A Letter to Myself (To My College Self)

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Impromptu college photo shoots were the best.

Dear college me,

Remember high school freshman orientation when your principal said, “These are the best four years of your life”? He was clearly wrong. The best four years of your life are your college years.

I speak from a place far, far away—I come from the future. Great Scott!

part high quality future great back

Go figure, I just had to throw in a Back to the Future reference.). But since future me has been in the “real world” for a few years now, I can say from experience that so far, the college years were some of the best years of my life.

Sure, I know right now you’re probably reading this while procrastinating on a paper you should be writing for Honors, or Spanish, or Creative Nonfiction…or maybe all three. Right now you’re probably panicking about how busy you are, how there never seems like there’s enough time in the day to get all these papers done. You wish that the coffee shop on campus was open 24 hours (and just an FYI: you will miss those delicious coffees more than you can even imagine).

I’m probably being a bad influence right now, but keep procrastinating for a little longer and let me school you with some knowledge. Just kidding. But I do want to fill you in on what I wish I would have known during college:

1. It’s okay to stress out. What you’re doing right now? It’s normal. You’re a college student. You are an Honors student. You’re double-majoring. You’re writing for the college newspaper. You have a lot on your mind, and that’s perfectly okay. Taking steps to reduce stress, as long as it’s healthy, is always a good idea. It’ll be a few years before you heed my advice, but let me just tell you now: Yoga does wonders. Honestly. You’ll thank me later.

2. Enjoy the adventures. Throughout your college years, you will have opportunities to travel to new places around the country, and for the first time, you’ll finally set foot outside the United States, traveling to Greece.

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Ending college with a bang at the Acropolis in Athens, Greece.

Trust me: Right now, that will be the opportunity of a lifetime, and it will forever be one of the most beautiful places you’ve ever seen. Take it all in, take tons of photos, breathe, close your eyes, and appreciate the beauty of the world around you. You’ll remember these moments for years to come.

3. Life post-college is just as confusing/stressful/complicated/weird as college life is. No, even in your mid-20s, you still won’t have life “figured out.” Will we ever have it figured out? Who knows. But what I do know is that life will take you to places you never thought you’d end up (like New Jersey and New York City).

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Sunset at the most beautiful beach in Ocean City, New Jersey.

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Walking along the Brooklyn Bridge to catch the New York City Marathon.

Your life will probably always be unpredictable, but isn’t that what makes life thrilling?

4. As a millennial, you and millions of other college grads around the country will deal with paying back student loans. 20-somethings everywhere are in the same boat as you are, so you don’t need to feel alone. Even though the idea of student debt is daunting, places like Earnest exist to help students refinance your loans. They also help students understand finances better, which is obviously important for all of us. Adulting outside of college is tricky, but finding the right resources to help you will only help you out in the long run, so no worries.

5. There is no timeline for chasing after your dreams. You may compare yourself to others around you, and in case you were wondering, you’ll compare yourself even more once you’re out of college, unfortunately. Social media plays into it because we only post what we want others to see. You’ll see people living lives that you’re slightly jealous of. You’ll wonder what you’re doing wrong. The answer: Nothing. You’re walking along the path that’s right for you. You’re taking steps towards where you want to be physically, mentally, and emotionally. Just know that comparing yourself to others is natural, but the path you are on is uniquely yours.

6. You are capable. I know you, and I know that voice of insecurity. Even if you don’t believe me right now, just know that you are capable of success, in whichever way that may be. You are capable of finding peace. You are capable of finding day-to-day happiness. You are capable of finding security—security in your identity, in your present life, in your future. Just know that right now where I am in life, I am on that journey towards achieving all of those things. Yes, there will be dark times that you may feel you won’t emotionally survive. But somehow, you will. The journey only continues, and you will walk on.

7. It’s okay to love yourself. Your college years will be the most inspiring years of your life (at least they have been so far), so please take advantage of these years. Relish in those moments of confidence, inspiration, and self love. Loving yourself isn’t vain—loving yourself is crucial to living with yourself. After some rocky years post-college, I know that. I live that. So I just want you to love yourself and be proud of it.

I’m sure right now it’s nearly midnight, so you should probably get back to the papers you’re procrastinating on. I know you might be a little bundle of nerves, but honestly, I think that’s just a part of the college experience. To be honest, I’m slightly jealous of you. Life outside of college is another world entirely, and even though I don’t miss the stress of college, I miss the atmosphere. So breathe it in, write in one of those fancy journals until your hand cramps up, drink too much coffee, and always say yes to movie nights with your friends down the hall. You’ll never, ever regret it. Just know that I love you. I always have, and I always will.

