A couple of days ago I was wearing a leopard-print jumpsuit and someone commented to me that I wore leopard-print really well. They also commented that they didn’t think they could pull it off. I laughed and told them that confidence comes with age, and when I was in my 30’s I wouldn’t have thought I could wear it either, but now that I’m about to turn 45, I feel like I could pull off (almost) anything. It really got me thinking about how we change as we grow up and how I could share the wisdom I’ve gained through my years, with others. So here you will read a few letters that I would write to my younger self at different points in her life, and maybe if you fall into one of these age groups, it might be helpful for you.
Being a teenager is hard, and there is no way around it, but I want you to know that I acknowledge that. I know you are desperate to fit it yet stand apart; wanting to move away from where you grew up but also craving love and acceptance from those around you; confused about the mixed messages you receive from guidance counsellors, teachers, your parents, your friends, never mind the messages you get from yourself; feeling a deep desire to do big things with your life but not sure where to start, what path to take or how to escape the extreme fear that you will fail. You don’t feel like you fit in anywhere, but you want to fit in everywhere, and sometimes this desire will make you want to do things that you know in your gut are stupid, but you’ll do them anyways. Forgive yourself. Forgive yourself for anything and everything you do, and when you recognize you have gone down a path that doesn’t feel right, turn back. It’s always ok to turn back and create a new path. You’ve never in too deep. And by the way, your parents aren’t the enemy.
You have arguably made it through the hardest part of your life, but I know that to you, it just seems like it’s getting harder. You feel so much pressure to make the right decisions for your future, find a partner, maybe start a family, and you are feeling overwhelmed and uncertain. Know that over your lifetime you will make many decisions about how to support yourself, and you’re not locked into the first one. Remember that you have to work hard to get what you think you deserve; nothing is handed to you. You are not smarter than everyone who has done the job before you, but you are smart. You are smart, and driven, and loyal. You don’t know this right now, but you have the ability to do anything you want to do. Anything. I know you are still doing stupid things to fit in with others and find your forever tribe, but you don’t have to audition for friends. You should let your guard down more often so that the real you attracts the people that are meant to have your back forever. You also need to trust your gut more, because I know once you start doing that, you’ll soar.
I know you think you wasted your 20’s, but there are no mistakes in life, just lessons that we learn from. I know you think you should have it all together now – career, husband, family, a house, money in the bank, retirement savings going, but it’s really ok that you don’t. Life really is an evolution, changing with every passing year. I know you’re struggling with your fertility and wish that you had started trying to have a family sooner, but it’s the wisdom of your experiences that will make you a great parent. I know you fear getting older because when you were young people over the age of 40 seemed really old, but honestly, you’ll love each decade of life even more than the last. I know you still worry about other people’s opinions of you, and in fact it may even be worse than it was when you were younger because it seems like now everyone is comparing what they’ve accomplished and you always feel behind. I wish you could see what I see; someone that is perfectly flawed in all the right ways. Soon, you won’t care about what other people think and it’s so freeing. That sense of anxiety you’ve developed will almost disappear once you realize that you are the one that gets to write your story, not other people. All that matters is that YOU believe you are strong, worthy, brave, and beautiful. Say those words to yourself every single day because I want you to believe them sooner than I did. Never apologize for who you are.
40 year old self
You are not wrecking your kids, I promise. Every parent feels like they are failing, but as long as you’re doing your best (and I know you are) and you keep telling them how much you love them, your kids will be fine. It’s time to start nourishing your relationship with your husband again. Let’s be honest, he’s been on the back burner since you’ve had children, but he’s the one who will be there when they eventually move out so put in the work now. You also need to start taking better care of yourself. Taking time for yourself doesn’t make you selfish; it will make you a better mother and wife. Time is not slipping away from you, and you still have time to follow your dreams. I know you thought you’d be so much further ahead by now, but you have accomplished SO MUCH. And you will accomplish so much more. Reimagine your five- and ten-year goals and start working them hard. It will help if you clear away all the things in your life that aren’t serving you anymore. It’s time to only surround yourself with people that you deeply cherish and make your heart sing. P.S. You are amazing.
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