On February 4, 2013, one of my favorite authors began a project where he proceeded to ask his twitter followers a variety of different questions for each month of the year. I decided to participate, and posted a few of my own answers here and there when I could come up with something worthwhile to mention. At first I thought it was just a fun little game, but the more I started reading the responses other people were submitting, I began to realize just how serious this was. (For information on this particular project, visit: http://journal.neilgaiman.com/2013/02/a-very-late-blog-about-trying-to-make.html)
Some of the questions were just for fun, but others were truly soul-searching. I wanted to reach through my computer screen on many separate occasions and hug some of the people who responded. For twelve hours, I felt a connection to complete strangers that I might never have experienced otherwise. I laughed with people, cried with people, from all over the world. I’m not sure Neil Gaiman ever intended to have such a reaction from his followers, but it is quite obvious that he received it nevertheless.
It was quite exciting watching all of the months pass by, reading all of the responses as they trickled in. The last question, however, was probably the most heart wrenching…
Seems like a simple enough question considering we have all lost someone that we would give anything in this world to see again. There were the typical answers you would expect to see in response to such a question (Typical, but still important to the equation), some had me staring at the screen with a wide open jaw, thinking “Wow… Perhaps my life isn’t so bad after all…” But some of the answers had me pondering….to the point that I’ve had this thought worm chewing on my brain for four days now…
Not only did these two answers in particular make me rethink my own answer (I said I wanted to see my best friend again who passed away before I could tell her goodbye), but it made me start reevaluating my own past. If I had a time machine, there would be a lot I would go back to tell myself. Admittedly I probably wouldn’t listen anyway, but I would at least try. For three days I pondered this… if I could go back…. what would I say?
I came up with the idea somewhere in the course of the past few days that I was going to sit down and write a letter to myself naming off a variety of things I would tell my past self if given the opportunity, but then realized I could make it bigger than that. I could make this a yearly project all my very own. As life goes on, we are all guilty of being caught up in the swing of things, of taking the little things for granted, and of not appreciating what we should in the time before it is lost. As each year passes, I want to write a letter to myself as a way to realize perhaps things aren’t as bad as I thought they were. A way to pull out the positive, so to speak.
Dear Younger Self,
Your mother and father don’t always know how to tell you, but they do love you. They are trying their best for you, even if there were always better options. Don’t hold so much against them, because that will drive a huge wedge between you that you will never be able to pull out.
I know you feel alone, and scared, but believe me when I say you are anything but alone. There are so many people in the world who know exactly what you are going through. Cutting is not the answer… All you are going to do is leave scars all over your body that you will have to answer for later. And you will. Trust me, you will. After a while you’ll begin to run out of excuses and, upon the inquirer the truth, you will receive pity. You don’t want pity, do you? Not to mention, they are going to serve as constant reminders each time you pull your sleeve up, and you’ll never forget just how much pain you were in.
I know you think suicide is the only way out, but I’m here to tell you that if you die, you will miss out on so much. You’ll meet some of the best people in the world. Put that bottle of pills down, put the razorblade away. It does get better from here, you just have to keep your head up and believe in yourself.
Stop spending all of your money trying to impress your friends and pay for your boyfriend’s stuff. You’re only 16, and he’s a grown man, he can do it himself. And if he can’t, then he needs to grow up as well. If your friends cannot be your friends when you do not have money, then they aren’t worth keeping around.
Learn to stand up for yourself. You will get so much more accomplished if you stop letting people take advantage of you. I realize you are trying to see the good in everyone, and give everyone the benefit of the doubt, but sometimes there just is no good to find. Hold those that love you regardless of what you have to offer closer, because in the end, those are the only ones who will stick around.
Don’t worry about those miscarriages you had, my darling. Soon you will be graced with the most beautiful baby girl you’ve ever seen in your life, and she will become your entire world. Please don’t give up hope, and stop thinking that you won’t be able to have children. She’s truly wonderful, let me just say that.
Don’t allow yourself to be pressured into marriage. Do not settle. Period. But at the same time you need to learn how to compromise a bit better. The relationships you were in were doomed to fail, you could not have helped that, but good things did come from them.
Stop letting the fears from your fast get in the way of your future. Your friends, your lovers, and your family cannot undo what has been done, and though they want to help you it is not fair to force the burden of your past onto them. What I mean is: The past is the past, the future is the future. Learn from your mistakes, but do not let them dictate your every move. You’re going to lose a lot of friends and learn this the hard way, but it is a valuable life lesson that you’ll carry with you from that point on.
Don’t ever start smoking. Seriously. You’ll become addicted to the habit, you’ll be irritable without it, and you’re going to miss out on a LOT. Yes, that means you lose your excuse to leave a crowded room when you want, but the benefits outweigh the sacrifices.
Remember that book you were trying to right in your senior year of high school? Guess what? I finished it. It isn’t published yet, but the people who have read it thoroughly enjoyed it. You’re a great, and talented writer even if you do not yet see it. Trust me though, you will.
And finally, love yourself. Love yourself more and more every day. Do not rely on the words of others. Compliments are one thing, but if you know you have a talent, don’t wait for someone to tell you they enjoy it. You’ll get nowhere. You could have joined choirs, you could have joined writing groups, so much could have been done with your life if you’d just stop letting the opinions of others rule your life. You’re beautiful, wonderful, and talented, and it is perfectly okay to accept that and believe it.
Your future self…
P.S. Seriously what kind of drugs were you on when you thought your handwriting was legible? Start writing clearly and NOT IN SHORT HAND if you want me to remember the notes you wrote me. Thank you.