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.
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?
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.