If could reach back through time and have a heart-to-heart with your twentysomething self, what would you say to her?
She’s in her twenties, that glorified period of life when she’s supposed to be discovering herself, deep in exploration, living her most defining decade. And yet.....she may feel like the exact opposite. Or exactly that. Or somewhere in between. She probably doesn't even know.
Maybe you pour her a cup of tea, look into her eyes, wrap her in a hug.
What do you tell her?
Today's letter comes from Gennifer Carragher, a gorgeous free spirit with an endless stream of Instagram beauty. She has this amazing letter she wrote to her 21-year-old self that took my breath away, and I think it'll take yours away, too. Thank you, Gennifer:
Dear 21-Year-Old Me,
Life is hard for you right now. Really hard. But I've got a few things to tell you that will hopefully make life a little better.
First, you should know that you are resilient, resourceful and amazing. I know you don't believe that yet, but I also know how far you've come. From being homeless, squatting in an abandoned trailer in the woods, to having a home, a full-time job and a car in less than two years is seriously incredible.
You should also know that the fact that you were once made homeless does not define who you are as a person now. It was simply due to other people's problems. So you can release that burden and let go of the fear that people will find out who you "really" are and abandon you or hurt you somehow. Not everyone is uncaring or malevolent. In fact, most people aren't.
You struggle a lot with this feeling of separateness. This feeling that there is you and then there is “out there” - the rest of the world and everyone else. You feel like you are constantly being pinched, pushed down and made to fit into this tiny box all by yourself.
There are two parts to this problem.
The first part is the people who tell you that you're weird or stupid or crazy when you're just being yourself. Do not try to fit yourself into the mold these people have created for you. Don't try to make yourself “normal” to them. They are not your right people. Instead, seek out people who love you for who you are. People who enjoy your quirks. It will take you awhile to find these people, but you will find them. And you will find yourself.
The second part of this problem is that you have been trying to make yourself so small that you don't affect anything “out there.” But it's unhealthy to squish yourself down into your smallest self, not to mention impossible to maintain that position for very long. Instead, open yourself up, share your joy and be present in the moment.
“Yes,” I hear you say, “But how?” Here are a few ideas:
• Create Things - Paintings, gardens, cakes, whatever makes you feel good. We are all creative beings. We just have to figure out what we like to create. So try new things, experiment and figure out what your creative gifts are.
• See What Other People Are Creating - Visit museums, go to bookstores and take lots of walks while maintaining awareness of all that's around you. This will help so much when you're figuring out what you like to create and who you want to become.
• Perform Random Acts Of Kindness - I know that you carry a lot of anger about the lack of kindness you've encountered in your life. But the best way to receive kindness is to give it. That probably sounds like a bunch of new-agey crap to your 21-year-old ears, but it's the truth. Try it for yourself.
• Figure Out What You Like To Do And Then Do It - Rather than doing what people tell you to do or what you think you "should" do, do what you love. If you love reading in bed all day, do that. (At least on your days off.) If you love baking cookies or planting flowers or scrubbing toilets, do it. And here's the important part: You must accept that you love doing these things. Don't get angry with yourself for not enjoying the "right" things or the "cool" things. Accept who you are and know that there are other people in the world who enjoy the same things as you. You are not alone.
• Play - I know this sounds silly, but you must incorporate more play into your life. Let go of all seriousness, stop worrying about what people will think of you and go dance in the rain, dig in the dirt or climb a tree. Getting stuck in super serious mode will drain all the life from you, while engaging in play will fill you up with life.
So that's all the advice this older and (slightly) wiser version of you can give. (I had to abide by the rules of time travel, giving away vital secrets from the future and all that.) Know that whatever path you choose in life is the right path. If you worry that you're on the wrong path, just remember that the universe is unfolding exactly as it should.
Gennifer Carragher is an adventurous photographer + barefoot wanderer on a mission to help people rediscover the incredible beauty and magic in this world. To that end, she lives out of a van, traveling the US with her husband, dog and two cats.
She shares her adventures at http://www.gennifercarragher.com.
Read past posts in the series here.
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