Letter to a Younger Self

My wish for you is that you soften with age.

You who wears your dark eyeliner and black clothing and chunky silver jewelry as armor, allowing it to be your protection against the world. You, who probably is fooling nobody with your attempts at toughness, but feels sufficiently defended to battle a world that you feel is inevitably out to get you.

In your older years, I wish to see you trading your black clothing and doc martens for earth tones.

I wish for you to glance in your closet one day and be surprised to see an array of soft florals instead of a wall of black and gray.

I wish for you to allow light and love into your soul and your appearance. I wish for you to remove your armor and to experience the beautiful release that can occur with vulnerability.

You can allow your sharp edges to be worn down. It is not something regrettable. It is magical. Your frailty can replace prickliness as your superpower.

You can stand up and be proud to announce you are you and no other. You can be hurt, joyful, sensitive, smart, outspoken, everything large and open and wonderful and timid and small and scared. You can do all of this.

My wish for you is for you to understand and cherish both your strengths and your weaknesses. You need not pretend to be stronger than you are. You will know exactly how strong you are and you will make no pretense to be either more or less.

My wish for you is you will, without fear, allow others to support you where it is needed.

People might let you down. You might end up hurt. It is true. This is a possibility.

But part of your strength lies in your ability to see others for who they are and understand it is unlikely they will wound you.

Part of your strength is the unending optimism that you once considered a defect.

You understand without shame your belief that the people who will love you are far more numerous than those who will wound you.

My wish for you is for your strength and wisdom, as you learn and grow, to allow you to see warning signs far better than you did in your youth. Your strength can allow you to set appropriate boundaries instead of unhealthy ones. You can understand what it means to show and receive love and understanding, and you have the ability to only allow those who are worthy to be part of your tribe.

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The only people who get upset about you setting boundaries are the ones who were benefiting from you having none.

You have learned how to express your feelings. You will know how to express your hurt when someone has caused you pain. You will know what a respectful and caring response feels like. You will know to keep your distance from those who hurt you and then blame you for your response to their actions.

Part of your strength will also lie in the knowledge you cannot change others. It will be a tough lesson to learn, but ultimately you will learn it. Grown people should not have to be told how to treat people with kindness, or taught that they should do so.

Someone who is unkind to you is doing so because they are on their own journey, suffering through their own battles. You cannot fight those battles for them. You can try to provide them with appropriate tools. You cannot force them to use those tools. Nor can you stick around and allow unkind people to continue being unkind to you.

Your softening and your strength allow you to see you owe the world nothing and everything. You can do your best to behave with integrity and love your fellow humans. You can expect the same from others. You can choose to not get angry when people mistreat you. You can choose to not know those people instead of allowing them to remain in your world.

My wish for you is that you soften with age in these ways. My wish for you is that you lose your external armor but retain your backbone of steel. I want your strength to become internal, rather than a barrier to knowing the world and allowing others to love you.

This is my wish for you, younger self. This is what you can be and what you deserve.

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