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Meredith Investigates: Letter to Self #6, 2012

It’s the final countdown.

Yes, my friends, we have finally reached the last of my letters to self. Years ago, as part of a school assignment, I wrote myself a series of letters, one per year, throughout middle and high school. Then, after graduating from college, I decided it was time to share them with all of you. And this is what we’ve got.

What a wild ride we’ve had.

So let’s get down to business. 2012 Meredith is going through an interesting time, to put it lightly. On the one hand, she’d spent most of her high school career planning to go to architecture school, only to realize that maybe wasn’t what she wanted after all. Her best friend also recently moved away, so she’s feeling a little lonely, a little lost, a little at a loss as to what to do next.

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Please enjoy this picture of me and some beautiful gals before homecoming(and yes, that is a Mockingjay pin on the strap of my dress; fight me).

She had a lot of decisions to make, and not a lot of time to make them.

But she’s still that same old Meredith. Right now, she’s on a quest to watch every episode of Smallville and Degrassi: The Next Generation; it’ll take her another two years to succeed. She’s on a dystopian reading rut, tacking 1984, Animal Farm, Fahrenheit 451, Anthem, and We the Living in the span of six months. She also managed to persuade her choir teacher to skip a final exam and take the class to Les Mis in theaters instead.

And in terms of handwriting, we’ve reached our pinnacle. My handwriting in this letter is the same now; why try to change perfection? I’m talking full on cursive, folks, like they don’t make anymore. I might be the last of my kind.

For the last time: let’s dive into it.

Dear Meredith,

Already getting those Evan Hansen feels, am I right?

This is the last of the letters to self. You should read this one after all of the rest because its the final chapter. It’s so surreal to think about, and yet it’s undeniably true.

Good to see that denial is already setting in.

Over the years, my writing style and my actual handwriting have both evolved.

Wait a minute – that’d make a semi-good blog series!

Presumably, my maturity level as also progressed, but that might just as well not be.

Yeah, I wouldn’t hold your breath on that one.

I swear, sometimes I still feel twelve years old at heart.

And that won’t change; it’s a good thing.

All that can be said has probably already been written. The only truth that remains is this: live your life as God wants, not as you please. Remember this.

Somebody’s growing up and realizing things, almost like a real live person!

Serious introspection above all else is needed right now, but this doesn’t have to be self-centered. Forget what your parents want and ignore what your teachers say. What does God want you to do?

It’s a pretty short letter, but it’s full of good advice and logical thinking. This is my probably my favorite letter, even though it’s the closest to me in terms of age. It shows 2012 Meredith in a light that’s hard to picture from the mere memories of a teenage girl.

Which brings me full circle back to the reason why I wanted to do this series in the first place.

One of the last classes I took before college graduation taught us that we have always been the people we are now. As in, from childhood to adolescence to full-blown adulthood, we don’t really change. Our character, our morals, our interests, and our talents are all present from a young age.

Not to say that we’re incapable of change. Obviously, we mature. We learn from mistakes. I don’t say the same things I would say or do the same things I would do when I was thirteen.

But I have the same motives. My heart is the same.

I recently did a little exercise in my morning journal based off a prompt. What activities were highlights from each lifestage when you felt pleasure in what you were doing?

Here were my answers:

0-6: playing make believe

7-12: reading

13-18: theatre

19-22(the scale went to 24 but I haven’t gotten there yet so): writing

As you can probably tell, there’s a very clear line of action in what I like to do: stories and storytelling. And it goes full circle: I made my own stories, then read other stories, then performed those stories, and then made my own stories again.

And we’re all making our stories. The things you do today form who you will become tomorrow. Those letters that I wrote to myself, starting almost ten years ago, share smaller, neater versions of the person I was. Stack them on top of each other, and you get a picture of bigger, messier me.

Which is the whole point, I guess. Looking back at who I was to remind me of who I am now, not just to laugh or cringe or whatever, but to really value what I’ve gone through and where I’ve come from.

Thanks for tagging along with me, losers. Next week we’ll dive right back into the multi-layered world of pop culture.

Never thought you’d miss me writing about memes, now did you?

Posted in Meredith Investigates

Meredith Investigates: Letter to Self #5, 2011

No more sadness. No more pain. Let’s look at the letters the way they should be, as journey into awkward, wordy adolescence.

Welcome back to my Letters to Self. If you haven’t been following along, here’s a recap for you. When I was in junior high and high school I wrote myself a series of letters every year detailing my thoughts on my current stage of life. Some have been silly. Some have been sad. Some have spent way too much time to detailing my affection for my dog.

But this one is markedly different.

