The other day I asked my students to write about the future-- if they found it scary, or unsure, or if they were excited about it. I remember sitting in their shoes and thinking about my own future. There were endless possibilities and yet it was a very scary, very daunting unknown.

One of them wrote about prom, as that is an immediate future they have to think about, and worry about, in their teenage saga. Others wrote about a ball game coming up next week, while others were very reflective and honest in their responses. One girl eloquently put, "Words cannot truly express what a gift and a burden the future is. A fog hides what is beyond today, and hides its knowledge until we find it."

Another wrote about a very specific, planned out future she has for herself, which includes becoming an English teacher [sigh, this always does my heart happy]. But then wrote, "Sometimes the future scares me because I have all these plans and I know there's a possibility that they won't work out. I know the future I want, and I don't want to think about that not happening. The unknown can be a scary thing because there's no way to anticipate or plan for it.... But nothing will stop me from going after the future that I want."

Another student honestly wrote, "I feel like I have procrastinated because I have no idea what I want to do in the future...there are so many choices and places I could make my dreams come true, but where?"

I remember having so many of these thoughts myself. If I could go back and tell myself a few things I think this would be part of what I would say:

Dear little Kelsey,

Someday you will be 25, almost 26, and you will be married to a wonderful man and have a sweet little daughter on the way.

Don't waste your time worrying about what guys think of you, or don't think of you. And especially don't worry about why no one asks you out on dates. Brent is worth not dating anyone else, so just hang in there, and be patient.

Even though math homework takes you forever, don't worry, you'll be fine in college and your career with what you do know how to do.

When people tell you that teaching isn't a good choice in career because the kids will drive you crazy, ignore them. When they tell you that it will be impossible to teach the next generation of children, ignore them. You will become a teacher and you will love the kids in ways you never thought possible and you will be creative and find new ways to reach out to that next generation. But you'll care more about the kid's hearts than what you teach them.

Those friends of yours that talk behind your back? Don't let them hurt your feelings. They are just trying to figure out how to love themselves by putting down others. Stay confident, and love yourself by forgiving them.

Be nice to the kids who are different. Dance with all the boys that ask you to dance because you'll regret possibly having hurt their feelings by turning them down.

When you go to college, get to know as many people as you can. You'll think you made the wrong choice to leave Brent, but you'll soon learn that God has it all under control. College will be a land filled with opportunities if you're willing to take them. Don't be afraid to try something different, or learn something new...now is the time.

Someday you'll have to make the decision to move far away from everything you've ever known. Do it with an open heart. Take risks while you're in the new city. Get to know as many people as you can. Do things you think you're afraid to do. You will grow up so much during this time and regret not taking full advantage of all it has to offer.

And someday, you'll get to come back "home" too. It will be tough at first, and you'll struggle with the transition and fitting back into to places you've outgrown, but dive in head first to the opportunities that await you there, and the relationships that have already been established.

Hold onto your friendships. You have good people in your life who love you well. Don't get so busy in your own stuff you forget to invest in people.

Smile. Be confident. Love others.

Little Kels, don't let people try to change you, or tell you what to do-- God made you and knows His plan for you. Cling to that hope. You have a creative spirit, and you're good with people...hold onto that, because the world needs creativity and compassion.

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