Love,

Future Me

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All we can do sometimes is laugh our way through life.

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Someday (Letter Three)

Someday, this will be a memory. Someday you'll be okay.

Someday, this will be just a memory. Someday, you’ll be okay.

This is my third letter to myself. I know, I write letters to myself a lot. But writing in itself is cathartic, and this letter-writing technique has proven to be just what I needed.

Letter One

Letter Two

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Dear Me,

Maybe one day I’ll stop writing you letters.  Right now, I haven’t yet said enough. It’s crucial to communicate with you.

Today is one of those beautiful “good” days. Your thoughts are clear, and you feel in control.

I cannot, however, explain why your negative thoughts surrounded you a couple of days ago. They swarmed like bees, stinging you again and again. They made their way into your mouth, down your throat, and suffocated you. You collapsed, succumbing to these thoughts instead of controlling them. That day, your negativity controlled you.

At this point in time, I still cannot pinpoint what causes these turbulent meltdowns. Thankfully, they are rare. The clear days seem to outweigh the ones clouded with questions, judgments, and labels.

That most recent dark day was darker than usual. The negative thoughts surrounded and stung so quickly, it made more sense to stay still, hoping they’d just move on. Swatting them away would only make them more aggressive. But on this particular day, they were relentless. You had no defense to guard yourself from the attack.

No matter how painful those thoughts stung, and no matter how unexpected it was, one thing is certain:

You made it. You made it to a day in which you feel in control. Do you know what that means?

It means that someday, you’ll be in control. Someday, your realistic thoughts will outweigh the negatives. Someday, these thoughts that drive you to a meltdown will no longer matter. They won’t sting. They will roll away to the back of your mind, and slowly fade.

For now, you are stronger than I ever thought you would be. You have been fighting against those negative thoughts with all of your being. Instead of surrendering to the questions, obsessions, the insecurities, you are challenging them all. This is a strength you didn’t possess four years ago.

This strength takes work. Every day. You work every day to treat yourself with respect. To be realistic. You know that the dark days don’t happen often anymore, but they aren’t over for good.

That’s okay. I mean it.

Acceptance is the most difficult part of moving on. I don’t mean acceptance of the situation. That may never happen. It’s my belief that while you can acknowledge what happened to your relationship (an arson set fire to it), you may never “accept” it. Maybe you will. That remains to be seen.

What I mean by acceptance is your acceptance of your mistakes and emotions. I want you to accept your occasional meltdowns. The bad days. The missteps. They happen. I want you to accept that just like perfection doesn’t exist anywhere in the world, you aren’t perfect, either. Expecting perfection from yourself is setting yourself up for disappointment.

I also ask that you strive to be patient. You are coping in a healthy way this time around, but please don’t beat yourself up on the dark days. Accept them as a part of the process, and know that these days will become significantly fewer in time.

Trust me, it’s okay.

I want you to accept yourself because someday, you will be okay.

Someday, none of those negative thoughts will even be thoughts anymore.

Someday, you won’t have meltdowns over this. They will be memories that shaped you.

Someday, you will be apathetic about this time period of your life. You will no longer hate him, or her, or yourself. You will understand that this was just a part of your life, but you won’t be angry forever about this.

Someday, you won’t blame yourself. For now, please, even on your darkest days, STOP.

No matter how confused you are, no matter what dark corners of your mind those negative thoughts drive you to, just know that it never was your fault. You couldn’t have done anything to prevent it, you aren’t the one who caused him to hurt you, and you did not deserve it. Please, no more “Why me” or “What’s wrong with me” or “What did I do.”

“Why me?” It could have happened to anyone. Honestly, it’s just a shitty reality in life.

“What’s wrong with me?” Nothing. At least, speaking in the terms of this situation, nothing. Do you have flaws? Yes. Does everyone have flaws? Yes. Did your flaws drive him to sleep with someone else behind your back? No. Hell-to-the-no.

“What did I do?” Nothing. In terms of what I know you mean, you did nothing to deserve someone to lie to you and betray the relationship you thought you had.

Every thought you have should help you, not hurt you. Obsessing hurts, anger hurts, insecurity hurts, negative self-talk hurts. While I know that it feels impossible on the dark days, but you have to just stamp out these behaviors. There’s no other way around it. I will not allow you to accept these behaviors, because they cause you pain.

Ask yourself, “Is this helping or hurting me?” If it’s an obsession, angry or negative thought, or an insecurity, it will automatically be hurting you. In these times, it’s crucial to pull away and distract your mind.