So let’s dive into 2011 Meredith. Apart from the whole driving thing, she’s having a good year. She’s always lived a little bit out-of-touch with the rest of the stuff going on with the people around her, but at least she feels like she’s doing fine. As always, she reads a lot, but now she calls it “research,” like something she could write off on her taxes. Most of her time is split between putting off her math homework and putting off her Latin homework. She spent the summer watching way too many movies at the theater. Also, she’s finally starting to post things on social media that are kind of funny. For once.

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Look how young and fresh we look(And yes, my jersey is a different color; I don’t have time to explain the rules of volleyball to you. Google it)!

Handwriting-wise, we’ve almost reached the stopping point in terms of evolution. The cursive looks good and clean; I like to leave the ends of some of my letters unfinished, like my ms and ns, so that they trail off the edge of the lines like little ribbons or something. We’re getting there, folks.

This is probably the most normal letter to self that I wrote in high school, full of all the insights and details you’d expect from a teenage girl. And after the emotional turmoil that was from the letter of the previous year, it’s a welcome change.

Let’s jump into some fluff, shall we?

Dear Meredith,

Promising!

It’s the beginning of another year again, so you know what that must mean: time for another letter to self! Honestly, I’m getting pretty tired of these, but I’ll bet you don’t want to hear that.

Dang straight! I’m milking this for all it’s worth, kiddo.

Mrs. Williams always wants us to put in personal information and stuff, but I have never really liked doing that.

We can tell, Meredith. We can tell.

To me, that stuff has never seemed that important because it’s so likely to change?

I think that’s kinda the point.

Why should you care about my latest obsession song(Timebomb by All Time Low) is or what the last book I read(Gone with the Wind) was? You already know this.

Actually, I don’t. But these are still two definitive favorites of mine, so I’ll give you a pass. Fun fact about the music I listened to in high school: I really liked emo and pop punk bands, which is hilarious given what a square I was and still am. I never dressed like the stereotypical “teenage rebel,” but I definitely had a thing for the music.

More on Gone with the Wind later.

So I guess I’ll just write about whatever’s on my mind.

That moment when you’ve been an aimless blogger since 2011.

The first thing I want to tell you about is Gone with the Wind(you see, now I sound like a first grader).

Hello, class! My name is Meredith Sweet, and I like big books; I cannot lie.

This was my first time reading it and it took me the entire summer. But it was so fantastic! It really broadens my view of the Civil War era and the Reconstruction. For some reason I’ve always had an overly romantic view of it, but I think I’ve been cured of that.

Love how the only way I described one of my favorite books of all time is through these two measly sentences about historical perspectives.

So let me elaborate now, six years later.

I’ve always loved reading. That’s no secret. I come from a family of book lovers, which only served to fuel my personal obsession. But for my most of my life I read books featuring good people: after all, I was a child, and children need role models. Heroes save the day, villains get their just desserts(speaking of which, I would also like “just desserts,” if you know what I mean), and good girls who read grow up to get nice jobs(who’s gonna tell the kid about the recession now?).

That’s the way that fables and fairy tales work.

But the real world doesn’t work like that.

The first time I read a book that really changed me was To Kill a Mockingbird. I was in ninth grade(this is right after the dog letter; you know the one I’m talking about). There were so many different motives in this book, so many different perspectives. “Right” and “wrong” weren’t subjective, per se, but every person had a different take on what seemed “right” to them.

And I’m not just talking about theories of postmodernism. I’m talking about the gray areas of literature, the spaces in between, the moral indecisions we are faced with daily. Unreliable narration, three-dimensional characters; these were brand new worlds that I was learning to explore.

Enter Gone with the Wind. Now, I wasn’t unfamiliar with the storyline; I had seen the film with my sister several years earlier. To be honest, I hated it. There was no hero; there was no happy ending. The main character, Scarlett O’Hara, had absolutely no admirable qualities. In short, I was disappointed.

But then I read the book, and I understood.

The point is not a happy ending. There are lessons to be learned in lack of character studies. The great tragedy of stories like these lies not in the “morals” of the tale, but in the futility. As a reader, we follow Scarlett through decades of failed relationships, only for her to lose the one that truly matters. By reading through her experiences, we are cautioned about our own.

As a young person, this type of advice is life-changing.

But it looks like I didn’t know quite how to express that yet.

We were just reading an article in class about finding your distinct voice. I wonder if you’ve found it yet.

This is one of my favorite writing myths.

And by “myth,” I mean “stereotypical piece of advice that isn’t necessarily true.”

Allow me to explain.

Watch any movie with a writer. Read any book. There’s always some older, wiser guru who tells the aspiring author, “This doesn’t seem like you. It’s too generic. Where is your voice?”

Never in my life have I heard a writing teacher tell me this.

