If I had known then what I know now…
People in our lives play a significant role in shaping how we see ourselves.
When we're young and impressionable, we look up to the adults around us to model our behavior. Our parents, grandparents, teachers, uncles, aunts, and family friends contribute to the identities we create.
If, for instance, you're often told that you are dumb or ugly, you grow up believing those things. They end up becoming part of how you define yourself.
When I was little, I had people who believed in me. I had people who encouraged me and valued my creativity. But there were also people who did the opposite.
My letter to little old me
If I could send a letter to my younger self, I would write:
You are enough.
Yes. You are.
Throughout your life, you will encounter people who will try to make you feel small. Don't let them. Keep dreaming big.
For some reason, people feel the need to shame your body. They're projecting their insecurities onto you.
Please believe me when I tell you that you are beautiful. Every mole, every freckle, every scar is part of who you are. Yes, you're not thin, and that's okay. Thinness is not a synonym of beauty.
I wish you could see that your body is strong. It truly is. Use your body to dance, to swim, to go places, to make love. Connect with your body. Nourish it, embrace it, take care of it.
People will feel threatened by your creativity and your ambition. That’s a reflection of their shortcomings, not yours.
You’re hungry for knowledge, for growth, for discovery.
Your ambition is rooted in a deep desire to connect with other worlds and other people.
You’ve been told to hide your desires and to feel shame for wanting to be many things. And you're not one thing, Andrea. No, you're many, many things. And that's amazing.
I know you feel angry and don't know what to do with this anger. It's okay. You have been hurt, and you have a reason to feel anger.
You have been told that you have nothing to feel angry about. But you do. You can be mad at your dad for being so hard on you. You can be mad at your mom for not standing up for you. You can be angry and still love them.
You are not your anger.
Yes. Maybe you shouldn't have stolen the car that one time. That was a mistake, but you paid your price for it too.
It's okay to make mistakes. I know you hate making mistakes, but let mistakes be a lesson and not a burden.
You are not your mistakes.
Finding out who you are
You will struggle to figure out who you are. You want to please all the people in your life, and that's impossible.
What do you want? It's okay if what you want is not what other people want for you or from you.
Say no. It's a powerful word, and the more you use it, the more comfortable you will feel setting boundaries.
Accept who you are
You're not the life of the party, and that's okay.
You're not good at small talk, and that's okay.
You're more comfortable observing, and that's okay.
People will make assumptions about you. That's fine. Let them think whatever they want.
You’re a compassionate, caring, impulsive, creative, funny, giving, shy, instrospective human being.
You worry about the planet. You care about injustices. You wish people were friendlier and kinder.
Accept that by being a highly sensitive person, there are things that will affect you more than they do others.
Accept that you like talking about serious stuff, even when others are not interested.
Accept that you're changing, evolving, learning, growing every day. Who you were a year ago isn't the Andrea you're today, and that's a good thing.
Loving yourself might be the hardest thing you ever have to do, but you have to love yourself.
To love yourself, you must forgive yourself too. You're doing your best with what you have.
Perfection doesn't exist. It will forever be out of reach.
By loving yourself, everything else will fall into place. When we love ourselves, we're more capable of setting healthy boundaries, doing the things that bring us joy, and establishing our priorities.
You're a person who feels and who empathizes. Don't ever lose that.
Put yourself out there. Put your writing and your videos and your photographs out there. No one has to like your work but you.
Last, let other people help you from time to time. Asking for help is not a weakness. It means you recognize that to survive in this maddening world, we need others to thrive.
Do your best; that's all you can do.
your older self.