Sending yourself words of encouragement and joy.
The first day of January finds me sitting with a good cup of tea surrounded by my journals reading what younger versions of me have written, their hopes, discouragement, motivations in short revisiting who I am through their eyes.
This year what stood out was a letter I wrote to myself at the beginning High School and was meant to be opened on my graduation day. The letter talked about success, love, creative successes, it was in short the unassailable expectations of fourteen-year-old with a lifetime a head of her.
Two short years later I had dropped out of High School, runaway from home, was estranged from my family and working long hours trying to support myself at a minimum wage job. Life and the decisions I made trampled on the letter and the expectation it held for my life – the letter forgotten sat unopened in one of my journals.
I was eighteen when I started my January 1st, tradition. That New Years Eve I spent alone listening to music on the radio wondering how I would keep going if this was all life had to offer. My journals sat in the packing trunk that did double duty as a coffee table and so because they were within easy reach out and opened the oldest and started reading. With each word written by a younger me I found pieces of myself and with each gift I reclaimed me then I came to the letter still unopened.
The words flooded across me, first as words of condemnation a mirror held up to reflect how far I had fallen, how I had failed that fourteen-year-old me then I came to the final sentence, “I really don’t know what you (me) will have done in five years, what I do know is that I will like you (me), I love you (me) and you (me) will always keep on trying!” with those words I remembered the teacher’s instruction us. We were to end with a sentence that would bring hope if we had not managed to accomplish all of our goals, a sentence that would tell a future self that there is hope and not to give up.
Armed with the knowledge that a younger me had faith in me I have gone on to complete a post graduate degree, marry the love of my life, surround myself with a loving family of children and grandchildren and to have many creative accomplishments.
I am now writing a letter to my 70-year-old self, describing the things I would like too have accomplished, and most importantly that I have faith that she will have done the best she could, that she finds joy in life, that she is loved and no matter what that I am proud of her.
I will sit down with my granddaughters over the next mouth and see if they are willing to write a letter of hope, and love addressed to a future self and how important it is to end the letter with a sentence of love, hope, self-love.