In a recent trend, writers all over the internet published letters to their younger selves. I thought they were all (mostly) awesome. They delved deep into what they’d done, how they would change, what would remain the same. They shared inspirations and dreams and why it’s OK when nothing they’d planned in life panned out. There was great advice… to keep going, or stop what they were doing.
For me, a letter to myself, is go on with your bad self.
Chelley of 20,
You did a lot of things in life. You made a lot of mistakes. Like… a lot- a lot. You went into debt numerous time for numerous reasons. You loved too hard or not enough or not the right person- but you did it whole-heartedly. And as you embark on your 30th birthday, 30 years of living, I want you to remember the years you spend trying not to. Trying to die.
I want you to remember that you survived it all for two beautiful children and the unconditional love of a man who is more than you’d imagined him to be when you first laid eyes on him (almost) 12 years ago. You have a house, these 10 years later… a house that you’ll never finish, a family, memories that make it all complete.
At 15, 14, 13… you thought you wanted it to end. And you tried. You always do, and you always will. And sometimes, a blessing thinly veiled to your loved ones, you fail. With the love and strength of your family, they convinced you to do the one thing you hate doing… you quit. You gave up the fight to stop fighting, and started battling out each day.
My letter to my younger self:
Keep doing what you’re doing. It will prepare you for everything that you go through later.
Every boo-boo that you bandage, from paper cuts to surgical incisions… those you’ve done before. Every guy you take in now, every resume you write and cover letter you research for a job that’s not for you, every extra dollar you loan and you’ll never see again, every extra hour you spend awake convincing friends that they are OK- it’s not their fault- you’ll always be there. All the convincing and loving you’ve done for other people is just to prepare you for the place you’ll end up.
Be ready to hurt. And to hurt in the process. To let people down and be let down in ways that will, momentarily, break you to pieces. Be ready to pick up those pieces when no one else comes, and be ready to let other people bear your burden once in a while, too… because those people do, eventually, come into your life. Do not be afraid to ask for help. Be prepared to love and be loved. To be hated, to hate. To be scorned, banished and barred from a life you loved in Providence to a life you will create in another time and place. Be ready to be welcomed with open arms, to be loved- unconditionally- by strangers who will become family.
The Chelley of 20 is not the same of 30. Nor will she be the same at 40 or 50.
But a letter to my younger self…
Just. Be. You.