Sometimes I wonder what I might say to my former, less secure, younger self if I had the chance.
Would I warn myself about one-sided relationships? Would I advocate for self-love and more confidence? Would I talk about how much I wish I’d focused on learning rather than achievement? Would I tell myself to follow my dreams at all costs?
I look back at years of lessons learned the hard way and wonder what I might have done differently if I knew then what I now know.
Of course, even if I could go back and speak to that person, would the younger me even listen? Probably not. After all, she thought she knew everything. And in the words of Elizabeth Gilbert, “You don’t know until you know.”
But we can't go back. There's no way to change what's already done, but we can use the lessons of the past to avoid repeating the same mistakes today. We can use what we've gone through to help us forge the path forward.
I began to think about what I would say to my former self that might reverberate to who I am now. What if we can take those lessons to heart in a way we couldn't before?
I don’t know about you, but sometimes the girl I once was creeps up inside of the woman I am now. I see glimpses of her, and while I admired the strength she had, I want to tell her that life does get better eventually. Harder--but better. She will be made stronger by what happens, and the struggle will bring her straight to the life she's always wanted. I wonder sometimes what my future self might whisper back to me--if that version of myself might assure me that the struggle I'm experiencing now will bring me to everything I ever wanted.
I hear the fears and insecurities of my former self and remember the security blanket of stories she carried around long after she should have grown out of them. Maybe if I say what I needed to hear then, I’ll hear it now on those days that are tough, when my younger self whispers at the edges of my life.
I began to think of the essential truths that are universal to us all. I began to wonder how to abbreviate years of experience into small lessons that might communicate powerful ideas. What did I need to know then? What do I need to remember now to become the person I want to be? It's an interesting idea.
So, I began exploring what I need most right now and then began to work backward. I thought about family and relationships, about school and careers. I thought about our relationships with ourselves and with others and what we could learn that might make the world a little better, a little kinder, and a little more loving. I wanted to communicate to myself and to others some simple truths that are oh-so-easy to forget in our busy lives.
So here are 50 letters to both our former selves and the people we are today.
Dear Us of Then and Now:
- Be brave.
- Speak your truth.
- Say no and don't explain.
- Say yes to what you want.
- Let go.
- Live in love.
- Respond, not react.
- Be authentically yourself.
- Find your kindred spirits--the people who let you be yourself.
- Accept reality, but be the change when you can.
- Lean into the moment, and be present.
- Stop resisting change.
- Rest—don’t quit.
- Be kind more.
- Learn to forgive.
- Enforce firm boundaries.
- Seek balance.
- Live your dreams, and chase your bliss.
- Break some rules.
- Appreciate your education.
- Don't worry about what other people think about your life. They don't get a vote.
- See challenges as opportunities.
- Invest in friendships.
- Don’t loan money to anyone; you are not a bank.
- Give when you can--without strings.
- Build your savings.
- Live an active lifestyle.
- Trust your intuition.
- Prioritize your overall wellness.
- You are enough.
- Love yourself more.
- Stop people-pleasing.
- Share your struggle.
- Ask for help when you need it.
- Go to therapy. Seriously. Everyone needs it. It could change your life.
- Take responsibility for your life, and be accountable.
- Just keep going.
- Slow down.
- Forgive yourself.
- Create art.
- Worry less.
- Love more.
- Accept your imperfections--and celebrate yourself anyway.
- Trust that everything works out.
- Take more vacations.
- Say the thing you need to say.
- Speak with kindness and from a place of love.
- Be more vulnerable.
- Laugh more.
Sincerely with love,
All of Us