Dear 16 Year Old Lauren,
We should just get this out of the way first. It’s going to be hard to believe, but we are 22 years old now and no longer play basketball. Not even a shoot around at the park. I know. We’ve spent our entire life thinking basketball was the world. It still hurts me to say this years later, but some of those people who told you otherwise were right. You’ll play for about 3 more years before putting it aside to get serious about your academics. Not that you weren’t serious before, but it’ll become time to unleash your full efforts upon your studies. This decision will crush you, since you really started to come into your prime skills solely from playing pick up games with the boys at the park. Competitive leagues are slim in your area. Luckily, spending your entire life on teams and running drills has instilled a finely tuned self discipline. I would like to advise you to remember you have friends who like you and not to have a strong case of tunnel vision when it comes to your classes. Your identity has always been a driven player who gets the job done at crunch time, but please, please, please, look to relax.
Right now you haven’t even graduated high school, but will soon be told you cannot get into a 4 year university because of your math grades. I want you to know, your guidance counselor is lying to you. You’ll quit the high school basketball team citing all losses but one in 3 years and take to the park courts. This will be a source of shame for some time, but it is the right decision. You will enroll in Daytona State College, hoping to sop up the mess of math grades you believe you made for yourself, feeling low despite your soaring achievements in English. Taking classes at Daytona State will do us financial favors later, but please know you can jump right into the major college experience without worrying. After 2 years of battling between English and Psychology, you will realize the written word is your calling. So many nights agonizing over stories fiction and nonfiction should not be wasted.
The best decision you will ever make thus far is to transfer to Flagler College. At first, it looks like the thing all those snobby rich kids do to gain the private college status. In all honesty, Flagler is where you belong. You may not be one with the over privileged kids, but you will find your English department is a close-knit people who see eye to eye. All of the professors have more to offer than just talking at you for extended periods of time. For the first time in a long time, you will realize these professors care. By graduation, you will realize they even believe you. Graduating Cum Laude and being awarded the departmental award for academic achievement will finally give you the validation you were looking for.
Everything seems to be working out, but I won’t lie to you, we have just graduated in 2012 and are still terrified on some levels. Jobs are not easy to find. You will have to defend your field of study publicly to people who tell you there isn’t any other option but to teach. These people do not know you, and they are mostly not trying to offend you. You will be navigating a sea of family health issues in the meantime. Try not to get so mad at mom and dad for focusing on themselves for once. You will gain friends and create a corner of the internet that will support you if you only so much as raise your hand.
Once you have been absent from the world of athleticism for a while, you’ll notice your body losing the tone and fitness you worked so hard to achieve. Right now, we are upset with ourselves for detoriating into a 105 pound weakling who has to ask for help with heavy things. In 2012, I regret not keeping a certain level of basketball or any athletics at all in my life. After satiating yourself with the intellectual crowd, you won’t have many friends left who care to even watch the NBA on TV with you. Don’t let that part of yourself go. Keep sharpening your fiction claws but use your passion for sports to keep motivated.
I wish I could give you a definitive “Where We Are” letter. Truth is, I have been putting together my resume this past week. I am very tired and can’t sleep properly without a class schedule to keep me in check. This letter is the first thing I have written since graduation almost 3 weeks ago. We have accomplished a lot. We have focused, created, and in some cases destroyed parts of ourselves that held us back from really delving into the space of our mind known as “the zone.” I can’t even remember what it felt like to run full court sprints. Instead, my thoughts feel like they are running a mile a minute every day. I admire you, 16 year old Lauren, for knowing how to find the next move when everyone is entangled in front of you. Somehow, I remember taking a chance on an unlikely shot but knowing the result would be worth it. Bring your ability to see the open court with you into the world we are about to embark.
You will get the U2 lyric “Vision Over Visibility” tattooed on your ankle. You will tell people it’s the ability to see an idea succeed before you set it in motion. A familiar feeling when you feel the ball leave your hand at just the right angle. Now, when creating worlds from words and dedicating yourself to finding truth within your own fiction or prose, it’s more true than ever before.
Lauren Mack: Co-founder of The Well Written Woman is an aspiring writer, blogger, and overall enthusiast of brainstorms. She is a graduate of Flagler College with a BA in English Literature and has no intentions to teach. Lauren spends a lot of time reading novels and hoping she can one day finish her own. She often wonders how they made blue cheese so delicious. Really, she is just imposing her elitist attitude on everyone. You can find her pennings at her blog and follow her on Twitter.