Dear Younger Me,
You are beautiful but you’ll go through school and meet classmates that will try to convince you otherwise. One day girls will stop trying to pick fights with you and you will understand how much love, support and strength you were born into when your sisters go to bat for you. You won’t fit the features of your classmates and cultural contemporaries and you will find love and friendship in other cultures. Never lose your wonder and curiosity for other people. Your hair is different and you’ll hate to brush it, but one day you’ll make peace with your hair (but not a curling iron) and you’ll grow into confidence to match your beauty and it will be okay. One day strangers – both men and women – will stop to tell you that you have a beautiful smile and they’ll want nothing more than to keep that smile on your face. The names you were called for your full lips and messy hair will be a painful but distant memory and it’s not your fault that you look different. You are different and different is amazing.
There will be silly boys that will make it seem really likely that they are the only ones that see how amazing you are because they were the only ones brave enough to ask you out. They will want you to touch them when you just want a hug. They will make you feel like affection is an obligation, but it’s not. You are in control of your own body and no one is entitled to it but you. You’ll find your day brightened by the random people that go out of their way to say hello because there are really nice people in the world and they know that you usually are one of them too.
You may never get the concepts of team sports, but you will love the many ways your body proves how amazing it is. Childbirth will empower you in ways that you won’t be able to properly verbalize. You will see the world differently through the act of raising children that came from your body. You will find joy in hiking down and then up a cliffside because it can feel amazing to push the limits of what you thought you were capable of. Wear knee pads during all of your drill team practices because knee pain at 23 is unfair and you will find any excuse to accept the responsibility of your injuries and beat yourself further for it. Fake it until you feel it and above all, remember there is fun to be had and that feels better than a trophy that needs to be dusted looks. You’ll get more satisfaction from academic achievements anyway. You love the ocean. Don’t let anyone steal that freedom from you. Learn to ask for help (this goes for the 38 year old writing this to you as well). No one is worth the words that need to come out of you. Never stop writing and never feel bad about loving literature. You can make a game of a stick and a plastic bag and you create worlds out of the thoughts in your mind. You are amazing in the life that flows through you. Love freely and madly, but love yourself first. When you take a risk and end up with a broken heart that feels beyond repair, know that pain needs to flow through you so love can take its place. Muting pain in distractions will only leave a festering wound for later. You’ll heal and the scar tissue makes you stronger in the long run. You can take as many chances at love as you want, but you must do it in the time that feels right to you. Any faster or slower and you’ll miss out on the beauty that love wants to offer you. Volcanic ash leads to fertile soils, but the cost is total devastation first.
Never stop singing and dancing. You don’t have to do it well, but you have to do it because it makes you happy. Sing and dance with your children because your depression will be a burden they will try to carry for you. You have to break the cycle of depression you were born into and that means learning not how to cope, but redirect your reactions in a way that your children can learn healthy choices from your example. Remember how much hurt feelings really do hurt and do your best to think of your children’s fragile feelings because fixing a mistake is so much harder than being mindful in the first place.
Be yourself. One day you’ll realize you prefer the cute boys that are passionate about things that require more mental acuity than physical agility (because slightly geeky is hot) and think of you as smart. You’ll really hate talking to boys that only see you as a face or a body. Try not to give them hell or be so vindictive in hurting their feelings. You can’t expect better of them than they expect of themselves. You were not created to fix anyone else’s Mommy issues.
You have empathy in you and it is the greatest gift. You will be blessed by giving it away. You feel more than most and it gives you deep insight into others. You see the unseen and when you take a moment to tell them they are seen, it brings you pleasure to gauge their reactions. This doesn’t make you responsible for how others feel and you need to release the burdens of the world. Don’t bother watching the news because you will feel the sorrows of the lives shattered and weep with mothers that have lost children. You will learn from everyone that touches your life if you allow your heart to remain open. Your best friend will teach you that you can’t be angry at the ignorant, but you can pity them. You will forgive people for the unimaginable but it will give you freedom and peace. One day you will realize your Uncle was right when he explained we are all children or parents in our relationships and it’s a choice. You will decide you are no longer a child and you will talk to your parents as an adult and that day is when they will start to respect the woman you’ve become. You are not a victim to the life you get to lead.
You will gain so much patience from mothering your children and your tolerance will be high, but you don’t have to be a doormat because you are patient. Stand up for yourself because if you don’t, others will think you’re on the ground for their benefit. At the end of the day, it’s about your perspective and it’s important to let it shift from time to time. You will feel the weight of rejection based on how much you valued the acceptance that you never needed in the first place. You are enough. Just be. Keep your value in your own hands because only you can appreciate it.
You were born to be more than you have been and I’m giving you back the authority you so carefully handed off to others. Your life is your own and it’s time you wear your glass slippers and straighten that damn tiara. I’m the grown up and it’s time I take care of you. It’s time to pick up every fall and check our battered knees. It’s time to tell you that I know it hurts, but we can bandage our own injuries and I can help you through the painful parts because it’s time for you to release them.