Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Revisited and Revised: A Letter: To My Sixteen Year Old Self

"As we grow up, we learn that even the one person that wasn't supposed to ever let you down... probably will. You will have your heart broken probably more than once and it's harder every time. You'll break hearts too, so remember how it felt when yours was broken. You'll fight with your best friend. You'll blame a new love for things an old one did. You'll cry because time is passing too fast and you'll eventually loose someone you love. So take too many pictures, laugh too much, and love like you have never been hurt because every sixty seconds you spend upset is a minute of happiness you will never get back" - Unknown.
 Letter of Note, one of my favorite blogs, recently posted a few pages from the book Dear Me: A Letter to My Sixteen-Year-Old Self. The book was compiled a couple of years ago as a fundraiser for HIV/AIDS prevention, and it consists of letters, written by a range of famous people - Yoko Ono, Stephen Fry, Emma Thompson - to their teen-aged selves. I thought it was so interesting that I thought I would give it a try...

My Dear Sixteen Year-Old-Self,  

When I think of you, I want to weep because I remember you as such a timid and shy person. Yet, believe it or not, in the end, you proved to be neither. You've hit the 30 mark, so indeed this is a moment in our life when I can turn around to face the past and reach out to you.

Those years were a hell of a time, believe me and I want to take the time to thank you for not getting pregnant, for staying in school, out of jail, and for generally not harming yourself.  I think you will be quite proud. I’ve had accomplishments, but I have also made my mistakes. I can come up with so much “do-this-don’t-do-that” stuff, but none of those details really matter.  I know you’re strong-willed and stubborn, because I’m strong-willed and stubborn (that’s from daddy), but please allow me to drop some knowledge without rolling your eyes or dismissing my words simply because you think I don’t get it. I know things, and when you’re my age, you’ll know them too. That’s why I’d love to share with you only a few ideas. I know your impatient, but please, bear with me.

Take the time to do the things that you really enjoy doing and build yourself and your knowledge. It’s amazing how quickly time goes when you’re looking backwards. That is when you realize if you would have done just a little bit of writing everyday like you always meant to, you would be on your 2nd bestselling novel right now.

You don’t know it yet, but you will lose him. You will lose the first person you ever loved with all your heart. He will never come back. You will cry and you will weep. Everyone will tell you life goes on. No one will tell you how hard it is and no one will ever understand. Still, after almost six years you will still miss him and that void will never be filled of hearing his voice or feeling his hugs. Its only in your dreams now. No one will ever tell you that you will still look at the pictures and recall all those happy moments with the greatest fondness. No one will tell you that you will learn to channelize that pain. You will learn to write and write. You will learn that his sincerest family and friends will embrace you as their own and you will never be forgotten. Even when new lives are being celebrated. Most importantly, no one will ever tell you that it’s possible to move on. You will eventually one day find that out yourself.

You will realize that the only thing that matters in the long run is spending time with your loved ones and telling them that you love them a lot. Always know that every moment will be a precious memory eventually.

You will loose your father when you turn 28, and you wont ever forget the pain and relief that you felt when he took his last breathe. You will  always remember the last living moment you shared with him when he was alive - where you crawled in bed with him, laid your head on his chest, closed your eyes and felt like his little girl again. And in that moment, you will finally put together a 28 year old story about the love between a father and his daughter. It's funny how that all works. You will feel almost every emotion inside you when you loose a parent. And even to this day, when you hear a Roy Rogers song or Neil Diamond's Sweet Caroline it will never be your voice that you hear singing - but his. He is always going to be inside you and with you.

Remember strong one, you don’t have to force yourself to be different from others. You don’t have to be like everyone else either. You just have to be yourself and cling onto those talents and aspirations of yours.  There will be times when you will compare yourself to others and feel upset. Don’t. Observe your own unique journey with joy.

You will lose your best friends. Even ones that you thought would never leave. You will grapple for years and search for meaning. You will examine your actions a hundred times always wondering if you chose the right path to walk on. Finally, you will realize that you are a sincere friend. You will realize that the ones who walk away truly do not deserve your love. You will realize that time changes every single thing. You will realize that some amazing people will enter your life, simply because you will eventually let go.

Be aware of your changing habits and preferences. Something’s about you will change. Some of your likes and habits will evolve. But some things will always stay the same. For example, by the age of 30, you will still love black clothes and have in insatiable appetite William Shakespeare.

Only people who are afraid for going for new experiences and who prefer security and boredom over danger and adventure are satisfied with the prĂȘt-a-porter package that life offers them. They don’t want to pay the high price of the haute couture package. But you know in your heart which one you've always wanted. Go for it. Pay the price. It will be worth it.

You will follow your dreams and move to England. You will meet people that will stay in your lives and who you will never talk to again. Follow your heart gypsy soul. Your love of traveling, reading, and learning will never fade.

You have a tendency to refrain from saying “no” just so that people don’t feel hurt or think that you’re arrogant or mean. Learn to say “no”. The faster you learn to say it, the less trouble and the more energy you will have. Believe me. True love will find you. If you would only wait and stop chasing the people - boys and men - who are either not interested in you, or not interested in you for the right reasons, you would find you have a lot more time on your hands to just "do you". You may not think it will ever happen for you, but you are very wrong. Even when you don't have a great love in your life - you are surrounded by love.

After you navigate around the rocky shores, go ahead and sail on the open seas, and don’t forget that at any particular point in your life, you’re free to stop and start everything from scratch. Because the only person you’re accountable to is yourself.

Remember that beauty lies hidden in the small things, and that you have to go for it, seeking high and low in the hearts around you, in the moments of laughter outside on the porch and the familiar ache in your muscles as you finish mile three and you veer towards home. Remember that nothing looks like the moon over the Atlantic.

I can tell you so many things. I can share so much advice. I can say, for instance, life is full of miracles. And nothing is impossible. So believe in your dreams. You are stronger than you think and remember that God will never throw anything at your way that he knows you cannot handle. Love yourself more, and listen to your intuition.

Be careful about being over-reactive (which yes, you will struggle with for years to come). Don’t act out of frustration or fear. Sleep on your decisions and I can promise the next day you will be wiser (I , your older self, am still working on this one). But whatever I tell you to do, you’re going to do things your way anyway. And that’s how you will learn to grow. Sometimes effortlessly and sometimes through pain and anguish.

But never forget that I am the woman I am because you are you.

Because you will venture and discover life.

Because you won’t be scared of the unknown.

Believe it or not you shy and quiet one, you have a lot within you. You will be stupidly courageous at times. Overbearing. Because you will be hungry to create your own path. Because you will make mistakes, but you will also enjoy great feats.

The list could go on and on. Even if you forget everything about my letter, please remember one single thing because it’s the most important piece of advice I will try and seal into your heart. Be gentle to yourself no matter what. Whatever happens in your life, always be good to yourself. The rest will follow. I didn't learn to say this to you until later years, but let me tell you know when I have the opportunity: I really love you. Just know Aynsley, that in those darkest moments, those most vulnerable moments, those moments when it’s hard to breathe and the ability to see outside the moment is blinded by self-doubt, you are not alone. I’m waiting on the other side…the powerful you. The woman you have become. Empowered, beautiful and overwhelmingly grateful that the life you are creating is mine.

When I was 16.

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