I was inspired to write this after reading “What I Know Now: Letters to My Younger Self”. This letter isn’t written to myself at any particular time in my life, since I would still like to consider myself young, despite how my body makes me feel on most days. It is written to my healthy self, however. Honestly, this letter feels oddly personal and raw to me in a way that very little else has.
You know all those times you’d watch TV and worry that maybe you had the same disease as that person on “ER.” Guess what? You didn’t. And you probably never will. And the time that you and everyone else puts off your feeling lousy as stress is the time you really will get kicked in the ass by illness. And it’s going to suck really bad a lot of time. But you’ll get through it. You always do. And you are going to get incredibly ticked off when prime time hospital dramas turn into reality TV for you.
In my eyes, I see the long red hair that you only ever cut out of necessity. You’re a unique mix of Anne of Green Gables and Sandra Bullock’s character in “Miss Congeniality” – stubborn, tempered, smart, emotional, and well, admit it, you’re a pretty big klutz. But when you do things, you do them with your whole heart and that’s an important trait to have.
Not taking risks doesn’t preserve you from danger. It only makes it worse when you are finally felled by some invisible foe that you never imagined.
I think back to that time, I think you were around five then. And you took the train to Toronto and you chronicled the journey on a Sony tape recorder. Even then everyone knew you were going to go places…
One question I keep forcing myself to ask is - would I have been any more prepared for this at another age? And the answer is a resounding no. I think that maybe if I were older and more settled in my life, things might have been easier in some ways, but harder in others. The truth is it would have rocked my foundation no matter what. Sometimes, there are things in life that inevitably make us question the validity of everything we thought we knew.
And now, my demons bear down on me and take many forms. They are the result of a squandered youth. You don’t want to be that person who was always too mature for her age and then end up being forced to really grow up in an instant. But no matter how hard you try, that is what is going to happen.
So I know that technically I’m still my “younger” self, but here’s all the advice and words of wisdom I’m capable of giving…
Think about the last time and place you felt safe and really comfortable in your own skin. Go there in your mind.
Don’t think about the person you want to be, become that person.
When you look back, don’t regret the road not taken. Think of all the lessons you learned along the road you did take. Embrace your fears, your insecurities. Use them to your advantage, don’t let others use you.
You know what, little girl? You came of age in a turbulent world. A world full of uncertainty at every turn. Rather than fear it, embrace the unknown and let it carry you.
But in my heart I know that while it may take time, lots of time, you’re going to be okay!
And while your quiet life in quintessential suburbia tried to shelter you, you soon enough met the world with both its wonders and its flaws.
And someday you will stand taller than your 4’11”.
You are stronger and braver than most people give your credit for.
Don’t judge others in ways you, yourself, don’t want to be judged.
Don’t assume things based on people’s appearances. As you know first hand, appearances can be deceiving.
The path you travel will be a rocky one. But although sporadic, there will be people to cheer you on along the way. It’s easier to listen to the dissenters rather than the cheerleaders, but the cheerleaders will make you strong.
And do me a favor, will you? Before you get too busy with others, think about yourself (for a change).
Don’t be afraid to take risks – not stupid risks, but necessary ones.
The things you will regret most will be the things filed under “peer pressure”. When you followed others and did not listen to yourself, those are the times you wish you could take back. Remember that time you hopped on your bike and tried to churn up dust like Jonathon? You got a nice scar on your knee to prove your valor. And that’s the only scar you’ll have from those days. But trust me, kid, there will be more scars in the future, some you will be able to hide, others not, no matter how hard you try.
I honestly can’t believe I’m saying this, but… REBEL. Do it before it’s too late, before the only rebelling you can do will be going against “doctor’s orders”. Before it actually will impact your life and your health. Don’t go crazy, but do go against the grain, stray from the path once in awhile.
Wear Your Flaws Like A Badge Of Honor.
Your Best and Worst Critic,