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 Working Years

Dear Little One,

It’s the Christmas season, which always brings about a lot of anxieties for me. Not really from the season itself, but from what it entails. For example, in the weeks leading up to Christmas I’m often invited to a number of parties, be it with family or friends or both, and I’m always asked the same question: What have you been up to?

I don’t know why, but immediately after I hear these words, my mind always goes blank. Suddenly nothing I’ve done throughout the year seems of any worth and I’m left standing there, thinking I’ve more or less wasted a year. Today however, as I made a list of things I want to get done by the end of this year, I was reminded how important working years are.

You see, for the past few years, I’ve been making a lot of moves, and while they may seem small to the outsider’s eye, they are big and important for me. It is years like these that build up to the big, obvious, accomplishment ridden ones. And so this year, even though I know I’ll get asked that same question over and over and it will still be hard to answer, I’m not going to flee. I’m going to stand my ground. I’m not going to change the subject or avoid it by talking about the accomplishments of others. I’m going to tell the truth: I’ve been working hard.

See you soon.

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Letters to Little One

Success.

Dear Little One,

I don’t know what you’re in to. I don’t know what talents you have. I don’t know what dreams you’re dreaming. But I can pretty much guarantee you’re having the same thoughts that I’m having at this very moment.

I can’t.

I’m scared.

Where do I even begin?

To be honest, I don’t know if these thoughts ever truly go away, but the best way I can think of to silence them, is to question them. I’m an over thinker. I tend to waste time worrying about a problem that will probably never exist and I miss opportunities because of it. I let the doubts consume me, without questioning them first.

“I can’t”

Why? If I can let myself believe that I can’t do something, then I should at least know why I believe it. What about this goal or aspiration makes it unachievable to me? How can I fix that? What can I do to better myself or my situation to bring this dream into reach?

“I’m scared”

Again, why? What is the actual root of this fear? Failure? Lame excuse. If everyone gave into the fear of failure, nothing would ever get done. There would be no innovation, there would be no success.  I get it, failure is daunting, and sometimes it can feel like the only possible outcome. But before you believe that, before you give up on something simply because you’re afraid you will fail, get up, go outside, and start walking.

Success is everywhere. Look at the sidewalk, the houses, and the cars. Look at the clothes, the stores, and the food. All of these things started with an idea.

Look at a T-shirt. That T-shirt started as an idea floating around in someone’s head. They took that idea and decided it was good enough to draw on paper. Once on paper, someone decided that that drawing was good enough to sew. Once sewn, someone decided that that T-shirt was good enough to sell. Once on sale, someone decided that that T-shirt was good enough to buy. And once bought, someone decided that that T-shirt was good enough to wear.

If that first person doesn’t pursue that idea, that shirt never exists. The same goes for cars, cell phones, shoes, and pool noodles. (All of equal importance, of course.)

My point is, never let yourself believe that the idea you have is too small or too stupid*.

*(Refer back to the fact that someone invented the pool noodle.)

The world we live in relies on the bold and courageous to get things done. You have to put yourself out there again and again and again and again. Failure will seem imminent. It will follow you around wherever you go, hoping that you finally take a seat; but keep standing, keep walking, keep trying.

If you want to make a name for yourself, speak it.

If want to get mouths talking, make yours the first to move.

Embrace your talents and your flaws and show people what you can do.

Do this, and I’ll do the same.

Make me proud.

See you soon.

 

 

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Letters to Little One

Jobs

Dear Little One,

It’s just another Wednesday morning at work. It was gloomy this morning, typical of June in Southern California. I don’t mind though. It’s nice to have a break from the heat, if only for a few weeks. I wish there was a way to absorb all the cool air. That way when we reach July and the fires of hell are upon us we could refer to our stock of June gloom and survive a little bit longer. Invent that, will you. I’d like to retire early.

I’ve been working at the shop for about 4 years now. It’s not so bad, I like the people and you can’t beat the schedule. I work every day from 8-3 and usually have no problem taking a day off when I need to. I’m taking this Friday off actually. Natalee, Bub and I are heading up to Santa Barbara on Thursday to stay with our cousins while our aunt and uncle are out of town. Natalee and Taryn are already mapping out the schedule of activities. Last time we did this, they had us booked solid all 3 days we were there, almost down to the minute.

It. Was. Amazing.

Schedules make my soul happy.

But yes, my flexible work schedule is great, and I just got a raise the other day, but I still dream, every day, about leaving. I dream about finding an amazing job that will jumpstart a new chapter in my life. A job that I will love and be passionate about and that will pay enough to let me move into my own place. A job, I have yet to find. The worst part of it all is that I don’t even know what the job looks like. I just picture myself walking into a building, pencil skirt and button down shirt in toe, waving to the girl at the front desk and sitting down in my chair with a coffee. It’s a weird image. I’ve never worn or owned a pencil skirt, and I hate coffee. That’s just what a successful career has looked like to me in movies and books and the occasional sightings on city streets.  But I suppose success looks different on everyone. My mom has worked a few different jobs but has found no greater success than the birthstones of her three children and the promise from my dad that she wears on her ring finger.

The way your success looks is up to you, whether it’s in the clothes you wear or the people you know or the money you spend. The most important thing to remember about success is that at the end of the day, if it doesn’t make you feel good, you’re not doing it right. Success should be something you feel from within and reflect outward. That’s the only way it sticks.

For me, I haven’t drawn out my picture of success; I don’t even know if I’m holding the right pencils to do so.  I have no idea when it will happen or what it will look like, but I do know how I want it to feel.  I want to find work that pays the soul more than the pocket. Work that satisfies that needy heart rather than the greedy head. And I want to be a mother.

So that’s where I have my sights.

See you soon.

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