Just know that I love you, I’m proud of you, and you are amazing for your strength right now. You have progressed so much, and you are coping with this better than I ever could have imagined.

You’ll be okay someday.

Love,

Me

A letter to myself: take two

You'll be okay. I promise.

You’ll be okay. I promise.

Dear Me,

You feel bipolar. This morning you woke up refreshed, giddy, assured. Tonight, you’re a mess. Dark, desperate, insecure.

You will feel bipolar for many months. Trust me. Just when you think it’s over, it’s not. Your bliss will be shattered by stabbing pain that chokes you.

The thoughts are evil voices in your head. Sick obsessions that you have to shake off but can’t. You can’t communicate with the little devils. You shouldn’t answer their questions, even though you formulate your answers:

“Yes, she’s prettier.”

“No, I wish I hadn’t met him.”

“Yes, I’m sure they’re dating already.”

“No, she can have him. I’m done.”

“Yes, I’ll be okay someday.”

“No, I’m done with relationships.”

You fear falling asleep and recalling the nightmares when you wake up. But you have to admit, the dream of punching him in the face was worth remembering.

Emotional stability is a thing of the past. You latched onto it briefly, and here you are, back to daily uncertainty. A briefcase full of emotions that seem to appear out of nowhere.

The questions you ask yourself everyday are crushing. Your thoughts are eating you alive. Without positive thoughts, you’ll waste away.

I’m sorry. I’m sorry that no matter how thick your armor, you cannot shield yourself from the pain. Time does nothing but dull the wounds, scar the cuts, yellow the bruises. It can never be erased. You will carry it with you for the rest of your life.

And that terrifies you. You are scared that you’re the girl who needs fixing. The girl who’s broken. The girl who’s fucked up. Yes, that is maybe what you are right now.

You’re in recovery. You experience triggers every day, and right now, your reactions are negative. Music, movies, and television shows centered around relationships are intolerable. It must be anti-love or avoid the theme altogether. You almost gag at any mention of his too-common first name. Discussions of relationships in general give you snarky thoughts.

Recovery is torture. It’s a jagged path of glass. Every day you stumble along it, walking until you have to crawl. Your whole body is bloodied, and even then, it’s not over. The cuts that begin healing will reopen. Over and over.

Not only do you not believe in love (romantic love), but you also believe it to be a joke. A sick joke. Maybe a trick. Bigger than just a lie. An over two-year long April Fools.

You feel duped. Scammed. The girl who believed she won the lottery, if she only mail in a payment of $500. You wait for the big money, and while everyone is telling you it’s a scam, you don’t believe it.

Yes, you were tricked. Scammed. The butt of the joke.

I’m sorry. I know you look in the mirror and feel like a joke, but you’re not. You didn’t deserve it.

One day, your thoughts will evolve. You’ll learn to replace every “Why?” with “Who cares?” Every “What did I do?” with “It wasn’t my fault.” Every “I’m not good enough” with “I’m good enough for myself.”

One day, you won’t roll your eyes. One day, you won’t be haunted. Yes, it will take months, but it is in your future.

I know most of your thoughts are centered around “her.” You can’t help wondering what she had to make him sleep with her, to lie to you, and to keep him running back to her for more.

Newsflash: it doesn’t matter. None of it.

What does matter?

You.

Your smile, your body, your mind, your future, your emotional well-being, your physical well-being, your self-worth. All the aspects encompassing your relationship with yourself matter. Currently, all of those things are in jeopardy. And you know it.

You are rebuilding, learning, stumbling. You feel like a stranger trapped in your own body. You are ashamed and confused. You feel like a teenager having the classic “Who am I?” crisis.

Embrace that crisis. The past two and a half years, you forgot about you. Embrace this twisted but necessary opportunity to get to know yourself again.

Someday, you may meet someone. But please, keep your armor on. Wear your mask. At the FIRST sign of bullshit, RUN. The days of being nice are over.

Don’t, under any circumstances, feel obligated to be nice to someone who gives you bad vibes. Too much kindness is a sign that you are weak, and you cannot allow anyone to take advantage of you.

“His” words mean nothing. “I love you,” “I want to marry you,” “I’m not seeing anyone,” and “You’re the most beautiful girl in the world” was all code for “I’m a liar.” Yes, it’s a slap in the face, and he scammed you. No, that does not make you an idiot. Or gullible.

You trusted him. A mistake, yes. But if you do meet someone who could possibly be worth your time, don’t trust him immediately. I’m sorry to be a bitch, but after the fire you escaped, trust is no longer given. It is earned. This means you are a realist, a skeptic, and cautious until he has proven to be respectful, worth your time, honest, and kind. Those qualities are things you’ve neglected to search for in the past. Now, you won’t.

