A letter to my 18 year old self.

Dear 18 Year Old Me,

I know you’re super excited right now. You’re about to graduate high school and move to Florida to be with Jared. It’s what you’ve always wanted and nothing anyone says is going to keep you from going. Not your mother, not his mother, no one. And that’s how it should be. He is the best decision you’ve ever made and he will be your rock and foundation for the many years to come. However, don’t push him to get married right away. It will happen and you’re only going to cause strife between the two of you if you keep pushing for it. It will happen in due time.

As for school, I know you’re enjoying it. Well, maybe not the weight lifting class. Just focus on your work and you’ll do fine. You’ll be so glad to be out of that school and away from those other kids who didn’t understand you. But take this little bit of advice: If they engage you in conversation or ask you to join them at lunch, don’t turn them down. They won’t ask a second time when it’s more convenient. I know you don’t like a lot of people and that won’t change, but drink up all the diversity you can.

Now, we’re going to get to something a little heavier. Writing. Don’t stop it. Things will happen to make you want to quit. I know, it seems impossible for you to ever want to stop writing, but your desire to please God is going to distort your thinking for a time and it will make you stop. Writing makes you happy. God wants you to be happy. God wants you to write. I don’t care if your computer crashes and you lose everything. I don’t care if someone says your writing sucks. It doesn’t suck and you’re going to be published one day. If you stop now, you’re going to set back your success by 3 years and cost yourself a lot of happiness. Keep writing.

As for college, don’t stress. And don’t go to Full Sail. It’s too expensive and credits will not transfer easily. Instead, get your AA at the community college and transfer to a Florida university that has English for a Bachelors. An English degree will help you much more than a writing degree from Full Sail. Not to say that Full Sail isn’t a great school. It is, and you could learn a lot from there. But you’re going to run out of money real quick and will have to drop out before you graduate. Take the cheaper route (by at least half!).

As for work, I’ll let you find out the awesome job you’ll find in Florida. It may not seem all it’s cracked up to be at first, but it will open doors to positions that make you the happiest. You’ll be an important player at your work and they will respect you. It will be much different than Subway, that’s for sure.

Spend time with your grandfather when you move down there. Go visit him at least once a month. You won’t have much more time with him and you don’t want the regret that you should have spent more time with him.

You’re parents are right. I’m not giving you a specific example because you don’t need one. They’re always right, no matter how much you don’t believe so. In just 5 years, they have proven themselves right time and time again. Listen to them.

And quit nagging Jared about getting a dog. You will get one eventually and she will be a blessing. And when you get the second dog, she may not be so much of a blessing, but you will love them both and they will come at the perfect time.

You will have a lot of ups and downs. You will make friends and lose friends. You will meet people that are in your life for a season to serve a purpose and teach you a lesson, and as much as you want them to stay, they can’t. And that’s not your fault. People love you and like to be around you. Just don’t stop caring about others and being generous. It may stress you out, but it’s worth it to be so valuable to others. Just know your limits.

I’ll say it again because I can’t stress it enough: Keep Writing! Don’t stop! Not for anyone! You will thank me later.

Sincerely and with best wishes for the future,
23 year old you
(Yes, you survived that far)

About Sheritta Bitikofer

Sheritta Bitikofer is an author of eclectic tastes. When she's not writing her next historical fiction or urban fantasy novel, she can be found volunteering at her local animal shelter, shooting archery at a medieval reenactment event, trekking across a battlefield, watching a historical documentary, or having coffee with her husband at their favorite café. A wife and fur-mama to two rescue dogs, she makes time to write engaging and moving stories about shifters, vampires, and magic that enthrall readers from cover to cover.
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