I wrote a letter to my past self during a self development online course I did last year called The Joy Equation. This letter was our homework exercise for the first week “Develop Fierce Self Love”, which focused on cultivating a strong sense of self-worth, developing inner resilience and practice kindness towards yourself without an agenda of improvement. It was truly an eye opening week for me, opening me to some pretty deep soul searching down memory lane. One big AHA moment was the realisation that my high school experiences when I was 14 (lasting 2 years) lead me to form a certain belief about myself that simply was not true.. it was where I lost my sense of worthiness. And it was a belief that rooted itself deep within me, forming much of who I am today – and though my adult mind knows it is not true, changing it is not easy and is a work in progress. The task was to write a letter to my past self – showering her with understanding, forgiveness and hope.
Dear 14-Year-Old Me,
I know that right now, you are feeling completely alone, rejected and unwanted at school. That you cried your eyes out in the toilets when you found out your “friends” actually weren’t your friends and really didn’t like you much at all. You feel embarrassed and ashamed that your class mates tease you for having no friends, call you names like “Sony – The one and only”. Your self-esteem is pretty much rock bottom right now. In fact, it’s been torn to pieces. And you cry yourself to sleep night after night, wishing, hoping, longing for friendship and love. You daydream about belonging in a group of friends and being loved.
I know that during this period you come to believe that you are, at your core, simply unlovable. That there must be just something wrong with you. Because this is the only reason you can think of, or comprehend why everyone has rejected you. Why nobody likes you or wants to be your friend. For two whole years you will suffer through this. But sweetheart, THIS IS COMPLETELY UNTRUE!
You probably will never really know WHY your school peers did what they did. Kids act in strange ways – people are cowards and they follow the crowd. For some reason this idea of “not being her friend” caught on with the whole grade and you were left to struggle through it alone. But you cannot blame yourself! I’ll tell you why.
You are absolutely loveable: Yes you are. You are a precious happy-go-lucky girl who was full of hope, optimism and sunshine. Remember how infatuated R was with you in the 7th grade. He even bought you a gold bracelet, he was so in love! And how L gave you that rose on valentines day in 8th grade? How you treasured your first ever rose, breathing in it’s sweet scent, hidden on your window sill every night. Your heart is tender, sensitive, vulnerable and shy. These are beautiful, innocent things about you – but that light within you became dark over those two years. Don’t believe for one second that you are not worthy of friendship, acceptance, belonging and love. Because remember – you were loved by those who mattered. Your family and your church youth group friends who totally saved you – those fortnightly youth group meetings became what you lived for, always counting the days until the next one.
You are strong: You know what – sometimes it is better to stand apart and follow your own path. Doing this at the tender age of 14 is a bit of an ask. But in the end, guess what, it just made you into a strong independent woman! Heck – things like going to the movies alone or eating out alone – so many girls were scared or self-conscious about doing that, but not you! Pfft.. piece of cake (yummy too!) More power to you girl! You realised that if you wanted to do or have something, you could just go and do it – without someone to hold your hand. So what if you weren’t popular or adored by others, didn’t have your “clique” – that shit is shallow and fickle as the wind. This experience taught you to start journalling, something you carried through many years. Sure some stupid kids stole your diary and made fun of your heart felt writings one day. But you rose above that. You didn’t retaliate – that is quiet inner strength right there. It also made you appreciate and love music and books which you used to escape. A healthy outlet – much better than turning to alcohol or smoking or drugs.
You are awesome: You have no idea girl of the amazing life you are gonna live in the next 20 years. How you will grow up out of your awkward teenage years, and truly blossom into a stunning sexy woman. Beautiful on the inside and out, deeply loving & passionate, smart, funny, talented, creative soul. You are gonna have some pretty cool experiences – and in a way, you have these two difficult years to thank for that. Because this experience drove you to push yourself to achieve things, to put yourself out there, not be afraid of trying new things – and you discover that heck, you love a challenge! You love dancing and go on to dance on a near professional level even though its only a “hobby”. You enter street dance battles and even win one! You perform. You start learning circus aerial arts – a huge physically challenging activity, which only makes it even more appealing to you. You get into music through your piano playing, discover your love for jazz and even form a jazz trio for a bit – and get paid to perform in a restaurant in Soho in the West End. All the while, enjoying a thriving career as a successful web developer in one of London’s best digital agencies. Umm… hello awesomeness?
You are most definitely ENOUGH: Those are some pretty huge achievements and talents you have. So you have absolutely no reason to believe that you are not worthy of love. Or that you need a boys love or lots of friend’s approval and admiration to make you feel validated. You definitely get your fair share of men’s attention (particularly in your late 20s and 30s) – but don’t base your self-worth on that. Or your achievements. Because your worth comes from within. And at the core, you are an amazing, loveable, strong, awesome human being. YOU ARE ENOUGH. As you are, right now, in the past, in the future. All your flaws, imperfections, selfishness, vanity… you as a Work In Progress Woman are ENOUGH!
So hey, go easy on yourself ok? Be kind, be compassionate, be gentle. Gift yourself that love you lack from your peers. Because true self love comes from within.
Lots of love,