Letters to Me

Dear Me,

No, this isn’t your past self, or your future self, or some self that is hidden deep beneath the folds that only comes out on Sunday afternoons. (Though, if you catch wind of that third one, you should probably get that checked out) No, this is you, right now, in your current state. Hey.

I’m writing to tell you that you’re unhappy. You are. And even though it’s not the kind of unhappiness that cripples you, it’s still prominent, and you need to address it.

You need to make changes. Big and small. And you need to be brave.

First off, you need to get a new job. The one you have right now just isn’t cutting it.  I know, I know, this is a touchy subject. But it’s arguably the most important. You’ve been at this job for almost 10 years now and it’s been great. You’ve learned a lot. More than you realize sometimes. And you are grateful for everything everyone here has done for you. They’ve watched you grow up. They congratulated you when you graduated college and encouraged you when you started to pursue writing. But they also look at you, they wonder—or at least that’s what you assume—they want to ask you, but they don’t: how long will you be here?

This is a family business after all. It’s been passed down three generations and you would be a logical choice for number four. But you don’t want it. You don’t want to stay here and carry on, no matter how noble or nostalgic that may seem. Maybe you’ll inherit it and keep it running in your name. Maybe you’ll be the face behind the scenes, but you don’t want to stay here. You don’t want to exist only here.

No.

You want—no—you need to get out of here. Because as much as you can survive here, you’ll never thrive. And that’s what stewing deep down inside you: the need to thrive.

You’ve felt it for a while now, but you couldn’t quite make out what it was. You have come to work frustrated and short-tempered and gone home regretful and confused. It’s not this place. It hasn’t changed. It hasn’t declined. You’ve just grown. These old clothes are too small now, and you need to buy some new ones.

Secondly, you need to start failing harder.

I know you have dreams. Big ones. Some bigger than you’d dare say out loud. You get that feeling in your stomach, like you’re really meant to do something good. Something that sticks. Start following that feeling because none of it is out of your reach. Start making big scary jumps alongside the small safe steps. Try hard, fail harder, and then succeed infinitely.

Write your dreams down. All of them. Even that one. You’ve been thinking about it for years. It’s time you stopped pretending like you don’t want it more than anything.

Thirdly, you need to you remember me—you.

You need to remember that you are equally as worthy of the kindness and patience and respect you so desperately try to give to everyone else and you need to remember that there’s no shame in admitting that. You need to remember that to do all the things you want to do—to find happiness, to make your dreams come true, to thrive—you need to be you. To love you, for you. Because that’s the only way you make it out of here. Out of this place you wrote this. Out of this secret unhappiness. You need to admit you’re unsatisfied and then you need to do something about it.

I recommend you start now.

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Letters to Little One

Breathe in the Now

Dear Little One,

Sometimes I struggle with anxiety. And when it hits, there are times I understand why and times I haven’t the slightest idea. I’m working on it, but sometimes it still feels bigger than me.

I’m not sure if this is something you’ll struggle with. I hope not. Though I feel as though we all do in some from, be it with anxiety or healthy doses of nerves and worry. Regardless of where you stand, I hope you know you can talk to me, and that you’re going to be okay.

Right now, I’m reading this book called OCD, the Dude & Me and in it the main character has OCD which is heightened when she gets overwhelmed. And while she can do little in the way of stopping her brain from initially becoming overwhelmed, she describes a technique on how to cope from there. She says that sometimes we’ll worry about the future and sometimes we’ll worry about the past, and in that worry we’ll send ourselves to those places, thus disconnecting ourselves from the present and making it much harder to calm down. To counteract this, she says her therapist tells her to breathe. Breathe and put your hand over your heart so you can feel it beating. Because that breath and those steady beats, those are now. They are your proof that you are here, now. You are no longer in the past and not yet in the future, so stop worrying about then and there. Take comfort in what you have now and move forward.

Keep breathing, Little One, and I’ll do the same.

See you soon.

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Letters to Little One

Always, Always, Always, Capable

Dear Little One,

Always always always remember you are capable. You are capable of doing everything and you are capable of doing nothing. You are capable of saying yes and saying no. You are capable of thinking and dreaming and producing and achieving. You are capable of failing and you are capable of trying again. You are capable of standing up and you are capable of surrendering. You are capable of loving and hating and choosing which one to turn to. You are capable of smiling and frowning and crying and laughing. You are capable of helping and turning your back and apologizing. You are capable of anything you set your mind to, and an infinite amount more outside of what you can imagine. You are capable of all this at once and yet sometimes you’ll still feel small, and that’s okay.

 

See you soon.

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Letters to Little One

Help the Sinking, Stay Afloat

Dear Little One,

In training to be a lifeguard, you learn how to control a chaotic, often life-threatening situation. When people are drowning or in fear of drowning, they are desperate for help, and it is your job to get to them, relax them and bring them to safety.

