Dear 16-year-old Kate,
I know it’s been a while since we talked last but I wish I could tell you this at 16 and TRULY have you understand it.
You need to be transparent.
I tell you this because at 16 you’re completely closed off. You don’t hug people, you don’t share much about what’s happening in your life and no one has any idea what is happening and how you’re actually feeling. You’re an extrovert and you long for a deeper connection with everyone but you don’t know it yet. When you’re 32 you’ll post this picture on Instagram:
It’s you, crying after a surgery that will prevent you and your husband from having any more kids. You cried ALL day. Even the guy at Hardees told you “I hope your day gets better”, when you bolted on your healthy eating habits and picked up a cheeseburger and shake. And for better or worse, you wanted to record what that day was like because that’s what you do for a living. You document life. This hit you hard. At first you were happy with 3 kids and thought you were done. It was not a decision that came lightly. And then you and your husband wanted TLC to have a sibling close in age and after a pregnancy scare you realized how much you wanted another child. What you didn’t want was your world to stop. HG will hit you hard with both of your pregnancies and you know that you can’t do it again. Your main goal was to try and stay hydrated so you can stay out of the hospital. And you’ll decide to be transparent with talking about it and tell clients that you have to refer them to someone else because you can’t work. Some of them will say that you don’t care about their child’s session or that you’re whining (yep, truth, they will say this) but they have no idea what it’s like to not be able to move. But with that transparency comes great stories. Friends who see that you’re struggling and bring meals to your family. Friends who take your children overnight so you can hug the toilet in peace and not worry about terrifying them with how sick you are for one night. They are amazing and if you try to hide it you won’t receive the support you need. And then, a few years later when you post this picture, people will email and message you from all over the country and tell you THEIR stories. They’ll sympathize with you. Encourage you. Pray for you. People you’ve never even met will tell you things they’ve never told anyone else and THAT is connection. The same thing happened years ago when you shared marriage struggles, PPD struggles and everything else that you questioned if you should put out there. People will come to you asking to help and sharing their stories. It will fill you up and make you realize that, even though there are folks who don’t agree with your no-filter life, there is so much joy to be found in TRULY knowing what is in someone else’s heart. Being transparent means you share the good AND bad. Showing your flaws will make you become a better CrossFit coach. A better wife. A better parent.
So here’s my point, you closed-off little vagabond. There will always be people who think being open is a flaw (you are one of them at 16) but in your future it will be your world. You will thrive on how you can connect with others. Just wait, stubborn one, you will open your heart and it will be marvelous.