childhood

#DearMe: A Letter to My Teenage Self.

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Dear (Slightly Younger) Mikayla,

When I first saw the idea of writing a letter to you, I found it a bit weird. I mean, I know you and you’re too hard-headed to listen to anyone, even me. But, ultimately, there are numerous things I would love to be able to tell you, wishes and warnings alike.

So, I’m writing.

From my perspective now, I know the truth of the matter is you spend a lot of time wondering what you’re doing wrong. You worry that you’re living just this side of disaster. You stay awake too many nights trying to envision something other than a question-mark future…

Stop. Please.

Everything you’re fretting over now—the friends, the classes, the feelings, the exams, the family members, the applications, the politics—none of it is going to break you. You’re going to be alright, I promise.

Okay, I’ll admit: over the course of the next few years, you’ll truly struggle with who you are and who you want to be. There’s no use worrying though because we still haven’t figured it out in the year 2015 and that’s perfectly okay. Trust me when I say that no one has their whole life figured out at 13, 16, or 21. All that matters is that you’re continuously working on it.

Remember: life isn’t a tightrope walk over a spike-bottomed canyon.

Learn to treat every day like a stroll on the beach–the tides move in and out, but you stay standing. Just enjoy the ebb and flow.

High school will pass over you like a breeze, but sometimes it will feel like hurricane-force winds and there’s really no helping that. That’s what high school is all about–learning how much pain, how much uncertainty, how much knowledge you can stand. Chickadee, high school is about survival and endurance—even when so-and-so stops calling you a friend and what’s-his-name tells you that you’re hard to love, hold tight.

You’re a military brat, you’re made for a fight.

When it comes time for university, go with your gut.  Don’t waste time in places you know you don’t belong and don’t even want to be. Be logical and be honest. The standard university experience isn’t so idyllic and it isn’t for you. Forge your own path and you’ll end up steps ahead. Freshman year, while playing an obligatory Welcome Week name game, you’ll dub yourself Magical Mikayla–make it your goal to be that person.

After university commencement, you’ll take two semesters off. Some days, you are going to swear that it’s a waste of time, that you’re wasting time, but I swear that this opportunity to be a wanderer is precisely what you need right now. Over the course of 8 months, you’ll visit 20 different states and this time, like no other time before, travel will be all you have to focus on, all you live for.

Revel in your experiences. Get caught up in simple pleasures.

In the coming days, when you’re feeling just south of sanity, you’ll remember the feel of west coast rocks and east coast sand, the sound of northwestern rain and southeastern thunderstorms, and the smell of strong coffee and harbor winds mixed together. The places you’ve been before were wonderful, but these are the places you’ll cling to and remember best. These places will resonate.

And, just like that, you’ve caught up to me.

The future is still a masked mark in the hazy distance, as it will always be, but there is an abundance of hope, desire, and ambition. There is an ever-growing collection of wonderful days and a group of delightful people who genuinely care.

There is possibility.

My ultimate wish for you is simply that, on your way from where you are in your time to where I am now in mine, you relish the journey.

With lots of love (…and feeling incredibly strange about signing this),

(Slighty older) Mikayla

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Foodulthood.

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When you’re a kid, you absorb little lessons each day without even realizing it. Later on, you start to notice what you’ve learned because others do something, or perhaps everything, differently. Here’s what my childhood taught me about food:

Nothing can beat taco pizza from Pizza Inn in Conway, South Carolina…except maybe the pudding at the Filling Station in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina.

Peanut butter and jelly sandwich are amazing…if you leave off the jelly.

When you get Pepsi in an individual bottle, buy a sleeve of Lance regular, salted peanuts. Then, drink a little bit out of the soda and pour the peanuts into the bottle. Drink that delicious motherfucker.

Eating M&Ms is automatically better when you have someone else to share them with and you can play a game of candy color go fish.

Eating spoonfuls of peanut butter at midnight is totally acceptable, as long as you use multiple spoons and never double dip.

There is a pizza joint in Canada, somewhere northwest of Ontario that, in the early 2000s, served the best food I’d ever had. Someday I’ll find that hearty joint.

Don’t dare to call barbecue the action of grilling meat and then pouring sauce on top of it. Barbecue is much more complex and generally only delicious if you get it from a place called Cooper’s Country Store in Kingstree, South Carolina.

Croissants are the perfect food for a Christmas morning…and Christmas afternoon…and Christmas night.

Giving me sugar or another sweetener to add to a glass of unsweetened tea does not sweet tea make.

