Have you ever wished you could go back in time? To talk to a younger version of yourself to tell yourself what mistakes to avoid making? To share your lessons learned with the one person that matters most – yourself – since you truly know what lies ahead?
I recently picked up a copy of “What I Know Now: Letters to My Younger Self” where Ellyn Spragins compiled dozens letters written by pretty fabulous ladies like Madeleine Albright, Maya Angelou, and Trish McEvoy where they each wrote a letter to a younger version of themselves, sharing their love, advice and wisdom. These powerful letters, written by CEOs, fashion designers, political activists, entertainers, Olympic athletes – and a Queen, made me think about how many universal struggles we have as women. We make so many of the same mistakes, share so many of the same vulnerabilities and fears no matter our background, race, age, profession…
Ann Curry tells her 22 year old self that “If you have faith in your real self, you’ll suffer less.” Wise words, Ann. Where were you when I was 22??
Actress Shelley Morrison tells her 30 year old self : “You can’t beat yourself up for what you should have done if you weren’t equipped with the knowledge at the time.” Yes – so true!!
I loved novelist Lisa Scottoline’s letter – because first of all it is a list. Second of all – every item on it is so spot on. Here is one nugget of wisdom from her list: “The little voice you keep ignoring is the only one you should ever listen to.” Right on, Lisa!
I found a lot of inspiration in these letters…but it didn’t really hit home for me until I decided to try to write one for myself. To be honest, I hesitated to post this letter to share it with friends, family and whoever else reads this blog. But in the spirit of risk-taking and being vulnerable, I decided to go for it.
If this inspires you in any way, I really encourage you to do the same for yourself. It is a powerful experience. Share it with someone. Share it with me! Create a dialogue – here or with someone you trust.
A Letter to My Younger Self:
I see you so clearly – so much more clearly that you see yourself in this moment. Stop and notice. Stop and reflect. Stop and take the time to appreciate who you are as the independent, resilient young woman that you already know that you are. Those voices in your head??? You know the ones I am talking about. That is your heart speaking to you. Stop and listen. It’s scary, but the sooner you learn how to do that, the sooner you will build the inner strength to make difficult life choices ahead. Those inner voices are your truth – the core of who you are in your heart. By not listening to them, you are not honoring who you are. Worse yet, the deeper that you bury them now, the harder it will be to hear them later in your life.
Always remember – your heart is trying to help you – to protect you – to love you. If you don’t know what to do about it, ask for help. I know that isn’t easy for you, but being vulnerable and admitting you don’t have all of the answers is not only normal, but is a good lesson to learn early in life.
One day, you will come to love these values that make you who you are: your capacity to love, your kindness, your hopefulness, your desire to help others. You will also come to find out that those same virtues will be your vices if you lose yourself in your relationships, whether personal or professional. Learn to put yourself first – to love and honor yourself. This is not being selfish. This is being true to yourself. The result will be that you have MORE to give as a healthy, whole, loving, confident person.
Here’s the thing. Whether or not you figure this out now, you are still going to make mistakes. When this happens – because it is inevitable – forgive yourself. The most loving thing you can do for yourself is to forgive yourself. Show yourself the same kindness and capacity to love that you do for others. It isn’t easy for you to do – I know this. But learn to let it go. You will have more room in your heart for other things when you do this. Learn from your experiences, and let go of the past. Don’t bury your hurts. Move through them because they are all part of your journey.