A Message to My Younger Self, a guest post by Erin Entrada Kelly

When my family first moved to Louisiana, I was six years old. My father drove us down to the Gulf of Mexico to see the water. When we got there, my older sister Anna immediately ran down the beach and into the shallow water. She stood there, laughing, letting the water froth around her ankles. I hesitated. I grabbed my father’s hand. I waited and pulled away. The water didn’t look welcoming to me. It looked like a vast, hungry beast, with waves for teeth. And the beach was an endless wasteland littered with things that could hurt me. Like sharp seashells or little clawed crabs.

At home, we had a tree in our front yard. My mother wanted to get a picture of me and Anna sitting in it.

“Climb up, climb up,” my mother said.

Anna scurried up. I stayed on the ground. The tree wasn’t a friendly place. To me, it looked like an easy place to fall.

The author, her older sister Anna, and the tree she was afraid to climb.

I was afraid of other things, too. I didn’t walk barefoot in the grass because I might step on something sharp. I didn’t let go of both handlebars when I rode my bike. If an insect came near me, I screamed.