Dear former self,
I’m writing to let you know things are going to suck for a long time. How’s that for a rosy opener? I’d love to tell you how everything will be great if only you’d follow my sage advice, but we both know you are too stubborn to fall for that. You learn things the hard way.
You will spend most of your life wishing you were somebody else. Trying to drum up the drama in what you deem to be a boring life. The time will come when you realize just how incredible your early years are and there was no need to spice them up with fake storylines, but that time is far in the future. After a successful start to life, things just go sideways. You will surrender to the tide and drift around, lost for nearly a decade. Partying too much. Not caring about the future. Living a superficial existence. Insecurities and depression mount.
You learn to rely on yourself at a very young age. This will be handy when it comes time to navigate airports and foreign countries alone – well done you! It also means that you won’t let others help you: won’t let others in, refuse to show vulnerability, uncertainty or any hint of weakness. This will make you the fun person to hang out with that no one really knows. The longer you go hiding your true self, the harder it becomes to remember who she is.
You reach a point where people look up to you. You climbed the ladder, got the job done and remained cool under pressure – but it came at a price. You will stumble, exhausted, every time you walk into your home at night. Spending all day wearing a mask of composure while you tear yourself to shreds underneath will take its toll on your mental and physical health.
You will smile politely in the boardroom as your area of expertise is mansplained to you. Your ego will drive you towards goals you never wanted to achieve because it is what is expected. You will drive to a remote industrial area so you can park the car and scream your lungs out until tears stream down your cheeks. One day you will wake up wondering if you will ever get your life back.
I’m not here to tell you that you succeed. There is no warm and fuzzy storybook ending here. You see, I have the opportunity to take another path forward and I do not want to screw it up for us. Today, I am writing to you to make you some promises.
I promise to never settle for someone else’s dreams.
I promise to develop my voice and share our stories so other, less stubborn people might benefit.
I promise to embrace vulnerability and uncertainty as I redefine what success is for me.
I promise not to remain cool in situations that require a flame.
Most of all I want to say thank you.
You got us this far former self. Through more crap than I care to relive in this letter. You’ve endured, battled to fatigue and collapsed at this crossroad. It is time for you to rest.
I’m reclaiming this life for the both of us.