Dear Younger Me: What I Know About Home, Hardship, Heartbreak, and Hope

Dear Younger Me: What I Know About Home, Hardship, Heartbreak, and Hope

Dear Younger Jess,

Remember when you met a boy at that party your first month at college? You just thought that he was some senior captain who was for sure moving back home when he graduated and you'd never hear from or see him again.

Well, you were wrong, very wrong.

He turns out to be the greatest thing that ever happens to you.

He will soften your hard edges and break down the walls around your heart. In doing so, that allows you to offer that big heart of yours to others.

He will teach you that you don't actually know everything and that is okay. "It is better to be happy than to be right."

And his job will consume your life, but unlike your original assumptions, it won't be solely to make you miserable. Instead, it is to put you in situations and scenarios that bring out the best in you—the you that you were created to be.


Speaking of his job, remember when you thought you could never live the coaching lifestyle? It was too difficult.

The uncertainty wasn't something you'd ever be able to handle. Having other people or something else dictate your life wasn't anything you'd ever be interested in.

But once again, you were wrong.

This lifestyle will teach you to be flexible and independent. You'll never stop planning, that's just at the core of who you are.

But, you become more open to other paths that don't line up with your plans and can admit to not knowing what is best. And it's all because you know the One guiding your footsteps has a much better view, and He only wants the best for His daughter.


Speaking of your Heavenly Father, your faith becomes your single greatest attribute. But, you don’t get it for free.

You will be knocked down to your knees, stripped of all hope and any illusion that you are in control of this life.

However, it is there that God meets you.

He had tried other ways, used multiple nudges to get your attention, but you are stubborn and thick headed.

He had to knock you down, but you soon come to realize that He did it so you could build yourself back up into a better, stronger, more caring and empathetic version of yourself.

He supplies you with the materials needed, but it's not what you expect or even what you want.


Those materials He provides are in the form of difficulties. (I told you it's not what you wanted, but it IS what you need.)

At first, you believe there can be no possible purpose for the pain and hardship.

But, there's a lot of learning and growing that comes from it.

You build up your strength, resiliency, and endurance. It shapes and molds you. As cliche as it sounds, it chips away at the unnecessary junk to reveal the diamond beneath.

And when you come out on the other side of those hardships, you become a storyteller. You use those experiences and lessons learned to give hope and light a path to others who come after you.


The hardest lesson you'll ever have to learn is the definition of home. I know it might seem simple, a universal term without dispute. But for you, it becomes more and more complicated over the years.

Yes, home is Dublin (and the Ohio State University), where you were born and raised, where you went to college, grad school, and met coach, and where you became a coach's wife. It gave you your roots.

Yes, home is Annapolis (and the Naval Academy), where you spent your newlywed years, where you learned how to be independent and do things on your own. It gave you your wings.

Yes, home is Lutherville (and Towson University), where you brought home each one of your babies after they were born, where you started to raise them up, and where you created a million memories. It gave you your unshakeable faith.

And yes, home is Setuaket (and Stony Brook University), where you are still trying to figure out your place, where you sheltered through a global pandemic, and where you found your voice. It gave you your purpose.


You never truly feel like you're handling it well though.

Initially, you think that if you give your heart to your current school and community, neither one of you will ever be the same when it comes time to leave. You see that as a negative.

You convince yourself it's for the best, the best for the community and for you, to stay detached. But once again, you are wrong, very, very wrong.

You'll realize that to do it the right way, to be the best possible coach's wife (and person), the one that the community and school deserve, it's going to cost you a piece of your heart.

You’re not doing it right if it doesn't tear your heart up to leave a place.

Now, I know what you are thinking...doesn't that mean it's going to hurt? Yes, there will always be heartache.

But that dull, constant pain will be nothing compared to the immense joy you experience by living in the moment.

It will all be worth it. All the hellos, all the goodbyes, all the tears, all the laughter, all the friendships, and all the heartbreaks.

Nothing is ever wasted.

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