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

The Knowing & the Doing

Dear Little One,

As I’ve grown up, I’ve found it continually harder to be anything except myself. The hard part now is letting go of the fear behind letting that person be seen and heard. But, as I learned in the pursuit of the first, I know the key to the second is to keep trying, to give it time, and to tell the truth.

Though somehow I have a feeling that the knowing won’t make the doing any easier.

I’ll let you know how it goes.

 

See you soon.

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Letters to Little One

To be Loved

Dear Little One,

Growing up, I watched a lot of kinds of love grow and die. And as I went about my own life, I was introduced to many of its relatives, both honest and fake.  I found it in family, I found it in friends, I found it in church, but I longed for the day when I’d come face to face with the love that everyone is always talking about. I knew it was out there waiting for me, as it is for everyone, and that I’d just have to be patient in my search, but some days were harder than others to do so.

When I was little, I saw the love as a fairytale. It was a type of magic I couldn’t wait to get my hands on. There would be sunsets and dresses and sparkly things, birds chirping and people singing. As I got older, the picture changed. The magic was still there, but maturity morphed its boundaries and shaped its face.

It wasn’t until I reached high school that I started to wonder if it was even in the cards for me at all. I was in the heat of adolescence, reaching out for any sort of steady self-esteem, but all I seemed to find were the slippery fingers of those more perfect than I’d ever be. They looked at me with subconscious pity, assuring me love was around the corner, and I watched them walk away into the magic.

In the years that followed, my self-doubt spread like wildfire throughout my entire body. Nothing about me seemed interesting or unique or beautiful. There were days when I’d spend hours getting ready, solely because I felt as if nothing made me look good enough to deserve the kind of love I longed for.

“I’ll never look like her.”

“I’ll never have what she has.”

“I’ll never be as interesting or witty or funny.”

Eventually, I convinced myself that the magic I once dreamed of was simply not for me. It just wasn’t something I was going to have because I was never going to be good enough. That became my truth and the conversations about love with my friends were the lies. The hopes and dreams I had for the future were simply fabrications that made conversations flow. That love was for them, not me.

But that’s not true, is it?

That’s not true for anyone.

We are all worthy of the love we imagine. We just have to imagine it truthfully, for who are as individuals. Because the truth is, no one is going to be loved the same way, because we are not the same people. We can’t hope to be loved for being someone else because we are no one else but ourselves.

Amongst the lies told by my self-doubt, was the one that told me love was something I would give, but not receive. The idea of someone standing in their best dressed, asking me to marry them, was laughable. Why would someone love me? How would anyone ever fall in love with me?

These past two years, I have finally been able to find the answers.

Why would someone love me? Because I do.

How would anyone ever fall in love with me? Because I have.

The answer was there all along.

The secret to finding true love in another is first finding it in yourself.

If I can stand firmly on the rock that tells me I’m worthy of love, not only will I have the courage to seek it, but I will have the eyes to see through those who speak of it with a false tongue.

If I can build within me a foundation of self-acceptance, I will always have a home to turn to in times of struggle, and a starting block to stand on in times of heartbreak.

An honest love starts from within, so start with you.

You are the epicenter of your own love story.

See you soon.

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Letters to Little One

Someone’s Something

Dear Little One,

If someone were to ask you who you are, what would you say?

Woah. I know, kind of a broad, crazy, way too deep to be casual, type of question.

My guess would be that your mind would react one of two ways.

1) It would list everything about yourself that you hate/think you suck at/wish were different

2) It would argue things that are pretty okay/not terrible/things that should gain you brownie points somewhere.

Funny thing is, this list would be different for everyone. And that’s not based solely on alternating lifestyles, but also the unique rankings each of our minds give to specific traits and accomplishments. We all have things that we like/dislike and things that we believe make you a successful/unsuccessful person and it’s okay for those things to vary among individuals.

That being said, a lot of modern day success seems to revolve around popularity. With the rise of social media, many people find themselves obsessed with the amount of people they are and aren’t friends. We equate our own worth with who we know and who knows us. We calculate our self-esteem based on the number of text messages we’re receiving or the plans we’re making.

We’ve created this idea that you have to be someone’s something in order to be something to someone. And the more somethings you are to the someone’s that matter, the better chance you have at being happy or successful or well liked.

Don’t buy into this. Believe me when I say that it won’t matter how many people like you or know you or want to be your friend, if you are unhappy with the person they seek. Happiness and satisfaction start with you and you alone. The you that people see and the you that people don’t. This person will not always look at you the way you want, and you won’t always love it the way you should, but know that you must accept this person honestly before anything else will matter.

You don’t have to be someone’s something to be something to someone; you just have to be someone that means something to you.

And always know that you will forever be someone that means everything to me.

See you soon.

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Letters to Little One

The Look

Dear Little One,

There’s a park right near my work that has it all: picnic tables, a fitness apparatus, a gym, a pool. People are out and about all day, smiling and congregating around a mysterious yellow machine that no one knows how to work. In the mornings, I’m often stopped by pedestrians running across the street to get to their yoga or water aerobics classes. This afternoon I drove by the park on my way back from an errand and I saw a group of men sitting at a picnic table eating and playing cards. There were 6 of them and 4 of them were wearing cowboy hats. It wasn’t any sort of costume or mockery, it was just what they wore, what they felt comfortable in, you could feel it.

A little while later, I was back on the road and I started thinking about all the other people I’d seen today. I saw a boy who dressed in mostly black, despite the heat. His hair was greased back and his jeans were ripped. I saw a woman carrying an umbrella, wearing a sun dress and leather sandals adorned with pink flowers. I saw an elderly couple holding hands as they crossed the street, both dressed in khakis, the man wearing a button up and the woman wearing a shawl of sorts. All of these people got up today and put on the clothes that they were comfortable in, and that they thought suited them. They could have easily put on completely different clothes and I would have seen them all the same, not knowing the difference. Do you see what I mean?

We spend so much time worrying about how other people will perceive our styles or appearances, but to the outside party, you are how you present yourself. The picture I was given of these people in the passerby were the ones they crafted themselves and just look at the diversity in the images. If I can see all these people create all these looks that are so different, then how can any of us think that there is a “right” way to look? How can magazines and television shows tell you what looks good or bad when you are the one inside your own body, and that body knows what it likes and doesn’t like? All I’m saying is that we should waste less time worrying about how our look will come off to others, because they’re not the ones wearing it.

We create the picture that we show the world, so we might as well make one that we’d like to look at.

See you soon.

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