Cereal counts as a meal whether or not you eat it with milk. However, if you stick it in a plastic bag, it becomes a snack, no matter how big the serving.

Bread is the ultimate food but, pro tip: take a slice of sandwich bread, tear or eat off the crusts, and flatten the remaining bread in whatever way you like. Just make that white bread goodness look like the Eucharist in church and eat.

The tangy tomato dressing from Outback Steakhouse is the best dressing in the world. It should be bottled and given out free to every U.S. citizen as salad potion, just to brighten everyone’s days.

Boiled peanuts are the ultimate snack. They’re actually the official snack food of my birth state. But, when you eat them from a brown paper bag, they are three times better.

For some completely unknown reason, a sandwich will always taste better if someone else fixes it for you.

The U.S. military has a secret weapon and it is the pepperoni pizza from Anthony’s…a restaurant that can only be found on military installations and I wouldn’t have it any other way. No one wants to share that amazing cheese, bread, and meat combo.

Popped jello out of the snack cup, slicing it into pieces, and putting whip cream on each piece automatically makes you feel fancy and fulfilled.

Coke and Pepsi are not the same. Don’t ask me if I’ll accept one when I’ve asked for the other.

Popcorn is evil. If it is anywhere even kind of, sort of, maybe, near its’ expiration date then don’t eat it. I’m telling you: pure, unadulterated evil.

There is a huge different between the Kraft Mac ‘n’ Cheese with the cheese powder and the same with the cheese goo. Say no to goo every time.

Coconut oil does not in fact make foods taste like coconut…however, if you tell someone who you used it, they will insist that they taste it.

The pop tarts that were around circa 1999/2000 that broke into three strips of pop tart were the best pop tarts ever. Why did you discontinue them, Kellogg, why?

Red delicious apples win. Small, medium, or large. Period.

Traveling just to go to a particular restaurant is acceptable and highly encouraged.

Everyday counts as a holiday if you make and eat pumpkin pie. Also, use the Libby’s recipe, but you must use more cinnamon and less ginger or your pies are pitiful.

Avoid drinking too much of the blue Gatorade, particularly if you’ve not eaten much else recently or with it. It goes down blue, but trust me, it comes up green.

They say that a watched pot never boils. I’m here to tell you that is just silly. A watched pot seems to boil over even faster than the one I abandoned for 10 minutes.

Making pasta sushi from the left over ingredients of lasagna (mozzarella cheese rolled in lasagna noodles and dipped in sauce) is the best part of lasagna-making.

The barbecue sauce from Burger King is the perfect dipping sauce for french fries and thus stockpiling it every time you eat there is fully allowed.

~~~

That is all that I can think of at this moment, and the boiled peanuts my father just made are calling my name, so I’ll leave it up to you guys now. Post your own food lessons in the comments.

I wonder what food lessons I’ll pass on to people as time passes. Peace, love, and pizza.

True or False: Death absolves all sins.

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Dying makes you neither a saint nor an angel.

Being killed makes you neither a hero nor a saviour.

Committing suicide makes you neither a friend nor a foe.

Death is just a fact of life, regardless of what form it comes in. Death itself and the various losses associated with it do not change who a person is or was, and it should not change how they are viewed by others.

If I do not care about someone in life, I will not care about them in death.

If I do not actively miss them everyday in life, I will not miss them in death.

Call me cold or callous, but emotions are not something you can just turn on and off as society sees fit. Just because a tragedy happens does not mean I will feel a sudden emotional charge.

If there is no emotional attachment then there will be no emotional reaction.

It is not apathetic to not care in the face of third party tragedy, it is a fact of human nature.

If we were meant to care or have an emotional reaction to everything that happens in the world, we would not simply have a “heart so big it hurts like hell”, we would quite literally die of heartbreak before even reaching adulthood. Our childhood emotions alone would be a death sentence.

Emotions are a heavy thing. They carry weight and condemnation and weariness.

Emotions are a light thing. They are weightless and saving and renewing.

Emotions are a complex thing. They cannot be explained away or personally chosen.

Do not condemn someone for a lack of caring or a perceived coldness of heart.

Do not allow death to change your viewpoint of someone as death changes nothing except the population count.

Above all, do not expect more out of humans than we are capable of giving. People can be wonderful, caring, and genuinely good at times, but to not constantly dwell in such absolute goodness is not a sin. We are human and there will be times of uncaring, deceit, and true evil.

There are shades of grey between all emotions, existences, and actions. We are allowed to dwell in those shades, even if the shade in which we dwell is a place of unfeeling.