What would I tell my 15- or 21- or 25-year-old self? Oh, all the things I know now.
It’s bittersweet to look back at who I was and see how every step helped me into who I was becoming. I wish I could go back and give younger me a hug because years later, specific memories still take me back to those raw feelings. I was an emotional and misunderstood teenager and a dreamy and careless college kid.
I’m still working on letting go of all the things I wish I did or didn’t do. It’s hard to be appreciative of the struggles, but I’m glad I can look back on them and see the good in how it ended. We’re constantly becoming the best version of ourselves, hopefully.
If I could appear to my younger self at different ages, these are the things I would tell myself. I probably wouldn’t quite understand or appreciate what future me had to say, but I like to think it would be a comfort to know someone knew how I felt. Sometimes I still need to be reminded of some of these things. 🙂
Things I Would Tell My Younger Self
You are loved, even when you’re not sure of it. The strict environment you were raised in is what your parents thought was the best way. It’s hard to understand and appreciate their sacrifices and customs at times but know it is out of love and loyalty. It’ll make you cautious and ambitious, but what is given to you is a blessing that will give you a foundation for the rest of your life. Even so, you are more than your grades and you are good enough.
It’s ok to have these feelings and ok to express them. You’re allowed to be disappointed. You can give the silent treatment, but it’s much more satisfying and clearer to use your voice. Be proud of who you are and where you came from. Don’t let other people decide your worth for you. Don’t let their fears shadow your power.
The right person will come along, even though you’ll feel heartache from the ones you thought didn’t care enough. Each person you date will teach you something, whether it’s friendship, individuality, passion, or carelessness. That feeling of fear and loneliness is you learning how to be your own person. You don’t need someone to complete you and you will never find enough love to sustain you by chasing after him. One day, you’ll find a partner who loves and respects you, and you’ll know. One day, you’ll look back at those relationships and smile.
Don’t quit the piano. Spend more time in the kitchen with your mom. Don’t be afraid to write your feelings down. Save more money. Alcohol is overrated. Keep reading books.
People come in and out of your life. It will hurt a lot. You will lose best friends, from your doing and their doing. It is something you will continually regret, fear, and work through, but it will challenge you to be a better friend and person. You can’t fix all problems, but you can keep yourself accountable and be brave enough to speak up.
Be brave. You don’t know if you don’t ask and it’s ok to not know. Don’t stop asking questions and looking for ways to dream bigger. There are a million possibilities for your future and YOU get to decide. The world needs your talents, your passion, and your heart.
You, young thing, believe in this holy grail, this exact moment in life where a switch is flipped and life is smooth sailing from here. In this moment, you’ll feel successful and completely enough. There will be moments throughout your life where you’ll feel this. You’ll think “this is it, life is perfect,” and it’s beautiful to appreciate those moments and seasons. But life will not be perfect. It’s a constant roller coaster. The only constant is change, and your goal is to do the work, see the good, and keep hoping for the best. It’s like this passage I read in a book recently, “I operated as if there’d be a verdict. An easy answer. A story. I operated as if we were setting the tone for the rest of our lives. It did not occur to me that we could simply muddle through. Learn as we go. Change things later. Forgive ourselves.”
So, forgive yourself. All the moments in life bring you here, in the present, and it might not feel like it now, but it gets better. (Or you get stronger, wiser, and more appreciative.) The future won’t be exactly how you imagined it. You’ll find peace for your past and somehow, you’ll be right where you need to be. You are worthy of the good things making their way to you.
What would you tell your younger self?