I’ve never heard anyone been told this. In all honesty, “voice” is just a fancy way to say, “Hey, you’re an individual with enough opinions and unique experiences to make people listen to you. Say what you want to say.”

Don’t worry, 2011 Meredith. You’ve already found your voice. You’re using it right then, with the blue pen in your hands. It’s all you, baby.

GTG – Meredith

Look who’s down with the kids’ lingo.

Guess this is my sign-off, too, at least for now.

Later days.

Posted in Meredith Investigates

Meredith Investigates: Letter to Self #4, 2010

Special shout-out to the MCS students who graduated this past week and now fully understand the embarrassment of reading their letters to self.

Let’s hope you never choose to share them on the internet.

Welcome back, my friends. In case you’ve only just given into my shameless self-promotion, let me break it down for you. For a class project, I wrote myself a series of letters for every year that I was in junior high and high school. Now I’ve decided to share these letters with you, on the internet, as a way of looking at who I used to be and how far I’ve come.

Here’s the good news: this time, I will refrain from talking about my dog. This week is all about(drumroll please): ANXIETY.

Joy and fun for all in this one, let me tell you.

But more on that later. For now, let’s talk about 2010 Meredith. She spent a lot of time watching Disney movies and then quoting them on social media. She doesn’t like the fact that she’s reached the point in her education where math class and science class are almost the same thing. She also either uses way too much punctuation, or was always way too excited. She still does not have a driver’s license(for reasons explained later in this post).

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Grace and poise.

As for her handwriting, we’ve reached the point where she’s not sure if she likes printing or cursive, so she’s sort of combined the two. It kinda looks like I have multiple personalities. Which I might. The jury’s still out.

So let’s dive into this hot mess, shall we?

So, apparently, we are allowed to write down our mental concerns. My question is, why would you want to?

And here we are, starting with no intro and some distressing thoughts. I wish I could say this letter gets better, but it does not.

Yes, folks, it’s time for another letter to self.

Notice how I once referred to the reader as Meredith of 2013, but now I address a crowd. Did I have a premonition about how I would share this with others?

Definitely creepy.

Another ten minutes gone in this thing we call life to speak to my future self just to see if my life will have changed.

And here’s what it gets worse.

Is my life interesting? No. Do I have a boyfriend? No.

That moment when your fifteen-year-old self sounds like your mother.

Any prospects? My lips are sealed.

Don’t be coy, 2010 Meredith. We all know this is a lie.

My mind is often preoccupied. I am constantly thinking about nonsense, myths, and other strange things. Why? I haven’t the slightest idea.

You’re not a special snowflake. That’s called being a writer. It will make you everything but money.

I think I must have a boredom complex of something. If that’s even plausible, which it’s probably not.

“Boredom complex.” Definitely gonna use that as an excuse from now on. As in, “um, I have a boredom complex? That’s why I can’t listen to you for more than thirty seconds at a time. Because you’re boring.”

I also think about houses and stuff. Especially about how I would change something to make it even more beautiful.

Still on that architecture path, remember.

WWMC? What would Meredith change?

Can’t wait for that one to catch on.

I wish I could really change things. But to me, it’s like impossible. Right now, it feels like goals are impossible, and so are all my ambitions.

To those of you who are really picking up on how different this tone is from the rest of my letters, allow me to elaborate on the sources of my “teen angst.”

Several things were going on in my life at this exact moment.

First of all, one of my best friends had recently transferred, so I was feeling a little abandoned. But I don’t think that was the real force behind my feelings, though it’d be easy to look back on these times and blame it on that.

The truth is, I think this is a moment in time when my anxiety really took ahold of me. I’m not afraid to tell you, whoever’s reading this, that though I’ve struggled with anxiety for most of my life, that I didn’t really figure out what was “wrong” with me until my freshman year of college.

Nobody ever told me what anxiety felt like. Nobody ever let me know that when you make a mistake, and you feel like you want to die – that isn’t perfectionism, that’s not normal. And my anxiety didn’t look like what I saw in other people, or what I saw on TV. Mine was paralyzing, and it made me feel like I was going to be sick.

And a lot of it, for me, revolved around driving.

I didn’t get my license until I was almost 20, which is lame, I know. And believe me, I’ve gotten my share of teasing on the matter (do not feel bad if you’ve ever mentioned it to me. Frankly, it’s hilarious). But let me explain a little further.

When I talk about driving anxiety, know that it started small. I get in the driver’s seat; my heart starts to pound. My hands shake. Every stop, every turn I make has the potential of disaster. Sometimes, I even get panic attacks.

Now, I want you to know that for the most part, I’ve conquered this particular sphere of anxiety. It’s been almost two years since my last full-on panic attack, though if you find yourself driving behind an old woman in a bright red car-surprise! It’s probably me.

