A couple of years ago I wrote a letter to my younger self after watching Michelle Obama read her letter to her younger while promoting her book, Becoming. I compelled to write one to myself and then forgot about it. Then last month one of my fellow Daily Feels blogger wrote a similar letter. It pulled mine out and now want to share with you. I would write the same letter today.
This letter was to my 16-year-old self. Not sure why I chose 16 except that I was going through a lot of emotional turmoil at the time (as most teens)- mostly self-inflicted but turmoil none the less.
I am writing this letter to you because I am compelled to give you a little bit of insight into what your future holds. I know how much you have been fighting against, let’s say, “the ties that bind.” Your mom, our mom, being a single immigrant Catholic mom raising three kids and caring for her mom in a foreign country is beset by what seems a most obsessive need to protect you.
Your dad will be MIA because of his struggles with addiction but eventually he gets it together. I promise you will adore him and he will adore you.
For a long time, it will seem that you are not being allowed to live your life or allowed to do any of the things your friends are doing. Remember these two very important things about friends and growing up:
- Most of your friends were probably embellishing (lying) about the things they are allowed to do (like go to movies, stay out late, have boyfriends).
- Your mom, our mom, was doing the best she could with what she knew at the time. Primarily trying to protect you.
At 16, you are a sophomore in high school. You have not been able to participate in any extracurricular activities, you are not allowed to date, you can’t wear makeup, you can’t go to the movies or mall. You don’t really like school so you’re just getting through.
You went to one high school dance, because your best friend at the time and her mom begged your mom to let you go. Your uncle walked you there and waited for you outside. Embarrassing much? After that you never asked again.
By your senior year you begged your mom to let you go to boarding school- a Christian boarding school – because you followed your brother into a Christian faith. Not because you were religious but because you were looking to get away.
At that boarding school, you will experience the first of many, many heartbreaks. And you’ll have your first physical fight with a friend…over a guy. Go figure. BUT here in this place you do gain some sense of independence.
You are going to begin to express your teen angst through poetry. You love it and it is an outlet though at times you may be a little dramatic. Books will be a huge escape for you as you love to live in a fantasy world and this is about the time you begin to experience some depression and anxiety but those are words not familiar to an immigrant Dominican parent so you keep it to yourself.
At 18, finally, you will begin to rebel and try to spread your wings and your mother’s words to you after a few months is “I hope you got this out of your system.” Ha! If she only knew. I know you hate your mom sometimes because she is so strict, that will change. She will become your best friend your biggest supporter.
Not knowing much about dating and relationships you continue to get your heart broken because you wear your heart on your sleeves. You are the eternal romantic. But this too shall pass.
By 23, you will be married and give birth to a beautiful baby girl. And though the relationship doesn’t last, you will choose wisely. You will choose a man who loved you to no end and he will give you two beautiful baby girls who he will parent and protect well. He will become your best friend.
After divorcing you will experience a long period of dating, searching for love yet giving yourself to men who will only use you. You will find love illusive and it will send you into cycles of depression and loneliness.
At 30 you will meet an employer who ‘believes in you’ and inspires you to go back to school. You will embark on, OMG, like 10 years of schooling. Getting two masters and various certificates in education, all in the search of self-worth and recognition.
You will struggle. You will struggle financially, romantically, professionally, but baby girl, you will always, always figure things out because you are more resilient than you know.
Just when you think your heart can NOT be broken any worse, someone will come along who will smash your heart to smithereens. Smithereens I tell you!
And guess what? You will surpass that too! It will take some time, but you will. Because like I’ve said before you have built an arsenal of self-protection that is hard to penetrate. Sometimes a good thing, sometimes not.
Men will find you difficult to love because of your wanderlust spirit and the thick walls you’ve build for around your heart. They will want to love you and control you, but will not and can not understand you and what drives you.
And that’s okay. Not everyone is meant to be understood and you are too strong and intelligent and beautiful for many. Men say they want strong independent women, but often hate what they wish for.
The good news is that none of this will break you. Each and every time you come out a little stronger, even if just for a little while.
The best part of you will be having two beautiful kids and later two even more beautiful grandchildren who will fill you with so much love and light that it makes the darkness so hard to get in, though it slips in at times.
You will become a professional in education and you will do well in it, until of course that restlessness finds you again.
You will start to narrow down your circle because you will finally begin to learn that it’s about quality not quantity.
And guess what- after all this- you make it to your 50s!!! Yay!
Your late 40s and 50s will be a time of renewal. You will continue on your personal growth journey. You will know yourself more and you will be closer to coming into your own.
Your resilience gets stronger and you will find that though you will continue to stumble and fail in relationships, parenting, finances, and your career- it will get easier to get back up and start and try again. Over and over again.
That is life. You, however, are not a quitter. By far.
You will have a family who adores you, friends who value you, jobs which at times are fulfilling – getting you closer to your calling.
Always remember that you are worthy of everything good in this world. And things will get easier.
My advice to you is stick to your guns, stick to your goals, become more consistent and never settle. Ever.
Your 50s will be off to a great start and things will only get better.
To you I say this- keep going. Keep evolving. Keep trying. Keep growing. Keep getting to know yourself. Keep getting back up.
Because at 50 the best is yet to come. Believe that girl! Believe it with your heart and soul.
Know you are loved and valued. I have high hopes for you and I am your BIGGEST cheerleader.
I can’t wait to see what the next 50 years brings for you!!!
Your 50-year-old self.
I am a 50-year old Latina divorcee who has been on a spiritual journey for, yikes, a really long time. Though I am not where I want to be, each day I do get closer to who I am meant to me.
I co-raised two young ladies and am a grandmother of two spunky, smart and funny kids – Max and Esme.
Education has been my niche for the last 20 years and I don’t know why. I wish someone had given me a career survey in high school or college to realize that #1- I am NOT a morning person and #2- I don’t really like kids, not even my own. So, I am searching for my passion. Not sure what that is yet. But there are a few things I am exploring, writing being one of them (that’s why I am here).
I have issues with commitment, not so much relationships but committing to my goals, putting in the work and seeing things through. But I did commit to making my 50’s the best decade ever. So far so good. I love yoga, traveling and writing; but mostly wine. Yes! I love wine.