Dear Teenage Daughter,
These last couple months have been tough for you, I know. You, of course, seem to have come through it with your usual mixture of grace and awkwardness, and I doubt that five years from now you will think back on this time much at all. But it will change you, in subtle and important ways.
First of all, let me say that part of me wishes I had the power to take all of that pain away from you. But I don’t, and the rational side of me doesn’t really want that power. If you do it right, pain is very useful. That’s why you’re sore after a great workout. As long as you learn from it.
Breaking up with your boyfriend was one of the best things in the world for you. Not because he’s a creep, and not because he was bad for you. He wasn’t. But there’s only so much you can learn about yourself and about what you want from a husband later in life from one boy. I hope you think back on him fondly in the years to come, because he was your first love. And, sure, 16-year old love is mostly a cocktail of hormones, drama, and too much cologne, but that doesn’t change that he will always be your first love, and you will always remember the first guy you chose to make so important in your life.
I hope you learn from that that you are loveable; that you are worthy of being treated like a princess; that you never have to compromise your values or your ambition to be loved, in return; and that whoever you end up with had better be able to challenge you to grow.
That other thing, the car accident, was pretty normal — every kid has them. It really was a sort of best-case scenario, too: you weren’t hurt, you didn’t hurt anybody else, and it scared the bejeezus out of you. Good. A car should scare you. But, like most scary things, that doesn’t mean avoid them. You have to learn to control that fear, to control yourself as a driver, and to control the car around you. It’s an amazingly valuable lesson, if you take it to heart.
More important, though, are the particulars of the accident. You were so concerned about what was going on behind you that you kept your eye on the rear-view mirror too long and didn’t see the bad thing coming straight at you. Now, it’s pretty rare that life provides such a great metaphor all on its own, but, in this case, voila!
You can’t spend your life worrying about the past. You can’t. You need to remember it, you need to occasionally look back and re-evaluate its lessons, but you have to keep your eyes peeled on the road ahead of you. What’s behind you will rarely overtakes and hurts you; what you don’t see coming straight at you will often be terrible. Look ahead, dreamer.
And, as always, daddy loves.
Michael Alcorn is a music teacher and fitness instructor who lives in Arvada with his wife and three children. He graduated from Alameda High School and the University of Colorado-Boulder.