I believe, at 16 years old specifically, there is a different kind of hope within us – especially as women. With much of our childhood behind us, but adulthood within our grasp, this was a big age for me – and most of us, as we begin to look forward to what we hope life will be like as we grow. Everything about me at that time, like a lot of teens, was based on what those around me believed about me before I even had the opportunity to step fully into myself. I wouldn’t have described myself as someone with low self-esteem or sadness because I didn’t feel free to express those feelings. But I didn’t believe in myself, I didn’t know how. And although I know that I’ve grown so much from that young woman, and I don’t believe going into the past is necessary for every situation, I felt that writing this letter and going back to that part of myself with the intention of showering her with love is not only powerful for her but for me as an adult as well. I also felt strongly that there were still so many stories and ideas that that part of me still held, and really just wanted to be heard and have sense made of all the questions that part of me still holds. I do believe, for me especially, that those parts of us are frozen in time – and they wait for us to shine a light on them so they can release and finally rest – no longer feeling as though they have to hold on to their old beliefs. No longer waiting for that adult, or those people in our lives to provide us with the answers that are now our job to provide for ourselves. As I get older, I see many versions of myself still showing up, no matter how many decades ago that they were. And she, and the stories that others told her about what they believed about the world based on the limiting beliefs that they were told, still live in me.
When you’re on the precipice of doing something grand, those younger versions of ourselves show up with their version of the truth in hand – and often we believe them – because even though we know better we’re still learning how to shift our cycles. We feel we’re reacting from our current emotions, and truly we are from a logical perspective, but emotionally, we’re reacting from the parts of us that feel that we’ve still not dealt with or honored their (our 16 year old self) feelings. Sometimes, shining a light on an area is less painful than sweeping it under the rug because it’s been on the ground so long we believe that it’s used to living there. Many parts of us are hoping to be picked up, dusted off, and put in their rightful place. And when we’re trying to do what our logical mind tells us is impossible (again because of limiting beliefs) we need to believe in who we are as much as we can. And one of the ways we can start to believe in the truth of who we are, is by having a conversation with these parts. Via journaling, voice notes, mediation, reflection with a friend – or a combination. But ultimately, letting these parts know you see them, you didn’t know what you know now, and now that you do, they can drop the load they’ve been carrying (your younger selves) and allow you to fully show up and take over.
This takes practice. This takes time. This takes slow walking. This takes immense self-trust. But overwhelmingly, it is freeing. I hope that by you journeying with me as I reach out to my 16 year old self, you’re inspire/encouraged to reach out to the versions of you that may have information for you.
I know that you have such big hopes for the future. I know that you’re scared. And I also know that there is so much inside you that you don’t know what to do with. But what I want you to know, is that everything you believe about yourself to be true isn’t fully fact. What you don’t know yet, is that much of what you’ve experienced up until this point (at 16), in the non-verbal conversations from a lot of the people in your life, doesn’t mean that you’re wrong or that you’re doing something wrong. It doesn’t mean that you aren’t loved and protected, which is what I know you believe. In fact, it has nothing to do with you at all and unfortunately is just the circumstances of other people’s lives that are inadvertently directly affecting you. And I know you’ve longed to hear that for so long, that you’re not wrong and that you are loved, so I hope that eases you to know that you are literally love.
I also know how important it is for you to be and feel accepted – by your friends, by your family, by your boyfriend, and really anyone you come in contact with. I know that right now you believe that by doing as much as you can to be there for others, that you’ll eventually be repaid. That eventually someone from somewhere will come in and swoop you up, saving you and making everything make sense. You and I have been waiting for that person for some time. But know that we eventually come to terms with the fact that we are that person, and also, that we’re already saved. Know that it will take some time to feel completely comfortable being who we are without the codependency. It’ll take some time to stop choosing relationships as a way to hopefully be saved from the feelings that right now you don’t even know are present. It’ll take some time for you to feel comfortable being who you are, asking questions, advocating for yourself, and ultimately feeling comfortable being a woman – who is strong, but also soft, smart, but also curious, a sexual being, but also with boundaries – all the things. It will take time, but in the meantime, know that through all of it, you are still literally love.
I know that when you see the way the next 10-15 years go, you’ll be shocked. Part of you, I know, is proud of how we’ve adopted a take no shit mentality. But I know there’s a much larger part of you that’s so thankful we learned how to soften. We didn’t know we’d been taught to be as hard and inaccessible as possible. Know that those who showed you this way of being really just wanted to protect you and know that you eventually learn how to use healthy and firm boundaries without closing yourself off. You’ll wonder what happened to the part of you that was willing to take a risk and RISK it all for the opportunity to be truly safe. And the definition of safety for you at this point was external validation. What I learned is that it would need to be an ever-flowing river of external validation for that version of safety to be true, and that because people are all doing what they can in their own individual lives, to expect anyone to give us that – would lead to constant disappointment – and also, it’s not healthy, and we definitely experience the evidence of this in our 20s. I know I never sat down to talk about it with you in this way, because I believed before that since you were watching (as an actual part of me) you’d have to be keeping up, right? I mean I believed that I just took all of these parts with me and they began to build on each other. But what I know for sure now, is that you’re still just 16, waiting for someone to come in and explain to you what’s happening – to assure you that everything is going to be okay (like the many other parts of us). And I hope that you understand that I believe it is, even if it looks so different than what we planned. PS. We learned plans are bullshit, and intentions are a lot better.
Ultimately, I want you to know that you don’t have to worry anymore. I know when I make decisions that you can’t comprehend or understand from the experience of what you believe at 16, you emit that feeling of fear. And often, it takes time for me to realize it isn’t my adult fear, but it’s the other parts of me that are still afraid. And, no we’re not crazy to have all of these parts of us in us. Actually, we all do. And many people don’t realize that the way they show up in the world is actually with a part of them that has completely taken over because of fear and disbelief in what the adult version of them can do and accomplish.
I wanted this chat because I knew you needed to hear it. I knew you were still waiting. And know that you don’t have to wait anymore, as we can chat anytime. What I’d ask is that, the unbelievable joy and fearlessness that you own, please grab on to that. As we get older, that is apart of us that seems to fade a bit. And I don’t ever want to lose that part of you.
And ps. I know you see you in our daughters. Trust that they’re getting what you’ve always asked for – and I know you feel it. I know that sometimes it’s hard because you craved it so badly, but know that’s why I’m here – to give it to you – to us.
Yassie, I’ve got this. And ultimately, we are being guided. So, now, rest easy, finally enjoy just being 16, and let go. I can and will take the reigns from here.
I love you.