All that matters is you. Not her, not him. Thoughts of them are only keeping you prisoner. I know you can’t forget, and you never will. But as every second ticks by, you are one second closer to being “okay.” To being “moved on.” To hopefully being “happy.” And I mean genuine, self-accepting, contented happy. The happiness that only grows from a healthy relationship with oneself.

Right now, make that your mission. Allow positive thoughts to enter your mind because bullying yourself will only drive you further into darkness. Please.

Just know that you deserve to BE. You deserve to be confident. You deserve to be happy. You deserve to love your body, your mind, and your flaws. You deserve to be surrounded by people who mean what they say, appreciate you, and truly love you. You deserve to one day live without fear of being hurt, mistreated, or used.

Most importantly, you deserve to look in the mirror with pride in who you see. You deserve to live with yourself not as a stranger trapped in this body, but proud of it. You deserve to accept who you are, and accept that you will be okay someday.

Source: livefrommyheart.wordpress.com

Source: livefrommyheart.wordpress.com

You matter.

Love,

Me

A letter to myself (and girls everywhere)

Source: empowermagazine.com

Source: empowermagazine.com

Dear me (and you),

This black hole is familiar. You traveled down it roughly three and a half years ago. Back then you said to yourself, “I’ve never been this hurt.”

I’m sorry to be the bearer of bad news, but that has changed. Right now, you have never been this hurt. Three and a half years ago was a cake walk compared to wrenching the knife out of your back now.

You reach your arms back to grasp it, twist it left and right, but somehow, the knife lodges deeper. You drop your arms to your sides.

Every day is like an alternate universe. You wake up each morning, hoping you dreamt it, but when reality hits, you wish you could fall asleep again. You’d rather have nightmares than be awake for real life.

No matter how many, “You’re a great girl! You’ll find someone better!” comments you hear, right now you only blame YOU.

Your brain is screaming, “What’s wrong with me? Why am I not good enough? Why is this happening to me? What did I do to deserve this?”

Subconsciously you know those thoughts are irrational. But when you’re spiraling downward, down the rabbit hole, you can’t think straight. When the reality is that he found someone else, someone prettier, someone better, it’s impossible not to blame yourself.

Three and a half years ago, you swore you wouldn’t allow someone to hurt you again. You broke that promise. You put your stitched up, bruised little heart in his palm. And he squeezed it. The contents are everywhere. Exploded on the wall.

How can you clean yourself up now? You may as well get out the mop.

Weakness and naïveté aren’t what caused this. It wasn’t stupidity. No matter how much you think that, it’s not. It was hope.

Despite the pain cutting you up every day, you had hope. A tiny sliver of light peeking through the tunnel of depression. While humanity crushed you, you had hope that he was the one coming to pick you up. To save you from yourself.

I’m sorry. So sorry that he is another enemy you have to guard yourself from. I’m sorry that your armor is back in place, that you’re wearing your mask once more, and that you’re fighting against anyone breaking through. I’m sorry that life is a war for you right now.

The familiar pain is unavoidable. I wish I could fast forward it, numb it, erase it. I know you vowed never to be “here” again, but history repeats itself.

Romantic movies, love songs, or anything that remotely reminds you of that knife sticking out of your back will cause the downward spiral. Falling asleep and waking up are the most painful times of every day. He will haunt your dreams. He will become another ghost you’re battling to forget. You’re terrified he has already forgotten you. Never in your life have you wished time travel to be possible more than you do now.

You can’t erase him. You can’t forget. No amount of time can change that. You will hate him. But the memories will fade to another lifetime. Someday, he won’t matter anymore. He will be a ghost who no longer haunts you. Just like the last.

It takes longer than you’d think. Time is another one of your enemies.

I know you’ve given up hope. I know that “love” is just another four-letter word. But hope will creep back into your life. I promise. It’s okay to give up for now. It’s okay to be a mess. It’s okay to hate him.

One day, you’ll know it wasn’t your fault. You’ll look at yourself in the mirror again. You’ll smile. You will see a girl you’re not ashamed to be.

No matter how isolated you are, know that you’re not the only one. You’re fighting the same battle as thousands of other girls (and guys) out there.

Someday you’ll accept that it wasn’t your fault. It never was. Once you realize this, you will reach back, rip the knife out of your back, and the gash will stop bleeding.

Even if no one else can be trusted, and you believe that everyone is out to hurt you (I know it may appear that way at times), be your own ally. Right now is a time to trust yourself. It’s crucial.

You will save your life.

I love you.

Sincerely,
Me