If Only! A Letter to My 21 Year Old Self

in life •  2 years ago 

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A few days ago @ericvancewalton wrote a post that was a letter to his 21 year old self. This post has taken me on a winding path of remembering myself at that age and considering what would be useful for me to hear back then, so I’m taking Eric up on his suggestion to do this exercise.

I took this task to heart and wrote the letter I would honestly wish to send to myself, rather than something more generally useful for young people. Sharing it makes me a little nervous, but created a post because as I’ve noted before, I’m committed on steemit to challenge my fear of showing myself.

The experience of writing this letter was far more powerful and moving than I expected, and as Eric reported as well, it gave me a new perspective on my life.

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Me, my still close friend Heather and my 1974 Super Beetle on the epic cross country road trip we took in 1988

Dear 21 year old Ruth,

You are made just right for your life, settle into yourself, trust yourself, you are much more than you realize. Get in the habit of noticing what you like about your life and yourself, it will help you with your self-esteem.

You and your peers will live in a time of more constant, rapid and profound changes than have occurred in recorded history and life will not be the same in 25 years. There’ s no need to fear this, all of you are uniquely built for it and will have a significant place within the changes.

The most important thing is to build up your insides. Contrary to what you’re told, your inner resources are your greatest strength and will enable everything good in your life.

You have the instinct to take care of yourself each morning with your practice. You fear this and are inclined to fight it almost everyday. Surrender now! Don’t waste your energy wrestling with your own nature in any way. This practice and hunger for a deeper connection with your spirit and body is a great gift and the more you nurture it the stronger you’ll feel. I know that most people around you don’t get what you’re doing, but you’ll meet lots of people later on who will!

Not everyone will like you, and actually this is not a loss since popularity isn’t necessary for your life-path. No need to waste precious time or energy on trying to win people over. Instead focus on those with whom you come alive and know that the people who love you will do so fiercely, and with great heart. You will always be rich in friends.

Vulnerability is a kind of strength, no need to mask it, instead just be with the feeling of it.
Take good care of your sensitivity, it’s also a gift, not something to rid yourself of!

Do as much as you can to learn to be comfortable with yourself in the present.You may believe that you are damaged goods but there’s no need to further berate yourself for this. In fact, you’ve survived the extreme and that in itself is something to be proud of. Be your own best ally through your healing and know that none of that process is a waste of time nor money. Step by step you’ll come out from under the trauma. And through this lens, protect yourself knowing you still have open wounds, this protection will build your trust. Things may feel uncomfortable for awhile but I promise you this will get easier.

Save more money than you think you need to. It gives you options and is empowering.
Yes everyone says it but I know you won’t listen to them, so I’m telling you also.

A 9-5 job will never work for you so just stop thinking you should just get a real job. Instead use that energy to make your work soar. Make the stuff you want to make alongside making a living and don’t worry if others like it, just keep following your interests.

For you, there is no glory nor benefit in struggle nor in martyrdom, ask for help. In fact, you’ll find that you’ll have access to much more of your power when you make pleasure and enjoyment a priority in your day.

Your body is golden and is wholly yours, inhabit it, take good care of it, love it and don’t ever feel you need to share it out of obligation.

Lastly, don’t take that trip to Europe after college. You know you don’t really want to, so instead, go and be with your friend in St Louis and take that trip later when you’re ready. Do what you actually want to do, not what you think you should.

See you soon!


Now that I’ve done this exercise, I really wish I could have sent this to myself, what a huge difference it could have made! And whew, I’m SO relieved to be so much older. This exercise makes me wonder what I would say to present day me from my imagined deathbed! Hmmm...

Have you ever done this exercise? It's powerful and I recommend it and if you do - I'd love to read it!
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Hii mam, these words from my heart to you, and I read your whole post and your each and every word give power to me to do better and better and your whole experience of life you put here and it's really great to see your whole post . I do believe they you have a really great personality . And like the photo that you had posted here which is 21 year old and and now . You are still looking beautiful as earlier and people are not beautiful not because of there apperriance but from there heart and I feel you heart is real pure like a child . You each words directly connected to my heart. I like your post and thanks for such great post .

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thank you for your kinds words and I'm so heartened that you connected with my letter! By the way, the baby in your profile photo is incredibly cute, is that your child?

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Not Actually I am not married.

Wow... that's a powerful exercise; makes you think in depth about what is really important to you, and what doesn't matter so much... even now. I did something similar, many years ago... part of therapy; at the time, made me realize just how rarely I made up my own mind about anything. Thanks for sharing this... very intimate exercise.

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thanks so much @denmarkguy...you're right, it is a very intimate exercise but that's also the power. I can see it being useful in therapy, in fact it's been theraputic for me!

Past Self-Reflection = Forward Thinking

You and your peers will live in a time of more constant, rapid and profound changes than have occurred in recorded history and life will not be the same in 25 years. There’ s no need to fear this, all of you are uniquely built for it and will have a significant place within the changes.

Wonderful and powerful post Ruth. I'll try to do one of these soon as well.

