Someone asked me what I would say to the person I was 5 years ago.
Thankfully, life left hefty stretch marks on my heart. I’ve grown.
The trick was not in the writing of it, but in the forgiveness of the things I wish I did differently.
A little letting go, a lot of emotion.
All of it surrender.
You don’t know it yet, but a whole lot is going to change in the next 5 years.
Just when you think you know yourself and your life, another curve ball will come hurtling your way. The good news though, is that you’re going to handle them all gracefully and with your token sense of humor.
They’re all beautiful lessons though, so remember that for the moments you find yourself asking, “Why am I even here if I’m just going to be everyone’s punching bag?” Because you will ask it. And it is an important question, despite how terrified the world is of those types of conversations. But the more important thing is that people are going to stop treating you that way. There will come a time in the next few years that you really see how beautiful you are.
You won’t always need a partner to affirm that beauty either. It seems like such an abstract thing but you are going to be able to look in the mirror and check out your butt with a smirk because you know how attractive you are. That much I can promise: you will know what it means to love yourself.
I’m looking back now and while I have heaps of advice, the first thing I really want to say is I’m sorry.
You are precious beyond all words and measure, yet I never really treated you like you were #1 and you needed to be. When someone or something made you feel uncomfortable or hurt you, the thing to do just became, ‘ignore it until it goes away on its own’ instead of saying, ‘Hell no you’re not treating Her like this because she’s precious and we’re establishing that now!”
I was more concerned with making peace and in the process never stood up for the one person who I’m going to live with for the rest of my life: Cheryl.
There are so many curious people and its easy to confuse them with the caring ones. Loneliness will make you do some very painful things and it’s important that you go through them until you stare down the fear of standing on your own.
Everyone’s opinion mattered more than how you felt and I look back with such an ache in my heart for how steadily you tuned out the beats of your heart’s response to life, people and experiences.
I know we’re one in the same, separated by time but I want you to know that hardly anyone says it, despite the fact that you yearn to know the truth of it:
They do care.
Your contributions do make a difference.
They would notice if you weren’t here.
The world is going to change before your eyes. You will learn so much about love. Your heart will shatter and you, with the sheer determination to know what it really means to love yourself, will put it back together again. You will do that. I’m living the outcome of that, now. The things you thought were only dreams, will come true. And then some.
The ‘and then some’ is still unfolding from where I’m writing and yet, it’s more beautiful than watching a newborn sleep. The wonder and innocence will take your breath away every single time. And that’s just the unfolding of some of those dreams which are on their way to coming true. Do you know how amazing that is?
You are going to make it through all of it, not intact, but that my darling, is a wonderful thing.
Remember to keep reaching and wherever you can, settle for nothing less than the following:
your heart jumping when you hear their voice.
slow dances in the kitchen.
friends who believe in you so much that they take you on window shopping trips to pick out the outfit you’re going to wear when you go on Oprah.
experiences you’re so excited about that you get up before your alarm….. despite it being set for 4am.
jobs that actually pay you, because you know far more than you think you do. And if it’s not paid, make sure that your voice matters in what you do and that it makes your soul sing. The only thing you’ve yet to do is understand that you don’t need someone else’s permission to act like you know what you do.
surrounding yourself with friends who say things like, “If it’s messy, that’s fine but why hold back? If you fall apart after it, that’s what friends are for.” Find those friends and whatever you do, maintain those friendships like well tended gardens.
You’ve had a lot of life packed into a short period of time and you’re coming up on even more life and more lessons and it’s okay to feel weak. It’s okay to admit you haven’t a clue and life isn’t about being an island and protecting yourself from hurt. It’s about being messy and learning something about yourself throughout that hurt and understanding how to cherish yourself so much more afterwards.
You have so much to give and you may get very skilled at shutting others out. Well, I guess that you do get skilled at keeping people at arm’s length, but to quote a great author and a hard learned lesson, “You can’t protect yourself from sadness without protecting yourself from happiness.” (Jonathan Safran Foer). Remember that because the pain of being an island will be greater than the fear of vulnerability.
Your imperfections make you one hell of a stunning human being. Not because it’s just a kind thing to say, but because, like a mosaic, each piece fits perfectly to create a pattern but it first has to come from a bigger broken piece. Everyone’s a little broken and while some may make a game out of trying to show you how they’re ‘less’ broken, they’re kidding themselves. Being messy is half the fun in life. So is admitting that there are parts of you in pieces, because despite the odds, those pieces will fit so well up against those of others. That’s how you’ll know who your best friends will be, in addition to the romances that teach you the most. Stop trying to fix yourself.
You may not know it now but you are incredibly strong. It will take you a while before you realize just how strong, but you are. And you won’t be apologetic about it, either. You will spend more time saying, “Thank you,” than you will, “I’m sorry”. Not because you won’t admit when you’ve done wrong, but because you’ll stop living as though you need to get everyone’s permission to take up space where you stand.
It is safe to end the search for a pillar of strength because, you are going to become your own pillar. You’ve spent so much time leaning on others or lifting them up but in the next 5 years, you’re going to learn a lot about how to support your own weight, support your own dreams, visions and how to support love in your life.
Those upcoming years will test you, but you will emerge a butterfly. Let all of it grow your wings.
With all the love in this heart.
And I love you.
Your 5 Years Wiser Self,