The other day, I was having dinner with my best friend who I’ve known for almost 25 years. (Yea, I’m that old.)
We started talking about how we’ve changed and how we used to be when we were younger and it got me thinking about all the things I know now that I wish I would have known when I was younger to save me from so many years of struggles and insecurities.
While I can’t go back in time and actually tell these things to myself, I decided to write them out as a letter to my younger self.
Dear Younger Self,
I wish there was a way for me to go back in time and protect you from all the pain you are going to experience in the coming years. It’s going to be really hard for a long time but I promise you’ll make it through.
Here are a few things I wish I could tell you in person:
Don’t compare your journey to other people’s journey.
Your beginning is going to look way different from someone else’s middle or end. Even your middle will look different from their middle.
Everyone is on a different path going at different times and different speeds so there is no point in comparing your progress with someone else. You will make your own progress in your own time.
Plus, there’s that old saying “Comparison is the killer of joy” and it’s totally true.
Learn to let things go.
Holding on to anger and other negative emotions does more harm than good. That negativity will just eat you up inside.
Let go of negativity. Let go of grudges. It’s not productive and will only make you feel terrible.
Talk to people.
This is more than just having a conversation with someone. This is communicating how you feel instead of letting feelings stew.
Don’t be petty and talk one way to someone and then talk another way behind their back. Don’t say anything about someone that you wouldn’t say to their face.
Stand up for yourself.
If someone says something to you that you don’t like, tell them. You deserve respect and if someone disrespects you, you have to let them know. Just today, a co-worker talked down to me and I immediately told him not to talk to me like an idiot instead of getting angry and not doing anything about it.
Stop caring so much about other people’s opinions.
Seriously. Just stop. You don’t have to hide parts of yourself or make excuses for things just because you’re afraid of how people will react. Their opinion doesn’t matter in the long run and conforming to their expectations will only make you unhappy.
And you know whose opinions really doesn’t matter? Boys. Oh my god. Who cares what boys think?! Don’t do anything for boys, do it for yourself. Wear makeup for yourself. Don’t wear makeup for yourself. Shave your legs for yourself or don’t shave your legs. Your opinion is the only one that matters.
You are a feminist.
Don’t resist calling yourself that because you’re afraid of what people will think. (See last piece of advice.) Anyone who thinks less of you because you’re a feminist isn’t worth your time (and they probably don’t even understand what feminism really is.)
Don’t laugh at sexist/racist/homophobic/transphobic/islamophobic/etc jokes because they aren’t funny. Don’t tiptoe around people because they might call you a “feminazi.” (That’s not a thing!)
Call people out when they act like assholes. It’s hard, especially when it’s people you consider your friends, but it’s better than staying silent and allowing problematic behavior to continue.
Female friendships are the shit.
Don’t be one of those people who “aren’t like other girls” because that’s insulting to other girls and you know what, girls are amazing! Nothing is better than having a few close female friendships that help you get through all of life’s ups and downs.
Make travelling a priority.
Sure, saving money for travelling is hard, especially when it’s so easy to spend money on little things, but travelling is worth it. And travelling is fun. (And New York City is not as scary as people like to make it out to be.)
Experiences are better than things so skip buying all those DVDs and save that money for concerts, road trips, and vacations.
Be unapologetically you.
You are constantly growing and changing and finding out who you are so don’t ever shy away from that. Who you are now is different from who you will be in two months and that person is different from who you will be in two years.
Don’t be afraid to show the world who you are every step of the way.
Now, if only I could actually tell you these things instead of writing a hypothetical letter to you.
Go do great things.