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Thanks so much @hansikhouse, can't wait to read yours!!

Awesome! Really enjoyed that. Thank you for sharing. I've met a lot of young backpacker in the last few months her in SE Asia. It would do them a world of good to read this. Many of them are traveling for a few months, then will be entering the 9-5 work force or heading back to school. They all speak about it like they are un-happy and dreading their future. With all the expectations the world puts on us in various ways, I can see why the teenage and early 20s are such a confusing time for so many. Great post Ruth! -Dan

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thanks so much Dan, you're so right -

With all the expectations the world puts on us in various ways, I can see why the teenage and early 20s are such a confusing time for so many

Such true words!I found these expectations to be crippling, distracting and confusing as most of us do and I don't envy those young backpackers! These are really fun years but kind of agonizing too. Thanks always for your support :-)

This is incredible. The best advice have seen from mother to child in recent years. Thoughtful

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thanks so much! means a lot to hear that.

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You're welcome

Thank you @natureofbeing! This exercise should be required writing. and I may try to do it, but I'm not sure I'm brave enough to post it. (Then again, taking that risk is what makes it work.)

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It's more fun than it seems, I recommend it! And I'd love to read yours.

So grateful to you for sharing this! I also wrote a [letter to myself](https://steemit.com/writing/@colinhoward/letter-to-my-20-year-old-self when i was 20) inspired by @ericvancewalton.

It's a really rewarding exercise!

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you did the exercise too! great, I'll take a look

Before moving to how nice the letter is, let me talk about your first photo. When I looked at it, I thought you were like 35 or maximum 40 years old and then when I saw that you were 21 in 1988, I was like no way can she be 50. I was born on 13th August 1988 and am 29 now but I look so much older. You amaze me. Now on to your letter. It was just so so nice. A lot of it is similar to what I'd write to my 21 year old self and yes I would definitely tell myself to be her ally first and pay attention to what she really needs and not what she thinks she does.

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You always leave such kind messages, thank you :-)! I must admit that some days I feel and look 65. We all seem to need encouragement to listening to and taking good care of ourselves since there are so many pressures to meet the expectations of society, family, jobs and friends. I still find I need to remind myself regularly!

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I feel I am 50 at times because of how maturely I act at times lol and look 35 because of ym extra weight lol. Yes, we do need encouragement from time to time to take better care of ourselves and I'll definitely be giving you more of that so you always look gorgeous like you do now.

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With all of your wisdom, I can believe you have a sagely essence about you and this is a good thing! xoxo

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Aww wow this is the best compliment I have received in a long, long time. Feeling like Buddha now haha but seriously, you cheered me up :D xox

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so glad :-)

Glad I finally got around to reading this :-)

Just like Eric's letter I had a couple of points really resonate with me.

This one is definitely one I would say to my 21 year old self.

Not everyone will like you, and actually this is not a loss since popularity isn’t necessary for your life-path. No need to waste precious time or energy on trying to win people over. Instead focus on those with whom you come alive and know that the people who love you will do so fiercely, and with great heart. You will always be rich in friends.

Ha, yeah I probably wouldn't have listened, though I might have done if the advice came from me in the future!

Save more money than you think you need to. It gives you options and is empowering.
Yes everyone says it but I know you won’t listen to them, so I’m telling you also.

Yuuuuuuupppppp!!!!

A 9-5 job will never work for you so just stop thinking you should just get a real job. Instead use that energy to make your work soar.

I'm going to have to do one now, Eric's one scared me a bit for some reason, but now I think I'm ready :-D

Cg

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I like hearing about what specifically resonated with you and YES DO ONE!!!

Beautiful letter... it brought tears to my eyes. This is such a powerful exercise, I don't have the guts to do it, but maybe one day..
I love that it is completely written for you and you only. No need to prove anything to anyone, hide, or give lessons.

Road trip across the States in a Beetle? I can almost hear you 2 laughing and having the time of your life. Some of my most cherished memories were had when my friends and I first started driving. It brought us a different kind of freedom, something so powerful we'd never experienced before, sheer happiness and a bond between us that seemed (and often is) unbreakable, now engraved in our minds.

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what a beautiful comment @osmOsis! You're right it IS a powerful exercise, and it flowed through my consciousness for several days before I could grab it and write something down. I highly recommend doing it whether you share it or not and regardless of whether you complete it, it gave me more perspective than I anticipated.

You've captured perfectly the altogether unique magic and freedom of the roadtrip and the ever-lasting bond that results!!!

I cannot believe I actually missed this post...
How true...your letter fits my 21year old self too... :/
And you look SO cute in the first picture!!!!!! :D

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I'm glad you caught it, thanks for searching ;-), that first photo is from this spring up at Mt. Hood with Rob - he catches the best photos of me. Just like with your @cruetzy .... it shows how relaxed and "me" I feel with him. xo

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I was about to say...that it's exactly like @creutzy ... <3 <3 <3 Ooooh love !!! :D <3

that's outstanding creativity