Notes to Your Former Self With Love

Crystal Jackson

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In case you needed a dose of hope today ...

Sometimes I wonder what I might say to my former, less secure, younger self if I had the chance. Would I warn myself about one-sided relationships? Would I advocate for self-love and more confidence? Would I talk about how much I wish I’d focused on learning rather than achievement? Would I tell myself to follow my dreams at all costs? I look back at years of lessons learned the hard way and wonder what I might have done differently if I knew then what I now know.

Even if I could go back and speak to that person, would the younger me even listen? Probably not. After all, she thought she knew everything. And in the words of Elizabeth Gilbert, “You don’t know until you know.”

But, what if I were to say the words to that younger me and let them reverberate to myself now? What if we can take these lessons to heart? I don’t know about you, but sometimes the girl I used to be creeps up inside of the woman I am now. I see glimpses of her, and while I admired the strength she had, I want to tell her that life does get better eventually. Harder — but better.

I hear her fears and her insecurities and the security blanket of stories she’s carried around long after she should have grown out of them. Maybe if I say what I needed to hear then, I’ll hear it now on those days that are tough, when my younger self whispers at the edges of my life.

I began to think of the essential truths that are universal to us all. I began to wonder how to abbreviate years of experience into simple advice to communicate powerful ideas. I thought about the advice I most need right now and then began to work backward. I thought about family and relationships and school and careers. I thought about our relationships with ourselves and with others and what we could learn that might make the world a little better, a little kinder, and a little more loving. I wanted to communicate to myself and to others some simple truths that are oh-so-easy to forget in our busy lives.

So, here are 50 letters to both our former selves and the people we are today.

To Whom It May Concern:

  1. Be brave.
  2. Speak your truth.
  3. Say no and don’t explain.
  4. Say yes to what you want.
  5. Let go.
  6. Live in love.
  7. Respond, not react.
  8. Listen.
  9. Be authentically yourself.
  10. Find your kindred spirits — the people who let you be yourself.
  11. Accept reality, but be the change when you can.
  12. Lean into the moment, and be present.
  13. Stop resisting change.
  14. Rest, but don’t quit.
  15. Be kind more.
  16. Learn to forgive.
  17. Enforce firm boundaries.
  18. Seek balance.
  19. Live your dreams, and chase your bliss.
  20. Break some rules.
  21. Appreciate your education.
  22. Don’t worry about what other people think about your life. They don’t get a vote.
  23. See challenges as opportunities.
  24. Invest in friendships.
  25. Don’t loan money to anyone; you are not a bank.
  26. Give when you can — without strings.
  27. Build your savings.
  28. Live an active lifestyle.
  29. Trust your intuition.
  30. Prioritize your overall wellness.
  31. You are enough.
  32. Love yourself more.
  33. Stop people-pleasing.
  34. Share your struggle.
  35. Ask for help when you need it.
  36. Go to therapy.
  37. Take responsibility for your life, and be accountable.
  38. Just keep going.
  39. Slow down.
  40. Forgive yourself.
  41. Create art.
  42. Worry less.
  43. Love more.
  44. Accept your imperfections — and celebrate yourself anyway.
  45. Trust that everything works out.
  46. Take more vacations.
  47. Say the thing you need to say.
  48. Speak with kindness and from a place of love.
  49. Be more vulnerable.
  50. Laugh more.

Sincerely with love,

All of Us

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Crystal Jackson is a former therapist turned writer. She is the author of the Heart of Madison series and a volume of poetry entitled My Words Are Whiskey. Her work has been featured on Medium, Elite Daily, Thought Catalog, The Good Men Project, and Elephant Journal. When she's not writing, you can find her traveling, paddle boarding, cycling, throwing axes badly but with terrifying enthusiasm, hiking, or curled up with her nose in a book in Madison, Georgia, where she lives with one puppy and two wild and wonderful children. Crystal writes about relationships, mental health, parenting, social justice, and more. Never miss an update. Subscribe to emails: https://crystaljacksonwriter.substack.com/

Madison, GA
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