Dear 15-year-old Ashley,
This letter comes to you from someone who is now twice your age, and is seeing life through the eyes of your mother.
The biggest lesson I wish I could give you is the gift of perspective. I would love for you to be able to see what really matters from the things that don’t.
To you right now matters of passion are all that are important-achievements can give you a false sense of greatness, and failures can be utterly devastating. What will matter the most is the way you are being shaped as a person, not what is actually happening in the moment. No one will remember that you were the Teen Outstanding Dancer in or that you were the Runner-up (not the winner) Senior Outstanding Dancer.
What does matter is the way those achievements and failures are shaping you, and the relationships you are building as you go through them.
As an adult, dance will still be a factor in your career and it will be a foundation for how you raise your girls. You will cherish the life lesson that hard work and perseverance pay off and you will bend over backwards trying to make your girls see that too.
Enjoy the journey of getting what you’ve worked hard for; the actual moment is fleeting, but the process of getting there is where the glory lies.
I can’t tell you enough to stop and live in your moment, it is shaping your life and who you are as a parent. When your daughters are growing you will remember all the sacrifices you made and how worth it it was when you were recognized, and you will try your very best to have them feel that same kind of success.
It’s important through life to understand that delayed gratification feels sweeter than instant gratification. No matter how many times you hear that what is happening at 15 years old doesn’t matter, some of it does.
The character you are building for yourself matters, teaching yourself to fight through hard times matters, the relationships you are building matter. What doesn’t matter are the titles and trophies you are most focused on.
When you are twice your age you will have a beautiful family, full of love, and you will be watching your children grow and experience much of their lives the same as you did.
Telling you that now will not matter, you will still have struggles, you will feel lost, heartbroken and lonely, but you will grow from it and you will be better because you already know how to navigate those things, thanks to dance.
Stay present in your life and try your best to understand that the things that are so important to you will not be what will matter in the years to come.
The value in what you are doing lies in the lessons you are learning to develop who you are becoming. Cherish it.
All my love, your older self.