A Letter To My Younger Self

Redirecting The Emotions Of Early Adulthood

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“We must be our own before we can be another’s” — Ralph Waldo Emerson

Dear Dan,

I know it seems like things are never settled. Like God won’t make up his mind on what plan to begin carrying out with you.

The constant change. The turmoil. The challenges. The difficulties.

I know it’s hard right now.

Even harder, I know that you’re not entirely certain on what you want — in any area of your life for that matter.

I’m going to let you in on a secret right now, though.

This is the biggest secret you’ve ever learned.

Are you ready?

You’re doing it to yourself.

I say that out of love. I really do.

The problems you’re experiencing in life right now are almost entirely conjured up through your own metaphoric magnifying glass.

In life, sometimes things just happen. You can deem them good or bad if you like. You can also choose whether to focus on the liability or the opportunity that each presents.

What you may not realize right now however, is what’s keeping you from a fulfilling life (and even absorbing the message in this letter) is your defense mechanism.

Your defense mechanism, or the “show” you put on to get by in life, is what stops you from experiencing all the bliss. All the beauty around you gets overlooked when you allow this mode to take over. You’ve gotten so used to it at this point, you may even think that how you behave on a daily basis is actually who you are.

However, your personality isn’t fixed. You’re not an object.

You’re a fluid, transformative being that’s caught in a trap of your mind trying to keep you afloat. It’s not designed to make you happy; it’s designed to keep you alive.

When you see red after something or someone upsets you, I want to tell you that’s not you.

When you hold back to introduce yourself or refrain from showing up to a date, that’s not you either.

You don’t have to identify with that. That’s not you in a million years.

Stop generalizing so much and accept that you’re an imperfect human being with a brain designed to protect you from perceived harm, shame or embarrassment.

It wants to talk you out of shit, and it desperately wants to make sense of everything.

Right now, you’re experiencing an overwhelming need to stay consistent with who you think you are and an overwhelming need to be right or justified about everything.

I get that you don’t want to look stupid.

I get that you want be sure of everything before you try it.

Moreover, I get that you’re scared and will do everything in your power not to let anyone know it.

But please, just PLEASE, try stepping out of that for a change.

Try something else on. Because all that you’re trying to avoid, all that you’re holding back from and containing, all that’s beneath the surface, is what’s going to get you everything you’ve ever wanted.

To be yourself in a world that is constantly trying to make you something else is the greatest accomplishment. — Ralph Waldo Emerson

Love. Joy. Respect. Appreciation. Meaning. Significance. Purpose.

Oh, and freedom. You’re don’t have to be a certain or specific way.

I know you’re working hard to make something of yourself right now and I applaud your commitment. But the source of what’s driving your actions isn’t deep enough. It’s not nearly powerful enough to cultivate what you want it to.

You want to grow in your career, in your finances, in your relationships, and in your community because you feel like you have to. I don’t care whether you tell me you want to live up to the “potential” that people say you have or that you want to make Mom and Dad proud.

I’m here to tell you that’s not enough.

You’re still on the defense of something: other people’s opinions.

There’s no need for that. You’re missing all the little miracles every day as you go about “getting things done”.

But I’ll tell you what is enough…


The real you.

The you that’s terrified to screw it up. The you that wants nothing more than to give and receive love. The you that really feels and empathizes with someone that’s suffering or less fortunate. The you that somehow manages to look up to the sky when he’s feeling his absolute lowest. The you that isn’t perfect at anything and never will be.

That right there, more of him, is what the world needs.

So go be that guy. Strip away the protective equipment and put yourself out there. Because if you want to receive anything in life, you have to give it.

I’m proud of you, for the man you are and the man you’ll become.

You’re not perfect.

Never will be.

And that’s perfect.

Thank You For Reading!

Time is everything and I sincerely appreciate you giving yours to read.

If you liked this article, you can clap up to 50 times and help me extend my voice — I love people and want to lift more of them up.

Originally published at

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