A Letter to the Person I Used to Be
Dear Me from Many Moons Ago,
I am not going to lie to you—it’s going to take a while. It’s going to take years until you feel that you are fully, truly, audaciously yourself. Even now as I write this, I still feel the occasional twinge of insecurity, but I’ve learned ways to detach myself from sticking to the shadows for too long.
There will always be people who think you’re never enough. There will always be people who think that you’re too much. Never mind them. Instead, focus on the ones who will be there for you no matter what, including yourself. And girl, let me tell you—it’s going to take years of practice until you learn to love the woman that you will become.
I know what you’re thinking. You feel ugly, inside and out. You feel gross, awkward, weird. You scream when you cry, and you snort when you sniffle as you stifle back those tears. You hate your teeth, that stubborn gap between your incisors and canines, because your orthodontist constantly reminds you it’s “an impossible feat” as he snaps the rubber bands and wire in place over your braces at each appointment. You hate that your hair is so straight and flat you can’t even curl it into the style that you want. You hate that boys only give you attention when they want to cheat off of your scantron sheet on pop quizzes, so you purposely bubble in the wrong answers, only to erase and fill in the correct ones when they stop looking your way.
As you grow into adulthood as a young woman, you are going to suffer through many heartbreaks throughout the years. But you will also learn that your heart is stronger than you think:
When your first boyfriend calls you “boring” to silence your voice after you congratulated him on his graduation, that will slice you deep because you are a passionate soul who thrives on creativity and joy.
When the next guy calls you his “girlfriend” by the second date but then breaks it off with you by the second week, you will realize that he still has ghosts looming over his shoulder.
You won’t even count all the others that you encounter later on as significant—they themselves vanish like the wind, just as cold and dusty as they are fickle.
There will be another who holds your heart after the winds have died down and he will seem like he wants to linger. Half a year of conversations conducted in caresses as he sweeps you up in his arms and kisses your lips when you least expect it. Until out of the blue he decides to slip away from you while conveniently on holiday. The dance of on-again and off-again taps in repeated refrains like a verse stuck in loops on a broken record. Each night you hear the echoes of his footsteps in your dreams when he carelessly throws your heart back at you, and you struggle to catch it before it shatters on the dancefloor.
So you learn to take a few steps back, guarding your heart in your pocket instead of wearing it on your sleeve, until you find the one to whom you can entrust it for safekeeping.
Remember that you will always have the world at your feet each time you step out into the street. There are paths aplenty for you to choose, different corners and avenues stretching beyond the skyline and into the horizon. You get to choose, and that choice is yours alone to make. You weigh your decisions carefully, contemplating the consequences before making a selection, knowing that each of your choices will matter as you design the life you want.
You will ask questions because you have many, and you will become more fierce in your pursuit of the answers over time. You will learn to ask for definitions and you will grow sharper in spotting the inconsistencies, the lies, and omissions of the truth. You will be the one brave enough to speak up for what you want, even if it means the clarity of your voice chases the cowards away. Let them run.
You will learn that you deserve someone who does not treat you as a bandage, or a back-up plan to fill in their void, but rather as a person whose spirit they cherish, whose mind they admire, and whose heart they hold dear. You will learn that you should no longer feel afraid of being alone because you are surrounded by friends and family who are rooting for your happiness, whatever form that joy may be. You will learn that although love can be freely given, trust is still to be earned, and you have the power to command respect from people because of the grace with which you conduct yourself and the gratitude you give back to others.
You will learn that beauty may not always be reflected in a mirror, but rather is a mindset that needs to be nurtured with self-care and openness to innovative ideas. There’s a reason why you turn, time and again to art, literature, and poetry. You want to be perceived as beautiful: you want to be seen, heard, understood, and feel connected to a community that empowers you to answer to a greater calling. And if conventional beauty standards won’t cut it, at least your wit and your words will shine through with your actions.
You will learn, my dear, that you are more resilient than you realize. That you have the power to create worlds and universes with the rise and fall of the breaths you take as you speak your words into existence. All those hopes, desires, and dreams for the future will first take shape as determination mixed in with mistakes, disappointments, and lessons learned until they bend into the upward slopes and peaks of success and wisdom.
You will find yourself reading this again whenever you feel held back by heavy rains pouring down on your soul. These storms will pass and you will soon feel the sun on your skin again. You, my lovely, are going to be fine because you decided your tomorrows will be better than your yesterdays.