.
Sorry, you still have a temper. And to this day, there are triggers that you continue to set it off.
But you found an amazing wife, and you are living your dream as a photographer and film maker. It might not be exactly what you envisioned, but doing what you love as a career is nothing short of a dream.
This is going to seem foreign, but your views on religion will change drastically. The fanatic you are as a proselytizing believer, an award-winning Christian will eventually remove themselves thanks to plain old listening to your internal voice.
You will tell people it’s through tons of research. And while research may have given your doubts legs, listening to the doubts you’ve carried since you were young enough to memorize verses in Sunday School will take better hold.
Bear hug these doubts and don’t let familial or societal pressures — which are intense — to force you to lie to yourself or others that you are somehow dabbling in religion or trying to find the crossover between religion and non. It’s a losing battle.
And don’t hate your upbringing no matter what. Your parents did the best they could, and even better. They gave you disciplines and taught you critical thinking skills that led to your departure from religion. You fully realize that you can’t both think critically and hold onto faith-based ideas for too long.
The discipline that you gain will feed your ability to take risks, go on your own, open your own business.
One thing you should do is find more smart people to share your views with. Find a therapist if possible and start working with them to understand yourself better, faster.
Do couples counseling with serious girlfriends.
Don’t attempt to keep long-distance relationships. With some amounts of freedom, explore your sexuality and don’t be so wound up and scared about it. As it were, you waited too long for sex and too long to find better ways to overcome all that shit they taught you in 7th and 8th grade about STDs and hellfire scooping you up if you had sex before marriage.
And finally, travel your ass off. And when you do, soak it up. Throw some caution to the wind and enjoy it. When you study in France for a semester, get your underpants out of your ass. Have wine with dinner. Meet the others out for drinks. And don’t wait for your house mother to kick you out of the house for being a bump on a log.
And finally, practice patience. But be stern. Be strong. It takes a Type A personality to be bullish in business. But take more risks and do more research and take more classes.
Perpetually learn. And don’t let ideas of Jesus and family prevent you from exploring the art you want to explore.
The rest is up to you. I can’t hold your hand through all this. So get out there and grow up, while staying youthful and energetic. You’re strong now, but the body needs maintenance, so keep working out, too.
That’s it. That’s all I’ve got.
Hugs and kisses,
Your 38 year old self.