Thursday, February 25, 2016
a letter to my 18 year old self
You're 18 yrs old. You're standing in bathroom preparing yourself for another day of school. You stare at the reflection in the mirror. You crack a smile...as you've done several times...then you say to the mirror..."You are great". This wasn't a daily affirmation. You were just reminding yourself of something that you had been taught and believed since you were about 6 yrs old.
You're a high school senior. You are surrounded by a great family. You have the best friends in the world. You're playing high school football at Wilson High in Florence, SC. You're enjoying every day of high school. Life is great. You feel like you know it all.
You don't know ANYTHING.
You'll be headed off to college soon. You have no idea how your life is about to change. You are about to leave your family behind. You'll only be 90 miles away at South Carolina State University. Little do you know...this will be the last time you'll live under the same roof as your mom, aunt, cousin, and your brother. Family is everything to you at 18. They are all that you know. They are a phone call away. So, is your father and your little sister. Your family is all that you have. You'll miss them and they'll miss you. Everything happens for a reason. Don't worry...your brother, Damon...will join you and your cousin at SC State in the fall of 1994. Before you leave Florence, savor it. Take it in. You won't realize how much this town means you until you're gone. It's home. Always will be. Do me a favor, Kyle...stop by the school to see Coach Wells. He was not only your head coach but a mentor. You never got a chance to thank him for all that he did for you. You'll be stunned by the phone call that you'll get 3 yrs later and the realization that he had passed away.
Somebody will soon ask you about your biggest fear and your response will be "losing touch with my crew". You have a ton of friends. But only a few that you can call crew. Nobody comes above the crew! Never has...never will. You're at a crossroad because everybody in the crew will soon be going in different directions as college looms. A few will head into the military. There was no such thing as email or cell phones. Hell...you won't even be able to call them because you don't have the money to pay for a long distance call. You will stay in touch via letters. It sounds strange. But it will work. You can't deny the bonds that you established with the dudes and girls in your crew. There's something to be said about the people who knew you from day 1. The ones who will watch you grow into the person that you will become.
At this time of your life, you have a few things that you love. Hip hop is one of them. You're engulfed in the music and the culture. It has become a major part of you and your life. The truth is...hip hop has always been there. That will never change. Your love for hip hop will never die. As for the girls, love has escaped you. Actually, you ran away from love. You had girlfriends and others that you liked but you couldn't love them. Why? The fallout from your parents divorce had an effect on how you viewed relationships. You secretly vowed to never let anyone get that close to you so you'd never experience the pain that you felt from the divorce. You don't realize how this changed your relationships. It made you unwilling to love, cautious, but not jaded. Here's the good news...you will soon find love, learn to open your heart, and you will learn to love. And that will change the way that you look at a lot of things.
Your first love is football. I could write you a dissertation on what football means to you and what you'll actually get from the game. Maybe I'll save that for the next letter. The game gave you so much. You will give back some of what you got later in life. Just know that your love for football will only grow. You're 18 now. You only have a few more years to play the game. Once you've stopped playing, walking away will be hard but you'll adjust.
Lastly...your world will change. In time, you will become a husband and a father. I can't put into words what that will do to you but you'll be a better man as a result of it. There is a lot more that I can say but I'll save that for the next letter. Continue to live each day to the fullest. Find something to laugh at each day. Never take anything too serious. I'll leave you with this word of wisdom that you heard at the age of 6 that has become your life's motto...
Think positive. Act positive. And you will become a positive person.
43 yr old Kyle