Dear Gifted Me: Donna Susanne

Welcome to the first edition of DEAR GIFTED ME – Letters to our gifted selves. Using the wildly popular DEAR TEEN ME letters YA writers have been writing to their younger selves, these posts strive to remember and teach our younger selves something about growing up gifted. Our first installment comes from Donna Leonard. These posts will pop up from time to time. If you are interested in contributing one, be sure to let us know!

And now – take it away, Donna:

Dear Donna,

Stop comparing your insides to other people’s outsides! You deserve to be where you are. The summer before each year of Jr. High, practice your math! Yes, I know you hate it, and you might actually be a bit dyslexic when it comes to numbers. Otherwise, you will end up in math classes far below your abilities and will become so bored that your Math Pee-Chee folder will have more doodles on it than any other subject’s corresponding Pee-Chee folder. You do well with understanding mathematical concepts, but your hand will continually and randomly write down the wrong number, thus throwing off entire calculations. Sometimes even re-checking doesn’t help, but re-check anyway. Take Math classes all four years of high school, and while we are on the subject, do whatever it takes to get into college (Berkeley would be awesome!—hint, hint).

Don’t fall into the trap of putting forth a mediocre effort just because you can still get A’s and B’s this way. This will also get you C’s in certain classes and can hinder your chances of getting into the college of your choice. Get some classes, like Chemistry out of the way over the summer.

How far back in time do I get to go with this letter? If I can go back to when you were almost four-years-old, I would like to request that you not ask your mother any questions about God. This might actually prevent her from later joining a religion that frowns on higher education. YOU ARE GOING TO COLLEGE! Sorry, didn’t mean to scare you. Even if this doesn’t work, you can still go to college, but you really have to push for it, and get plenty of scholarships and grants, because I am telling you right now, your parents aren’t saving one red cent toward any college fund. They do manage to keep a roof over your head, have plenty to eat, buy you new school clothes every year, and get braces for you. (Okay, the not “saving one red cent” thing isn’t exactly accurate. They do manage to sock away an entire couple hundred bucks in a school savings fund for me.)

Save your money (stop laughing!) Be an actor! Be a writer! Write novels! Write screenplays! Date John Cusack! (Oh, sorry, that one just kind of slipped in there…) They didn’t make a mistake when they said you were “gifted,” but even “gifted” people have to work hard for their success.

Did I mention, go to college? Don’t waste our mind!

Oh, one more thing: I am concerned that if I send this letter to my younger self, it might produce a time-travel paradox, wherein, if my younger self reads this and follows the instructions, my children might never exist. They are all amazing, bright, creative people! I would not trade getting married at eighteen, getting divorced while pregnant with ex-husband’s twins at 24, and being a single mom of twins for the first five years of their lives, if it means I would never know them, or the man I am married to now, or our ten-year-old daughter. It was all worth it, even if it has taken me decades to struggle with my self-confidence! So, this letter will have to remain unsent. The entire fabric of Time and Space depends upon it!

Donna Leonard

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