This February, I’m doing #LoveMe, a challenge designed to help you learn to love yourself! One of my New Year’s resolutions was to be kinder and more gentle to myself, so I’m trying to be as positive as I can possibly be in 2017 and hope that doing this challenge will be good for my mental health and overall well-being. Check out my previous #LoveMe posts here!
Today’s prompt is:
A note to the past you.
Dear past me,
You’re always anxious. And I’m here to tell you that… guess what, you’re still always anxious!
Not the good news you were expecting, I know. And I’m sorry. But I think it’s important to be honest with you and the truth is that you’re still anxious. Sometimes there are lots of reasons to be that way.
So why am I here? Because I want to tell you about all the things you can stop being anxious about, all the things that you worry will happen (or not happen, as the case may be) by filling you in on everything that turned out just fine during the years that separate you and me.
There are so many I hardly even know where to start!
I’m in college now! I found the perfect school for me. No, really. I did! It has great programs for what I’m studying (more on that in a bit) and although it’s out of state, I’m not homesick at all. There’s so much to do here and honestly the only thing I regret is that I will be here just four years! My time here has practically flown by, since my sophomore year is already almost over. I’ve gotten really good grades so far, too, and made the dean’s list several times, so there’s another thing you don’t need to worry about.
I now know what it is that I want to do with my life! Well, mostly. I don’t have all of the details hammered out yet, but then I’m only twenty years old: Who would expect me to? I haven’t lived enough of my life to know exactly when and how I will achieve absolutely everything it is that I have in mind, but I do have some solid goals, much more real than the vague ones that are floating around your head right now: Double-major in English and journalism. Write diverse books for children, middle-grade, and YA readers. Work as a photojournalist for National Geographic. It all seems so obvious now – how could I ever want to do anything but these things? – but it wasn’t back then. Where you are now.
I came out! I’ll have been out for four years as of this summer, which is just plain weird to think about because WHERE DID ALL THAT TIME GO?! It was one of the best decisions I ever made because it freed me to live my own life instead of someone else’s idea of what life should be. I’ve had to cut a few people out of my life as a result of this decision, but honestly? It was worth it, because they were terrible people and I didn’t need them in this new, better life of mine that I was in the process of building.
I’m getting help for my mental health issues! It’s been a long, slow, hard process, but I’m so glad just to have begun. I’m more aware of how to deal with bad days, how to ignore bad thoughts, how to recognize that I’m stuck in a way of thinking that does me no favors in terms of ever getting better, et cetera.
I have friends! You’re really lonely right now, aren’t you? I mean… online friends are cool and everything, but sometimes it’s really nice to get a hug from someone in person. Or to have a conversation that is face-to-face and in real time. And now I have that! Here I am, three semesters (plus a little bit more) into my college years and I seem to have amassed quite a few friends without really even trying.
Please don’t worry so much. I know that just telling you that won’t automatically fix all your problems, or even most of them. BUT. Some of the things that worry you most about your life will turn out so much better than you’ve ever hoped.
Ah, but I haven’t said anything about the state of the world, now have I? Well… that’s because it’s a scary place these days. I almost wrote “it’s kind of a scary place these days,” but that’s not true. It’s just scary, period. So that’s one area in which your life apparently isn’t going to change much, because you worry about world events right now, albeit very different ones.
But you know what? Even though it’s scary and hard and often leaves me feeling incredibly anxious and sad, I’m getting through it all. And I wouldn’t be able to do so if I hadn’t had so much experience with similar feelings in previous years. So just think of what you’re going through right now as practice for what I’m going through right now.
You can’t control everything and neither can I. And that’s anxiety-inducing! But there are some things that you and I both have control over. And those things turned out perfectly OK, for the most part. So, please do your best to stop worrying about them as much as possible and instead trust that over time, those things will fall into place. And then you’ll be here, where I’m at in life.
Elizabeth in 2017