As part of my job, I sit in on the classes we offer to provide technical assistance support to anyone that might need it. A benefit to that is that I get to participate. During last night’s class, the instructor asked us to write a letter to our younger selves. I smiled, and the following is dedicated to 6-year-old me, short and in a cheetah print with a book I had no business reading at that age in hand.
Hi, Jackie –
I’d sadly like to confirm that your suspicions are correct: life isn’t always easy. Or fair. Or delightful. I am writing from a time in which lots of things just don’t make sense. Everything feels out of whack and out of your control. And we know you hate feeling out of control. You’ve gone through some difficult times – mostly internal and self-imposed – that have brought you to rock bottom. You’ve fought really hard to earn your successes, however small, and it sometimes felt like it wasn’t even worth it. But fear not, my curly-haired & neurotic child, because I am happy to report that you made it out to the other side. You’ll never feel like that again. Te prometo.
You’ve also gone through some fantastic times, times that far supersede the bad. The friends you made early on are still there, backing you up to the end like an army of a million. Your family – parents, sisters, cousins, aunts & uncles – they love you unconditionally and you sometimes wonder why. When you wanted to quit, your nephew Jonas kept you fighting. You didn’t know, then, that you’d one day meet Elias. Those boys brighten your world. You’ve traveled to places that have made you feel tiny and in awe and that is how you’ve come to learn that there is so much more to this life than your tiny Central Falls heart could have imagined.
Your other suspicions are correct: being shy, reserved, and making yourself small to make others feel comfortable doesn’t get you very far. When you enter a space and feel so out of place that you mute yourself, don’t. When you’re positive you know the answer, don’t hold back. Open up, talk; you’ve got valuable things to offer. When you want to tell someone you love them, say it. And when they inevitably hurt your feelings, don’t leave it festering in your chest. Be careful, however: your words are like caramel but you’re also really good at hurling them like daggers. You’re little, but you’ve already discovered this, huh? Be nice to those around you.
You’ve got a dream, baby, and we all know what it is. Follow that creativity and keen eye for detail and nuance that create stories in your head all the damn time. Stop lying and give into the geekdom: you love words. You love books and how they smell. You love the crinkling sound the spine of a book makes when you open it as you read by flashlight. I know you picture yourself sitting beachside, typewriter in tow, drinking a mimosa while working on your next bestseller. But to get there, you have to put in work. And then some more work with another layer of work. Things don’t just magically appear because you want them to. You’ll learn it time and time again, trust me. Do right by yourself and just go for it. Just jump. You’re smarter and cooler and far more valuable than you give yourself credit for.