Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Hello, 1995 Jo.

In June 2014, my parents and I were basement-cleaning, and we found an envelope that said:
October 1995
Psychology - Per. 4 - 1st Sem.
"What I Hope To Remember..."
<smiley face>
For 2015!
I excitedly posted it on Facebook and said I couldn't wait until October 2015 to see the contents, the results of an assignment from Mr. Dennis Whitaker's Psychology class my Junior year at BNL.

Well, here it is.  I opened the envelope on Sunday.  Inside were two letters: one from 16-year-old me to 36-year-old me and one from my 46-year-old Mom.  I'm posting about it today because Mom and I wrote our letters on October 6, 1995—exactly 20 years ago today.

The Contents of the Letter to Myself, Unedited.

JoAnna Kai Hackney
Period 4

What I Hope I Remember About Being A Teenager When I Am An Adult.

     I hope to remember that it is fun, but it also has down times.  Because I never have really fit in with people my age, I have 2 friends much younger, and the rest much older.  I have a good time with them, but lots of times I feel like everyone has their own friends their age & they have their family, and I feel left out.  I want to remember how much I love my family and friends.  I want to remember how I don’t have to be like everyone else my age.  I don’t conform the “right” way and do my own thing without being a rebel.  School is stressful, but my education is a priviledge.  I often get stressed with everyone saying their work is my priority.  I do what I love and I try to follow my dreams.  I want to remember all of my plays, especially “Annie,” “Of Mice and Men,” and “Nunsense.” (up to this point) I want to remember how I lost one of my best friends by talking behind his back. I want to remember my trips to Myrtle Beach and Hilton Head Island, and the thrill of getting my license.  I hope to remember my 16th Birthday with the surprise party and how hard Mom and Dad worked on it.  I want to remember how much I love Mom and Dad even though we sometimes fight.  I want to remember how much I love God and try to be a good Christian.  I want to remember how hard I work at everything I do.  I want to remember specific seasons and how songs, smells, pictures, & hair styles remind me of those times.
Bitsy, Dandee, & Kacey
     There’s much more I want to remember, too, that hasn’t even happened yet, like graduation, Junior Miss, College, Senior Pictures, etc… I just really want my kid(s) to know that they just need to be themselves (if not illegal), even if that’s not what “everyone else” is like.  Work hard, too, & trust in God. He will help you do your very best.  
     Oh! I forgot!  I also want to remember my dogs, Bitsy, Kacey, & Dandee!  They are all sweet and Dandee is one of the best friends I’ve ever had.

2015 Jo's Response

Hello, 1995 Jo.  

Senior Pics by Hudson's
What a gift your letter is to me.  You succeeded in reminding me about what it's like to be a teenager, but the cool thing is that I am in touch with "teenagerdom" daily because—get this—I'm teaching math. At BJH! (It's called BMS now.) School being stressful and feeling left out are obstacles with which I help young people every day.

You are going to find your place in this world.  You will have friends of all ages, from all walks of life, and with many different strengths and challenges.  You will reconcile with the friend you mentioned but will lose touch over the years. You are going to LOVE your job.  You will have some health problems, but you'll learn to live with them.  The health problems will help make you whom you are.  You are going to pick up some new hobbies, including distance running.  Yes, I'm serious.  You're going to love it.

Jr. Miss
Your family, as you mentioned, is still the most important thing.  Mom and Dad still show you they love you every second of every day, but you also will have a husband who will give you two stepsons.  You will have some new puppy friends, too.  By the way, Dandee will be VERY important as you navigate those health problems I mentioned.  She is, indeed, one of the best friends you will ever have.

Privilege doesn't have a "d" in it. 

Your statement that, "I want to remember specific seasons and how songs, smells, pictures, & hair styles remind me of those times," is one that struck me.  I still do that.

Finally, all the events you listed as things you are anticipating are indeed awesome, but there is A LOT more to experience.  Don't limit your view to just a few years down the road.  Every experience you have is one from which you can learn.  Don't miss those opportunities. 

2015 Jo

Mom's Letter to Me

In a serious moment, if you knew your daughter would listen to you, what would you like to tell them?

     I want her to know that everything she does has a consequence, good or bad, even though it may not be an immediate consequence.
     You must be a friend in order to have a friend.
     You must love in order to be loved.
     Happiness will never be found in material things.  We can accumulate lots of “stuff” & not be happy… we feel we need more “stuff.”
     People & passions will let you down, but God won’t ever let you down!
     A successful person is one who is content with himself & his life, & doesn’t worry about the world’s definition of success.
     I want her to be independent… to be able to take care of her own needs without depending on anyone else (But that doesn’t mean I want her to go through life without someone to help shoulder the load & share happy times.)
     I want her to turn to God 1st for everything… to ask His help decision-making… to comply with His will in all things.

2015 Jo's Response

BNL Graduation - May 30, 1997
Really, could there be more perfect advice?  Thanks, Mom.  I really did listen to you back then, but it obviously rings truer now.  The one that rings truest is, "A successful person is one who is content with himself & his life, & doesn’t worry about the world’s definition of success." What a great outlook and goal.


I'm wondering how many of Mr. Whitaker's students have kept, found, and read their letters over the years.  I hope that many others have been able to enjoy the experience.  It was fun to hear from 16-year-old me to see how much I've changed, and to hear from 46-year-old Mom to see how much she has stayed the same, in the sense of being a rock.  Thanks for sharing the experience with me!


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  2. I got to know you a little bit better. I know so little about you. Except for christmas and some birthdays we don't get together.