Music / Nation / Parenting

Letter to Myself as a 14-year-old

Friend Stephan Warrington and I after receiving our American Legion post’s awards in 1981 (I was 13 going on 14) for being the top two academic students at the former Immaculate Conception School in the Germantown section of Philadelphia.

Dear Sharyn,

Believe it or not, life doesn’t get easier or better as you get older.

The drunken fights you witness among adults don’t just end after you get older and don’t live with Mom and Dad anymore. The fights just end up involving you or one of your friends.

So please know that drinking doesn’t make you an adult.  Learn now, years before it seems that drinking alcohol is sophisticated and cool, rather than later not to pick up the drinks just because they’re there. You actually have more fun sober and get to remember all of the fun.

Celebration was a No. 1 hit for Kool & the Gang.

Celebration, Kool & the Gang, 1981

After your friend Donna had that killer party this year, you just had to top her. Years of planning that basement Sweet 16 party as the “be-all” will not pay off because you screw it up by sitting on your boyfriend Travis’ lap at the party.

Sukiyaki, Taste of Honey, 1981

You knew Wilbur WAS NOT having that! You’ll never live down your Dad throwing all your friends out of the house while saying “Sharyn doesn’t know how to act like a lady, so the party’s over.” Your dad even sprung for a hired deejay — what a waste!

Ain’t Even Done With The Night, John Cougar, 1981

Another One Bites The Dust, Queen, 1981

And trust me … I promise you that you will love again and Travis won’t be the “only one.” So you have plenty of time before you make any major commitments.

Endless Love, Diana Ross and Lionel Richie, 1981

Single is from Hall & Oates’ album “Voices.”

You Make My Dreams Come True, Hall & Oats, 1981

The freedom you expected to have when you grew up is hindered by lack of time, lack of money or lack of motivation or energy. Sure you have a driver’s license, but car payments, insurance, gas, Virginia taxes, tolls and maintenance are barely manageable.

I’m Coming Out, Diana Ross, 1981

Know that life isn’t about material things or the latest fashions that all of the cool girls at the cool-girl table talk about in high school. Believe it or not, what you’ll end up cherishing are the quiet nights with your grandparents, watching Young and the Restless with Mama,   family dinners out at The Open Hearth, fall foliage drives with Aunt Doris and laughing with loved ones.

Know that there is bad with the good. Know that heartbreak and loss teaches you to appreciate and nurture the love and life that you already have — every single day. And you’ll learn that tears also come from joy that is so wondrous you can’t explain it. Yes, little miss teenager, there really are happy tears.

I love you and always remember that.

Sharyn

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