A Letter to My 17 Year Old Self
Like most of my posts, this could be triggering to those that have suffered from physical or emotional abuse.
It hurts me to write you this letter knowing already that you will receive it six years too late. Regardless-- there are things that I wish to share with you.
You are worth so much more than you think. Your limiting beliefs regarding your self worth and capabilities have such a strong hold on you. No amount of reassurance will make you realize this yet, and you're going to settle for way less than you deserve. And you're going to settle a lot... because you don't even know that you're settling.
You are going to make A LOT of dumb, impulsive, naive, and misinformed decisions. These decisions will lead to heavy consequences and looking back you will realize that they were mistakes. You will always realize, in hindsight, that the feeling you had before making the poor choice was your intuition telling you no. You will continue to push that voice away to receive instant gratification, pleasure, fun, and excitement. You will take a very, very long time to learn to TRUST that voice and to stop pushing it away. Even when you learn what that voice is you will struggle to listen. You're still struggling with that as you read this. Sorry 'bout it.
You are about to face the absolute best but absolute worst years of your life. The next three and a half years of college will be quite hard, but mainly carefree, blissful and FUN. College will be the best time you've experienced so far.. Don't get too excited. You will then be faced with the hardest year and a half of your life thus far. Be prepared and never give up. Sounds cheesy...but really, I'm getting to the good part eventually. Remember this: when you make it through that awful time, you will again be on the upswing.
You are going to encounter people that change you so much. You'll make best friends and lose best friends. You are going to be surrounded with several toxic people, and a handful of amazing people. You are going to think you're happy doing certain things and will later realize that you probably (read: definitely) weren't so happy after all.
You're going to be emotionally abused. You won't recognize it as abuse and you'll continue to allow it in your life. You'll let that tear you apart until your soul is so lost that your worth is at 0% battery. When you finally break free, you'll be physically abused. You'll be sexually abused more times than one. More than two, even. That will be suffocating and that will stick with you for years before you fully process what even happened to you. I hate to mention it now, but you're still working on that one.
You're going to fall in love and be in a very supportive relationship. You'll be happier than you've ever been... You're going to be certain that he's the one. But he won't be. No, really. I know you can't fathom that at 19, 20, or 21 years old after a three year relationship--but he wasn't the one for you. He was in your life for a reason and certainly a season but you need to let go when it inevitably all comes crashing down.
You are going to struggle a lot with an eating disorder, anxiety, and depression from 17 to 22. You're going to learn how strong you are by learning where you are weak. You will learn to identify your values as a human and you will learn that working toward your values every day will bring you closer to your true self. You will overcome these things and continue to work on them for life. Yes, you will. I promise.
Eventually when you are almost at the age of 23 you will experience utmost serenity. You will feel a tranquil oneness--oneness with yourself. Oneness with your purpose, spirituality and the people and environment around you. You will realize that you have made it through hell and that even if you have to keep going, you can always make it through. You will become independent in every sense of the word--you will inspire others. You will use your empathy to make the world a kinder place. (You also will let your empathy turn you into an emotional sponge so be careful when you walk into a room...)
You will learn that the energy of others GREATLY affects you, and you will learn to carefully allot time to those individuals that enhance your positive energy and less time with those who drain you and drag you down. You will spend a lot of time figuring out what truly invigorates your soul and try to connect with how you were as a child. Blissful innocence.
You will battle with quite a few health problems in the upcoming years, girl. But you always overcome them. I'm telling you right now--even the times that you technically have no heartbeat and your body should not be alive you WILL live. So don't let it scare you.
You will find yourself lying on the floor bawling too many times for me to count right now or ever. You'll also find yourself staring at a razor blade...deciding on a bottle of pills, and frantically trying to keep your car straight on the freeway so as not to crash into the divider as your brain desperately orders you to end it all.
You're going to feel psychotic and messed up most of this time. Maybe you are. But maybe you are just the only one talking about it. Maybe you'll realize, in sharing your struggles, that there are so many others dealing with all of this same stuff, after all. Maybe you'll realize that we've been programmed as a society to do certain things and act a certain way and inevitably spend months trying to deprogram your brain from the way it was taught like Pavlov's dog what is "right" and what is "wrong". What is acceptable vs. what is unacceptable. What is fake vs. what is real. (Essentially you'll be in a state of existential crisis most of the time. It's fine.)
(All of those maybes are DEFINITELYS.)
Don't let this letter scare you. As I sit here writing this I have fought off the demons that had such an indomitable hold on me for the past few years. I sit here as a different person. I feel peace and joy and love. I AM peace, joy, and love.
I wish I could have given you this letter sooner, Annalise...but unfortunately, I had to live it before I could write about it. Buckle up and get ready.