Dear Me, (or should that be dear you? Dear us?... anyway... lol)
Greetings Earthling! How goes it with you? (I used to always start letters this way as a teenager! You know, back then when we had to write an actual letter in class, like on paper and hand it to a friend during the break folded in a groovy way. I'm soo old. When did this happen?!! What I mean, young people, if you can imagine this, is that this was before texting. Before mobile phones at all really. Wow. haha)
I wish you knew the things then that I know now, but you can’t possibly know them. I know how uncertain, alone, different, unpopular, ugly and insecure you feel. I have been you, remember. I know the only time you feel really alive, seen, like you exist and like you matter to someone is when you are with your friends. I know how much you want them to like you, how much of your time you want to spend with them and how much happiness they bring to your heart just by being there.
I remember how much you wanted to please them, impress them and even for some, to kiss and caress them! Lol I know all your secrets. I know your fears, your anxieties and your passions. I know how much of your identity was still unspoken, undiscovered and misunderstood. I can still feel your angst as I think of you.
I know how much of yourself you gave to your friends, and how little you felt you received in return. I remember you trying to be all things to all people as far as they would allow you. I can recall how hard you tried with new friends and how much you struggled to make them, and then to keep them. The pain you felt when they ended inexplicably despite your best efforts to show them whatever it was that they wanted to see is etched into my memory.
I know how invisible and worthless and sorry you feel when someone is ignoring you and not speaking to you, and how secretly betrayed you feel when the rest of your friends don't take your side and defend you in some way. I know you longed for peace and were always disappointed in yourself that someone would take issue with you when you tried so hard to be inoffensive and agreeable. I remember you almost trying not to exist! Isn't that ironic! Lol
I remember how much effort you put in to everyone. You remembered birthdays and made a fuss, you always remembered the details and remembered to follow up with friends about how scheduled events had gone. You always remembered to call before important events to wish someone luck. You were always as selfless as a selfish teenager could muster.
Even though it landed you in hot water many times, you almost never said no to requests for time, money, things, places or events. You always wanted to find a way to do whatever someone asked of you. You were frightened that if you said no, someone wouldn’t like you and they would leave you.
The thing is, some of them, many of them, almost all of them in fact will leave you as the years go on. They wont remember all the things that you did do, or the positive words and efforts of love and affection. Some of them will even actively dislike you. There will be periods in your life where you feel so alone as though you have not a single friend in the world. And this will pain you every bit as much as an adult as it does now. But you will learn something along the way. Something I wish you could know now, without all the painful lessons.
When people move away from you, it is about themselves, their lives, their circumstances, their values, their feelings, wants and needs. It is NEVER a reflection of yourself, your worth, your behaviours, anything you did or did not do, or anything you said or did not say, or anything you should try and change. In all your efforts to be someone who everyone else likes you neglect to be who you actually are. You neglect to like yourself. Many of the times you have said yes to someone else you have said no to yourself. In all the effort you put into knowing all about your friends; their hobbies, loves, fears, dreams and interests you neglect to know your own. You are a blank canvas. You are waiting for someone to discover you. To know you. To really see you and to understand you.
Rest assured those wonderful people who do see you, like really "see you, know you and understand you" are coming into your life, and some of them will even stay, but what is more important is not that they know and like you but that you know and like yourself. Paint something on your canvas so they can see you and not just a reflection of themselves. You were never very good at spending time alone. Your mother reminds you of this often. You always needed a friend around to fill that inner silence.
Embrace the silence. Just sit with it. Let it resonate and see what happens. I know you are uncomfortable with it, but that is how you learn and grow. As soon as you become comfortable with the silence, space between you and others won’t seem so threatening. As soon as you become who you are, people will like you for who you are and not only for what you offer them. You have a unique ability to see people and make them feel special, but don’t forget yourself. You are worth it. You cannot love anyone fully and genuinely until you love yourself. You are special.
You spent so much time focused on the things that you were not, and your perceived failings that I want to remind you of all the things that you are. You are beautiful, funny, kind, insightful, wise, honest, reliable, and true. You are creative and passionate and generous and unique and warm and understanding and open minded. You can do many of the things you think you can’t and you will do many things that you think you won’t. Be proud of all these things. Stop apologizing for your feelings, failures and fears. You will make horrible mistakes. Don’t let them define you. These are lessons and nobody expects you to be perfect, they only ask that you be as good as you can be.
You don’t want to say I love you only to hear it back, because if you live your life this way you will be constantly disappointed in the lack of love from others. Say I love you because you do love someone, and love yourself enough that it doesn’t matter if they love you back. Spend time with people who show love; you’ll recognize them instantly. Walk away from those who don’t. You don’t need to earn it. If they don’t love you pretty much straight away, they never will. You have a lot of love to give; give it freely but wisely. Know your limits.
Unfortunately your friendship struggles will stay with you all your life. The people who come and go from your life all have something to teach you. None of them are better or worse than you. None of them are bad people or out to hurt you. Of course they will. Forgive them. Sadly you will hurt many of them too. Forgive yourself. The best friend you have in this world is yourself. Be kind. Look in the mirror and smile. Allow yourself to feel pretty. When you win an award be proud, not embarrassed. When you want to try something, just try. Not trying is the only way to really fail. Laugh at yourself. You are not as great nor as awful as you imagine. Smile. Shine. Speak up. Say No just because you want to. Stop justifying yourself. Forget what everyone wants you to be, and just be who you are. It is ok. You made a difference to more lives than you realise. People are watching you. You are stronger than you think.
Friendships end. That is ok. You don’t end with them. I promise! Friendships fail, not the people involved. If I could leave you with just one thing it would be this “Everything works out alright in the end. If it is not alright then it is not the end.” You've got this. You can’t imagine this now, but you will be happy, loved, liked and never alone! You will be just fine. I am here for you. I am rooting for you. I wont let you down. I love you. And you will learn to love yourself too. The power is with you. It always was.
Your Future Self.
PS I don’t want to give too much away, as there are so many things for you to discover about yourself, but let me just give you one tip : You ARE a cat person. In more ways than one. ;0 lol Embrace it. Stop fighting and denying it!
P.P.S For old times sakes – I like writing P.S. (Those of you who were your younger selves on this journey with me will understand this, and I am grateful you are still here reading my letters!)