So, for those of you who don’t know Julia, here’s a video that’ll get you all caught up from the moment she was born until now.
So, a couple of weeks ago we went out to dinner to celebrate Julia’s 18th birthday. OH. EM. GEE. She’s an adult, it’s too freaky for me. Anyways, after dinner we stood out in the front yard talking heart to heart like sisters do (you know, with a lot of references to memes and this thing she calls “reddit”) when very suddenly, out of the blue, my little sister threw her arms around me. She looked up at me, with tears running down her face…. well, no. She’s as tall as me now, I suppose. But I’m always looking down at her somehow. Maybe I was standing on the curb. Anyhow, she was all tearful, she looked up at me with her giant baby sister eyes shining in the moonlight and said:
“Rachel, I don’t want to go to college.”
Of course, my first instinct was to do this:
But I heard myself saying something else. I guess I’m finally getting that whole “well ya never really knooow, but if they’re ever gonna grooow, ya’ve got ta let em go – ya knooooooooooow!” thing. (yes, that IS a quote from the Finding Nemo Musical, thanks for noticing!)
I said “Of course you want to go to school! You’re going to have so much fun!” And the whole conversation got me thinking. Thinking about how her whole life was about to change. Thinking about how scary that is. Well, miss Julia has expressed interested in being on my blog, and in a lot of ways this all applies to people with invisible illness, too. It’s scary, when you first get that diagnosis. Or even before that point. So if you’re sick and looking for answers, or you’ve just found out what your new “normal” is going to be, or….you’re about to go off to college, and live on your own for the first time – this letter is for you.
Of course you want to go to college. It’s going to be really exciting, and really different. And I know that’s a scary thought. And I know you’re not so sure where you’re headed, or what you want to do with your life. That’s a long list of big decisions! But you don’t have to make them all now. You may not be 100% sure what career path you want to go down, or how you want to make a difference in the world. But what you do know is what kind of story you like – as a story analyst, I can tell where you’re headed before you even decide.
When you were a little girl, your favorite movie was Anastasia. Anastasia, or Anya, as she was known when she was about your age, spends her whole childhood in one place. She has friends, and is perfectly happy really. It isn’t until she gets to that fork in the road that she has to make any kind of big decision. She is told to go get a job at that…fish place thing….but when she sees that the opposite direction could lead to a brighter future, and self discovery, she takes that path despite not knowing for sure where it will take her.
Then a lot of bad things happen, and a lot of good things happen. I know you hate making choices, but you already made the most important one! Instead of heading straight to the job market to pursue money, you’ve chosen the path of enlightenment and self-discovery. You’re on your way to going from the littlest Sykora girl to becoming a bright young lady with an even brighter future.
After a while, you decided that Atlantis was, in fact, the best movie ever. In this story, strangers enter Atlantis, the place Kida has called home for like a gazillion some-odd years. When they arrive, the King insists they leave, but Kida sees an opportunity. She confides to Milo, one of the strangers, that though her people survive, they are not truly living. They do not learn, they have no art, no culture left. Kida dreams of thriving – mere living is not enough for her. But she’s not a doe-eyed dreamer – she never lets her guard down. She don’t take crap from no man!
On a personal quest to restore culture, art, and meaning to life, Kida embodies one overarching message to her people: Do not give up. Do not give in. Do not loose hope. But do not be stupid about it. There may be a chance, in these explorers from beyond, in restoring Atlantis – but there may be a chance of danger, and destruction, too. Every journey holds the potential for great reward, but be aware of the risks you are taking. Be strong. Be a badass. Be your own hero.
In more recent times, your favorite movies have been the latest and greatest Disney heroines. Of course, there’s Tiana, the beautiful overworked underpaid waitress in The Princess and the Frog. She’s a hardworking gal with big dreams and big plans. But they get a bit…derailed.
But even though things don’t always play out the way we think they will, and even though there are times where just everything falls apart, in the end we always get what we need. It may not be exactly what we had in mind, and we may not get everything we want. But if you “dig a little deeper,” you’ll always get just what you need.
((Side note: it is a downright shame this post couldn’t have more to do with Lottie, because I have never found so many entertaining gifs in all my life. So I’m throwing one in, I don’t even care if she’s a terrible role model. I love her. And we all just have to be a little Lottie sometimes.))
And finally, there’s Rapunzel. She, too, spent her childhood relatively happy, but very sheltered. She had big dreams, that’s for sure, but…of what? Rapunzel wasn’t sure. She saw strange lights in the night sky, and it made her want to see the world. But she didn’t have a plan, and she wasn’t sure what she’d find, out there in the world, alone….without mommy to take care of her… what would she do?
Just like Anastasia, she took the road less traveled. She decided to quest for herself – to find out who she really was. Let’s face it, going out into the great unknown is the greatest test of one’s “self.” To find out one’s “muchness,” if I may quote Alice in Wonderland. Just like Kida, she was strong, brave, and unwilling to resign herself to a life of monotony. Just like Tiana, though she didn’t quite know what she was looking for, she found exactly what she needed in the end.
You can do anything.
And now, Julia, I am going to tell you what our Daddy told me once, when I looked up at him with eyes full of tears and said I did not want to leave home:
And that goes to all of you. All of you who are frightened, and unsure of the future. Weather you’re sick or healthy, alone or surrounded by friends, young or old, starting college or finishing it – it’s going to be all right. Hug.