Growing Older and Nurturing Your Younger Self
Thanks to the way our brains are wired, we tend to focus on the negative. Painful life experiences stick out at us like Gertrude (your ever-persisting zit, making a constant return to your forehead). We find it easier to recall proof of how we haven’t changed for the better and repeat memories that show us we haven’t grown.
Yet, that’s not the truth. Not the whole of it, at least.
This exercise is meant to hold up a mirror to your current self. It’s a mirror that reflects all of the awesomeness, love, light, growth, and expansion you are.
It’s a letter to a younger version of yourself. Search for pain points in your past and then find proof of how you’ve overcome them through having taken “terriexcitifyng” action (as the wonderful Allegra Stein) calls it.
I hope you’ll join me in (re)discovering you already are the person you once wished you could be.
Here’s the letter I wrote to my 11 year-old self.
I am writing to you to let you know you can let go. You can let go of all the false beliefs you have about yourself. You can let go of the insanely harsh expectations you hold yourself to. Because you know what? It will all be okay. You’ll be okay. Let me tell you a little bit of what you will create in your future.
I know you lay awake at night hoping not to die. I know you make crazy promises to “God” and odd riddles in your head to trick death away. I know sometimes being alone in the house at night is terrifying. In your 20’s you will camp by yourself. In the middle of nowhere. All alone. And you know what’s even crazier? You’ll enjoy it! You’ll still be afraid. But you are brave, because you take action in spite of fear still knocking at your door. You’ll be good at greeting fear, acknowledging it, thanking it, and letting it kindly know you’re not interested in what it’s trying to sell.
I know you feel inadequate when it comes to sports right now. You feel like you aren’t an athlete and are less than others. You won’t believe what you will have trained your way to in your 20’s! You can deadlift, bench, and squat, a lot (I won’t tell you exactly how much because I want it to be a surprise for you)! You’ll learn to rock climb, indoors and outdoors. You will even ski an EX double black diamond! Say whaaaaattt?? Embrace who you are and keep working hard. Remember how hard you worked at volleyball practice when cute Elia was watching? Yeah? Good, now I want you to keep working that hard. Continue impressing yourself.
I know you don’t think you’re that smart. I know you are currently working extremely hard at your 5th grade graduation project. You are putting in so much work and I am so proud of you. The thoughts around not being smart enough won’t really go away. But you will learn and grow so much! You will go to a hard language-focused high school. On top of that, you will go to college and graduate with two degrees! You are smart, my love. Use this self-awareness to fuel you to keep getting better and learning more. Every single day.
I know you don’t find yourself that fashionable right now. Maybe it’s all the mismatched hand-me downs and tight budget—we’ll blame it on that, k? In all seriousness though, remember when you wore all pink to school that one day? Bright, tight, pink three-quarter sleeve shirt with holes on the shoulders, paired with light pink pants with dark pink flowers on them, the hot pink leg warmers, and (of course), your Tigers? I mean, how could you forget, lol. You know what I love about that? You experimented! You dressed in what felt good to you. In your 20’s you’re coming back to that. And it’s fun! Sometimes you wear stuff and then you’re like “nooot doing that again!” and other times you think, “wow! This feels good. It feels like me!” Keep experimenting and finding what feels good to you.
I know you seek answers in other people. You look at what others are drawing, doing, wearing, etc. to see where you should go next. Well, even in your 20’s, you stiiiill tend to do this. You tend to think that others hold the answers to your questions. They don’t. You hold all of the answers within you. You’re slowly discovering this. Implementing it in bite size pieces. You’re learning to go inward when searching for the truth. And your strongest answer and truth of all is LOVE. You are so good at it. I love you for it. Keep it up.
So, dearest Stephy, little pumpkin, principessa mia. You’re doing just fine. You will learn to thrive instead of survive. The dark times will pass. Choose to see your rocky past as the iron striking and forging you into a stronger human being.
Oh, before I go, remember your first ever email address? Of course you do. You and aunty Cindy picked it out together. “Stephyambitious.” Stephy, you’re ambitious. Embrace it. Own it. Ambition is one of your truths. And don’t ever, ever apologize for it.
This is what I claim for you: "Stop playing so small. You are the universe in ecstatic motion.” -Rumi
With a fuckton of love and pride in you,
25 Year-Old Steph
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