Hey there. It's me....you! I have been thinking about you a lot, and wanted to let you know how things are going, and what I've learned since your time. I think some of this will surprise you.
You are so CUTE! Seriously, little 6 year old, you're going to hit a pretty severe awkward stage very soon that will last for quite a while. Never fear, you will have a happy life and grow out of it....eventually. Meanwhile, keep having fun. Run more in the yard. Pick your friends a little more carefully. Don't worry so much about what other people think of you. It really doesn't matter whether or not Kate and Stephanie whisper about you, or whether or not you bring your lunch to school or buy it there. Just so you know, the school pizza really isn't that good anyway. You're not missing out on anything. Keep writing those (non-mandatory) book reports for your teachers. Learning is fun. Try not to forget that in junior high.
I love this picture of all the kids with Grandma Rough. Really enjoy your time with your grandparents, little Karen. They won't be around forever, and you are really going to miss them. Write them more. Learn about their lives. I'm glad you really loved them, because I think they knew that.
(Also, you and I both know that you had totally just wet your pants when they called you to take this picture. It's really okay. It was basically a onsie and there was only one bathroom. Just wait until you are pregnant. You will totally pee your pants again.
I remember this picture! You really liked it, because you thought your hair looked like a shampoo commercial. It does! You look great. Remember how excited you were to go to Young Women's at church? I'm so proud of you for going every week and learning more about the gospel. I live every day of my life grateful that I have my testimony of the Savior. Really study your scriptures and have heartfelt prayers every day. It'll help me to stay in the habit. (I know you're not going to. I'll get right on that. I know it's 20 years later, but better late than never.)
Okay. Now brace yourself.
Yes, it is you. I'm sorry to say that that little girl on the right is you. You didn't really look so bad, but you feel out of place, and so....you look like a potato. It won't always be so. Cheer up, little spud.
And not to depress you further, but Rider Strong from Boy Meets World is never going to write you back. And ripping up his picture will not change that fact. Also, he had a unibrow there for a while, so I'm a little confused as to why you thought he was so handsome. Anyway, it doesn't matter.
Hey Karen, I'm really proud of you for trying out for that play, even though you were scared, especially about singing in front of people. It led to a lot of fun times throughout the years. I know that sometimes hearing that you are ugly, stupid or fat is really really hard. Hearing it from those poor, self-conscious (yes, they are) "popular" kids sometimes makes you feel like that's who you are. I know that kids can be cruel. I look back at us 20 years ago and am sad for you. I wish I could tell you then what I know now. Saying it doesn't make it so. And I'm so glad for a loving family and loyal friends who helped us through those years. Don't worry!!!! Junior High doesn't last forever. I promise!
High school is rough, but you make it through battered but happy. Yes, you do serve a mission.
It basically changes your entire life. You meet people who shape the rest of your life. You serve and learn to love the Lord even more than you thought you could. You have so much dang fun.
No, your next door neighbor doesn't actually blow up your apartment, even though he promised to. Yes, you will survive the winters there in Montreal. You will eat a lot of Berri Uqam pizza and poutines (that's French fries with beef gravy and cheese). Your arteries will be worse for wear, but you would have died happily eating. You will ride on the metro every day and see people from all countries, cultures, and backgrounds.
You will have the best of times. You will cry yourself to sleep when people don't make the right choices. You will long for solitude, but love your companions forever.
You will become more bold. You will become less self-conscious. You will learn to make friends easier. You will learn that Heavenly Father knows you personally. It will make you a better person, and you will help others on the way. In four words: It will be awesome.
Remember him? You met him the day after you moved to Salem. He's basically the best person you'll ever know. And - spoiler alert - you get to marry that cute guy. And he will make the rest of your life super happy.
Now Karen, we have to talk. You know how you hate to work out? You hate sweating? You won't get near a gym because people might see you and that would be terrifying? Those are merely flashbacks of P.E. I know it's hard to believe, but you will actually learn to love it. There's something super cleansing and nice about working up a good sweat. Also, no one really notices you at the gym.
This picture was taken 50 pounds ago. With each pound you drop, you will gain more and more confidence. It won't just be that you are thinner. That's not the key to happiness, like you thought when you were in high school. Since then, I have become more me. More like the Karen I'm meant to be.
Your life is going to be amazing. I've lived 32 years of it, and can hardly believe all of my blessings. Each day brings new trials, joys, learning experiences, and laughs. As I get older, I hope I will improve and learn how to become more of who I truly want to be. In the meantime, I will work a little harder to be a little better, every day. I'm proud of where we've come from and all we have accomplished so far.
Basically what I want to say, Past Karen, is that you have a lot to look forward to.