Initial Thoughts

You did the best you could.

I should have started in May, worked on it for a few
hours a day until October. Then, maybe I’d have had a chance.

But, given the situation—SAT prep, taking the SAT on October 1st—you
went in to Taylor and Crocker, asked for help, did all you could do.
You worked your butt off, and you can really only look forward from here.

What I should have done is move my SAT to November in the first place.
Could have avoided the whole accidental-cheating
thing, saved myself a few nights of crying.

Hey, you got a freaking —-. That’s incredible. You should be so proud of yourself.

I got a freaking 5 on the analysis part of the essay.
FIVE. BELOW AVERAGE. 6/5/6, when you were shooting for 8/8/8.

You can’t always be perfect.

Perfect is what I strive for, and when I know I can do it, and I don’t get it,
that’s when it bothers me. Like YoungArts. I definitely could
have done it. Besides, like, five of my friends got freaking FINALIST.
I didn’t even get merit.

If you compare yourself to others, you’re never going to be happy.

But here’s the thing. This is just an affirmation of what I’ve
always known—I’m just faking it. I’m just faking this whole ‘writer’
thing. I’m no
writer. I don’t wake up each morning and feel this
immediate urge to throw up words and arrange them pretty. I sorta pick
it up and put it down as I feel like it. And so no wonder I can’t get
into Iowa YWS, get freaking
merit when I spent a hundred hours on
these pieces. I’m not talented. I’m not meant for this. I’m just forcing
myself into shoes that weren’t meant to fit.

But you enjoy it.

Who freaking cares if I enjoy it? Colleges don’t give a f*** if you
enjoy what you do. I can tell them all I want that I love writing,
writing is my passion, yadah yadah yadah, but if I don’t have a single
thing to
show for it—not even a freaking merit award—they don’t care.

Hey. You enjoy writing. You write, and that makes you a writer.
Don’t let this one stupid contest get you down. Writing contests
are so subjective, and who knows if you would have gotten some
recognition if the next reader down the line had gotten your piece.
Keep on writing—don’t let some outside stranger define you.
Don’t give up. How many articles have you read about famous authors
receiving hundreds of rejections?

Ok. So in the real world, if you want to do something, you gotta be
good at it. You gotta have some natural talent. You can’t just wake up
one day as a sixteen year old and decide you want to be a professional
ballerina—you’re screwed. There are three-year-olds in Russia leagues
ahead of you. And that’s the thing; if I had some natural talent,
since I spent so many goddang hours on this thing, I would have
at least gotten merit. Again, I’m an imposter. I’m, again, the one who
sucks. Like, the one that everyone else can point at and say, at least
I’m better than her. The same way I used to put down others in orchestra…

It’s just one contest. You have Scholastic in December, push hard for
that. There’s nothing you can do but try and improve yourself.

I’m screwed. I hate myself. I wouldn’t mind if I accidentally fell
off my balcony.

Omg. Stop being so melodramatic. We’ve been through this
before. That would utterly devastate Dad, Mom, Andrew, Aaron,
your friends… jeez.

Well, it’d help the GPA proposal case.

STOP! You’re so selfish.

See? I hate myself. I hate myself so much there’s blood in the
shower. I can’t sleep. I
hate myself.

You’re so focused on yourself. Have you been praying (remember
Bolivia? remember the month after, remember how 1) praising God,
2) praying for others, 3) praying for yourself, gave you perspective and
that incredible peace?) You should be turning to God
at the very least
in times of trouble—technically, if you had won something, your very
first instinct should have been to praise Him. If you can’t even turn
to him in hard times, how can you claim to come to him in your regular days?

Yeah, I suck. I’m a terrible, terrible Christian, and a sh***y person.

Goodness gracious. It’s not the end of the world! You literally just
met a homeless person who’s running away from her husband, who
beat her to a pulp.

Yeah. My problems don’t actually matter. What a monster I am.

Hey, God has a plan for you, and remember? Pursuing anything
that’s not him is going to end in emptiness. That’s been proven
over and over again, even several times in your own short lifetime.
Refocus. He’s going to take care of you.

And again. It’s impossible to be successful and Christian. Because
to be Christian is to give up ambition. To be Christian is to accept it
when things go wrong, to never push yourself, to seek a kingdom
beyond this Earth and live in light of the fact of eternity. To
give up the very idea of success, because success is worldly and it is
impossible to love God
and love the world. Steve Jobs didn’t change
the world by being Christian. Christians are loving, understanding,
prayerful, self-denying, and would never put others down to rise
themselves, never play the ugly politics of company power, never pursue
achievement in the single-minded way worldly people do.
And succeed at.

Okay, and that’s the thing. Worldly success isn’t important.
Besides, it all depends on the way you define success. I know
you want to change the world, but again, if you get there, it’ll
be empty. If you place your definition of success in Jesus,
and serving him to the fullest of your ability, you won’t be hungry.

Successful people are hungry. That’s exactly it. They hunger for
more, they’re always hungering for better. That’s what earns them
sentences in the history books. Doesn’t matter if they’re happy or not;
people will be studying them after their deaths for the things they’ve
done, the impact they made.

And again, this world is fleeting. If you place your value in the
degree to which you’re remembered after death, what are you
going to do once everyone in the world is gone? You know that
day will come, when everyone is either in heaven or in hell. Do
you feel a sense of urgency for that? God’s kingdom is the only
thing that satisfies and saves.

F*** Jesus. F*** Christianity. I want to kiss and masturbate
and have sex, and go to parties and drink myself to confusion.
All the things teenagers are supposed to be doing. I want sexual
pleasure and physical highs, and I want to cut myself and starve myself
until I’m as skinny as the people at ballet. And maybe then,
I’ll be a writer.

Because the best writers are depressed.

And the best writers aren’t Christian.

That’s your next avenue of attack. Writers aren’t Christian.
So be Christian. Write about Christianity, how hard it is to not
necessarily believe it’s morally right for men to marry men.
How hard it is to not masturbate. How hard it is to believe in
the death and resurrection of a Jesus that is so unpopular that
to mock him is mainstream. How this culture of never-ending
self-indulgence has consequences. Write this thing, because if
anything, the fact that you
don’t have sex and you don’t curse and you
do believe in universally ridiculed values… is what makes you unique.

I’m not good enough even for that.

Then work on it. Ask your teachers for brutal feedback. Be hard on
yourself. But remember that God actually loves you, which sounds
ho-hum, but is absolutely true. And your family loves you, and your
friends love you, and no matter what setbacks you’re experiencing
right now, you’re
going to have a future, and you’re going to be
surprised by just how good is the Lord.

Keep praying. It’s all going to be okay.

No.

Child, trust me.

Chao,

Isabella – 11/18/16

remembering Alexei.

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