#1: To My Younger Self
You are so very lucky. You have a family who adores you and wants nothing but the best for you. I know it was really hard to lose so many people so close to you in such a short time, but you still have a family, and particularly grandparents who you are close to, and you won’t regret one moment you spend with them. Learn about that part of your family, ask even more questions than you already do, take all of that in. It’s important to know where you come from, and one day, that will serve you well.
Your mom will always be your best friend. Don’t take that for granted. And while it’s true you don’t get to pick your parents, you truly lucked out in the mom department. You’ll learn about the kind of person you want to be from her. You’ll come to understand she always tried to do the right thing by you, and she did so much better than most. Don’t fall into the trap of comparing yourself and your family with others. The truth is, she could have kept you in a family situation with your father, but that would have meant a life of misery and discord. You’ll learn about him on your own, and when you do, you’ll understand why it was necessary for her to get both of you out.
Your relationship or lack thereof with your father is going to take some time to resolve. It will be hard, it will be debilitating, and it will forever shape how you see yourself, but you’ll come to a point where you realize it was a relationship that never had a chance. You’ll go on to do some really good things in life, and it won’t matter to him, and that will be okay because by that time, his opinion won’t matter to you. You’ll know it’s his failing and not yours. Remember through it all, he’s not a bad person, he simply never knew how to be a dad to an independent daughter.
The man in your mom’s life now, will become the dad she so wants for you. It won’t happen overnight, and there won’t be a huge public declaration of love and belonging, but in a moment when he’ll need someone’s help, you’ll be that someone. He’ll tell a complete stranger something he can’t say to you – that he already considers you part of his family. He will always show his love by example instead of by words, and you need to learn to be okay with that, because as important as words are to you, they are fleeting and deeds are not.
Love and appreciate your family for what they will bring to your life. Cherish them, support them, love them, participate with them, but don’t ever lose your connection with them. Shared history is so important and you’ll never have with anyone else in the world what you have with them.
Boys aren’t everything. But the right one could add so much to your life. You have to let your guard down and trust someone, though, because if you always keep people at arm’s length, you’ll never have a meaningful relationship that will last. You also need to learn about compromise in an intimate relationship because not everything can be your way. It’s okay to fall in love and sacrifice a bit of your independence to make him happy. It doesn’t make you weak to not maintain control over every relationship. It’s important for everyone to feel needed and that includes the man you’re in a relationship with, so even though you can do something for yourself, doesn’t mean you have to, or even should.
It doesn’t matter how good you are at what you do, if you don’t keep certain people happy, you won’t succeed. That might be your boss, your customer, the people you serve. Don’t ever sacrifice your morals or ethics for anyone, but there are times when you should keep your mouth shut, no matter how right you are. You’ll be tempted to forget this because of friendships, but a boss who tries to use you to undermine others, will undermine you when it suits their purpose. Always remember what Maya Angelou said: When people show you who they are, believe them the first time.
Your friends will be your saving grace. There will be reason, season, and lifetime friends and they will all bring something to your life. There will also be friendships you regret. It won’t mean there’s something wrong with you, it means you learn a lesson about the kind of people you don’t want in your life, versus the kind of people you do. True friends will not tear you down or make you feel less than. They will build you up, support and empower you, and love you even when you aren’t at your best. They’ll remind you about all of the good things, when you can’t remember for yourself. You won’t always agree, but you’ll always stand by each other.
You’ll choose a profession that will appeal to your sense of justice and rightness in the universe. It won’t be an easy road, but it’ll be worth it. And you’ll be good at it, and you’ll make a difference. There will come a time, though, that the toll on you will be so great, you’ll have to face some harsh realities and make some tough choices. It will forever change you and how you relate to other people, but don’t lose your faith and never lose hope. Your attitude is everything.
Always be humble. There are things you’ll be amazing at, and things you won’t. Self-confidence and humility are not mutually exclusive, embrace both of them. Learn to accept praise or gratitude with grace. You are not an island, you don’t live in a bubble. You cannot do everything by yourself, and other people have the same desire to be needed and useful. The support and love you give to others will come back to you tenfold.
There will be times when you feel so sad, it’ll seem as though you’ll never be happy again. Trust me, you will. In your life, sadness will be temporary. Things will happen and life will never be the same for you and the people you love, but you’ll find a new normal and that will include joy and goodness and light. That being said, you would do well to appreciate what you have when you have it, and who you have while they’re in your life. Nothing is permanent.
Lastly, you’ll make bad decisions, you’ll jump to conclusions. Your choices won’t always be the right ones. You’ll lose out, you’ll disappoint others and be disappointed. You won’t always be on your best behavior and sometimes you’ll be unfair to others. On occasion you’ll take the easy way out. You’ll hurt others, you’ll upset people, and you’ll do things you’ll wish you could take back. Despite all of it, you’ll still be a good person. You’ll defend the underdog, give a voice to those who don’t have one, give strength, provide support, and be there for people in some of their darkest days. There will be things you could have done better, but so many more things that you’ll get right. Appreciate all of it. You’ll be beautifully flawed, as you should be. At the end of the day remember, the most important thing about you is how you treat other people and what good you bring to this world.
Be happy. Love your life and yourself. Be grateful and humble. Appreciate other people and handle them with care until they give you a reason not to, and maybe still then. In most cases, being generous is so much more important than being right. A kind word, an unexpected gesture, an act of unselfishness, a show of love can make all the difference to someone and costs you so very little. Be better than you think you should, kinder than you think you can, and more compassionate than you think you ought to be. Learn from your past, be excited about your future, but live in the present.
You are enough just like you are.
with much love,