This is not the weird period of anxiety I’ve gone through in my life – that doesn’t come until my sophomore year of college. But in general, my anxiety is fairly mild. I have no formal diagnosis, I take no medication for it, I manage it all using breathing exercises and other coping mechanisms.

So far, so good.

All this to say that sometimes, when I look back on these high school days, there’s a temptation to romanticize who I was or the way I was feeling, but that’s not true. I still had the same problems then that I do now.

I just know how to look for them now.

And so, on August 31, 2010, fifteen days before I turn 16, I’m feeling very discouraged…

Ellipses and all. What a drama queen.

Don’t worry, folks. Next week won’t be so whiny, I promise.

 

 

Posted in Meredith Investigates

Meredith Investigates: Letter to Self #3, 2009

This post may otherwise be known as: Love Letter to My Dog.

But more on that later.

For now, welcome back to my letters to self. For those of you out of the loop, I wrote a series of letters to myself when I was in junior high and high school that I didn’t get to see until I graduated. Now, since I’ve just graduated from college, I’ve decided to reexamine these letters and share them with all of you.

This week, we’ve hit 2009. No more middle school! Happier words were never spoken, written, or typed. However, let me tell you: the adolescent struggle isn’t over. Not for a long shot.

Let me introduce you to 2009 Meredith. High school has not made her any cooler. She spends a lot of time in class pretending to pay attention, but drawing or writing instead. She and her friends have developed a secret calculator code to pass notes in class. Only now has she finally been allowed to get on Facebook.

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There’s no good explanation for this picture, other than that all of the boys were gone for a soccer tournament, so our class took an impromptu field trip to McDonald’s and the park. Also, our teacher had a Hummer.

And let’s take a look at her handwriting. Now she’s writing in cursive, which is what I still write in now, but she lacks some of the flourishes I’ve added in the coming years. Everything looks pretty standard, no creativity there.

Also, side note: young Meredith’s punctuation was still on point. I haven’t corrected any of it in these posts, and every comma, apostrophe, and colon is still in place. Sometimes I can’t believe it, but middle school and high school Meredith still knew grammar like the back of her hand.

Nothing left to do but dive into the letter, right?

Hola.

Written by a girl who hasn’t had a Spanish class since 2005.

I’m Meredith, as you probably know, because hello! You’re me!

Apparently, the thought didn’t occur to me at 14 that I’d be sharing any of this with the rest of the world.

What to write about…

Constant struggle.

Mrs. Williams just on some music.

She was always good with the tunes.

I’m hungry: I have to get through this class before lunch.

Not gonna lie, food is always on my mind. Just you wait, 2009 Meredith; half the time at college, you don’t get a lunch break. You just starve.

I’m a freshman this year. It’s pretty cool, I guess. The class are going to be harder. But that’s a good thing.

What a nerd.

I’m almost fifteen, but I have no idea what I want for my birthday. I need a metronome for piano, but other than that, nothing.

Maybe I should blame my lack of instrumental talent on the fact that I never did get a metronome for my birthday.

Oh, I have a new puppy!

And here’s that love letter I was telling you about.

His name is Edison and he’s a Border Collie.

Pupper then:

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Doggo now:

Please enjoy artsy photos of the most perfect boy.

A post shared by Meredith Sweet (@kindamgsweet) on

He is so adorable. I swear, if he were a man, I’d marry him.

TMI, Meredith. TMI.

We have our first away game today.

Clarification: I played volleyball throughout junior high and high school. For those of you who know what my athletic abilities are, this might come as a shock, but that’s one of the upsides of going to a small school. They will take literally anybody.

I’m on Varsity now: isn’t that great? We’re playing Fellowship and driving all the way to Owosso. Tuesday was our first day, and guess what? We won! I was playing the whole time, and we won. Imagine!

My athletic prowess even surprises myself.

Being a freshman is going to be so much fun. I’m already excited for Homecoming. I can’t wait to pick out my dress.

Not gonna lie, the process for finding a dress that year was like trying to get down to the inner circle of Hell. There had been a recent crack-down on modesty at special events, and due to the nature of the school, every teenage girl had to show pictures of themselves in their dress or walk down to the office in person for official inspection by the women in the office. It was not what I would call a fun time.

Well, I’m running out of stuff to say.

Never seemed to be a problem for me before.

My life is kinda boring.

And yet again, nothing changes.

Oh, well, more’s the pity. Bye-Bye now!

Conclusion: nothing too embarrassing, beside all of the things I said about my dog. But he’s a beautiful boy! Yes, he is! Who can blame me?

Tune in next time to see me NOT talk about my dog AND have an existential crisis!

It doesn’t get much better than this.