I don’t know why, and I know I’m not alone, but sometimes it’s so difficult to focus on the positive, that it’s easier to get bogged down in the negative. Instead of appreciating the beauty, the growth, the fun, even the stillness, it’s much easier to highlight the ugliness, the stagnancy, the boredom, the silence. Why? I am actively trying to disengage from this kind of behavior, but it doesn’t happen overnight. Change doesn’t happen overnight. But it does happen. And to remember what time, patience, and a little gratitude will grant you, I’ve decided to look back five years.
Ever wish you could go back in time and talk to yourself, to dissuade yourself from some of the decisions, mistakes, outfits? What if instead of trying to turn back time, we met ourselves where we are? What if we gave our past selves a hug and told them it was going to get better? Would our past selves even believe it?
Dear Me Five Years Ago,
You don’t know this, and it’s probably for the best, but in five years you’re going to feel so much better. You’re going to look back on this time and you won’t even recognize yourself. You’ll wonder how you could have been so lost, so out of touch with your own self. You’ll wonder how you got to that point. And you’ll actually know. You’ll know how and why. This will give you power.
In five years you’re going to not only know why you were the way you are right now, but you’ll have empathy for yourself. Whereas now, five years ago, you can barely look at yourself in the mirror. In five years you will be on your way to finally becoming the person who you’ve always been meant to be. In five years life will not magically be better or easier, but it kinda will, actually. Life will be the same but different. You will be different. And this will change everything.
You think you have it all figured out now, but you don’t. And in five years you’ll know that you never will, that no one ever does. The secret is to try, to be authentic, to explore, to stay grounded, to remain conscious even when it hurts. What you’re doing right now is the only way you know how to be in this world, but you know it’s not working. The good news is, you’ll find out what will work on your own. You’ll figure it out and you’ll do what you think you’ve always done: work hard. You’ll just work differently, more efficiently, with purpose.
You don’t know this now, but you are going to be okay. Life will always have its ups and downs, but you will learn to deal with this. You will recognize that it’s not about what life throws at you, but how you decide to react to what has been thrown. You will see that you have options. You will see that you are not stuck, that you’ve never been stuck. You can evolve. You can grow.
Now, here in the future, things are very different, more different than you can imagine right now, there, five years in the past. Your whole world has recently been turned upside down, but you’re okay. You won’t believe this, but you don’t work at the restaurant anymore. You’ve finally graduated college, and with honors. You’ve gotten a 9-5 job in a field you are passionate about. You and your boyfriend aren’t together anymore, you live somewhere new, but you’re okay. You’ve gone on your first business trip, and alone. You’ve met new people, you’ve become addicted to yoga. You’ve quit sugar and gluten (for the most part anyway, you’re still only human) and lost 30 pounds. You’re you but not.
What you really won’t believe, my friend from five years ago, is that it will be two years in February since you gave up booze. Right now you’re in your first semester of college, you’re just trying to keep your head above water. You’re doing it but you don’t know what you’re doing. You’re going to miss some classes because you’re hungover. You’re going to half-ass your way through some stuff just to get by. You’re going to make some epic mistakes in the next few years. But it’s all going to lead you to here. It’s going to be worth it.
At first I wished that I could tell you to get your shit together right now, right then and there, five years ago. I wished that you, that I, hadn’t waited for so long. That you would see the error of your ways and avoid a lot of the heartache. But it doesn’t work that way. If you weren’t going through what you’re going through right now, I wouldn’t be where I am in this moment. You wouldn’t be starting a new life, you wouldn’t be tackling a new set of “problems” with a clear mind and less ego. You’re not perfect then, and you’re definitely not perfect now, but you’re better now than you are then.
What is so scary for you right now is going to dissipate. What is holding you back will pretty much disappear. You will continue to work on yourself, for it is necessary and it is the work we do all of our lives, but you will face the world with… you will face the world. What you can’t seem to do five years ago, you will be able to do now. Because you will realize that the world will mirror back what is inside of you. The world will mirror your hurt and your fear. It will hand you what you’re thinking of. You will realize that worry and anxiety will not fix what is wrong. You will realize that you worry too much.
Dear me five years ago: I’m sorry you’re hurting. I wish I could take the pain away, but you’re going to figure it out. You’re going to be okay. You’re going to see that pain is a part of life, but also that a lot of your pain is self-inflicted, self-created. You’re going to see that there are other ways to live, that you can release what no longer serves a purpose. You’re going to see that all of it has served a purpose. You’re going to live. Wildly, freely. You’re going to live.
I wish you a wild, free life.