In learning to be a good friend, we are often faced with many of the same situations as a lifeguard, though they often exist on much more figurative planes. Life consistently throws the unexpected at us, knocking us down, pushing us under the water, and while we often try to teach ourselves to swim the best we can, we often rely on our friends to save us when things get too hard.

As a friend, we learn to hold our breath, we learn to paddle and to kick. We learn to stay calm when the person we are trying to save is too panicked to realize they may be drowning us too. Yes, as a friend we do all of these things, because oftentimes we are the only ones who will. However, we must always connect to the fact that we are not just a friend. We are not solely a lifeguard on duty during someone else’s swim. We too are swimming and we too are trying our best to stay afloat. So while we must always keep ourselves open and available to lend a hand when we are needed, we must also take note of where we are in the water.

So, Little One, I ask you to remember this: Love hard enough to want to save the ones around you from sinking, but make sure they put in as much time to help you float.

 

See you soon.

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Letters to Little One

Generous With What We Cannot See

Dear Little One,

Ever since I was little I was encouraged to be generous, to share, to give. And as I’ve grown up, I’ve noticed how often I associate those words with tangible things. I’ve shared toys. I’ve given presents. I’ve been generous with my money. But now, perhaps more than ever, I’m starting to believe that what the world needs more than anything is our generosity with the things we cannot see.

We need to be generous with our hearts, both in loving those who love us and those who don’t.

We need to be generous with our voices, using them to identify what needs to be changed and giving them to those who have had theirs taken away.

We need to be generous with our time, giving it to people not things.

We need to be generous with our hope, passing it along to those who have been given no reason to hold onto their own.

The world needs so much more than money and things, and you are worth so much more than your supply of either. So when you’re looking for ways to be generous, you need look no further than inside of yourself. Chances are if you look there first, the gift will be far greater than anything you could have given blindly out of your pocket.

 

See you soon.

 

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Letters to Little One

Let’s Get Lost

Dear Little One,

I recently finished reading a book called “Let’s Get Lost” by Adi Alsaid and I wanted to tell you about it. Not to spoil it, just to let you know what it taught me. The basic premise is that a girl named Leila is going on a road trip to see the Northern Lights. The book is divided into 5 sections, each one dedicated to a person Leila meets and the adventures they embark on in their short time together.

As I read through the book, I came to a very important realization: there are lives happening all around us. This may seem obvious, but I think it’s really easy to get wrapped up in our own problems and forget. You never really know the type of day that someone is having or how much impact a little kindness can have on a person for the rest of their day or even their life.

One of my favorite quotes I got from the book was: “I urge you to please notice when you are happy.” A character quotes this line from Kurt Vonnegut’s book, A Man Without a Country, near the beginning of the book and it stuck with me to the end. Once I finished, I looked up the quote and found that in its entirety Vonnegut states: “And I urge you to please notice when you are happy, and exclaim or murmur or think at some point, ‘If this isn’t nice, I don’t know what is.’”

It’s a simple request really. To just notice those moments that feel whole. Peaceful. Great. So I encourage you to do so. For even in the mere days since I’ve finished the book, I’ve found myself among more happy moments than I could tell you about in this letter. It’s funny how when you open your heart to feeling happiness, your eyes are far more prepared to discover it around you.

 

See you soon.

 

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Letters to Little One

Bird Set Free

Dear Little One,

The great thing about music is that it finds a way to tell you things you already know, but in a way that finally makes sense. I suppose this goes for all art really, which is why I love it so much and constantly feel the need to share it with you.

Today I bring you “Bird Set Free” by Sia. She is one of the most artistic and unique musicians I’ve ever heard, and it is my hope that she continues creating for a long time. I fell in love with this particular song the moment I heard it, as it came to me on a day that I needed it more than I knew.

The chorus goes:

I don’t care if I sing off key

I’ll find myself in my melody

I sing for love

I sing for me

I’ll shout it out like a bird set free.

The premise of the song, or what I understand about it, is that we all have a voice or a “scream” inside ourselves, and throughout our lives we’ve either been prevented sharing it or were too afraid to use it. This fear stems from the voice’s potential to be a weapon. To the world, it is a weapon that could speak terrifyingly necessary truths. To us, it is a weapon that could leave us far more vulnerable than we feel comfortable with.

This is what I love about the chorus.  Leading up to it Sia explains that the voice we are trying to hide is eating us alive and that holding onto it is preventing us from truly living.

For me, I’m very aware of all of the things I keep hidden inside; the fear of judgement or imperfection can be crippling. But what I love about this song is that it encourages you to share your voice even if it’s not perfect, because the fact is, you’re the one who needs to get it out. It shouldn’t matter what other people think of it because they weren’t the ones suffering in silence for so long.

She ends the chorus with perhaps the most meaningful line, a promise to not only speak her voice, but to shout it. To free herself from the cage she’s been in, whether it be stranger made or self-built, and fly into the world anew.

I hope you find this song when you too need it most.

See you soon.

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