CANDLE in the storm: Dear Younger Self

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Dear Younger Self,

I know you’re excited about the prospect of going overseas for the first time – and at the same time, anxious about leaving your comfort zone and venturing out into the ‘real world’. The unknown scares you but that’s okay. Girl you’re 15 going on 16…you don’t have to have it all figured out. Part of the beauty of life is seeing how it unfolds before us, and you’re only fooling yourself if you think you have it all figured out.

Having said that, you’re going to make mistakes. But you’ll learn from them. You’ll make the mistake of letting others tell you who you are, and believing in their criticism. You’ll try so hard to do everything right; to please those around you – so much so that you’ll end up putting way too much pressure on yourself.

I know you feel insecure and are worried about not being accepted. But don’t be afraid of letting your true-self show – stop walking on eggshells and hiding your opinions. You can’t please everyone and not everyone is going to agree with you.

College isn’t going to be easy. In fact, it’s going to be two years filled with copious amounts of worries, stress, all-nighters, tears…and also amazing memories which you’ll carry with you for the rest of your life. You will feel like you have to do everything perfectly – to be the best and brightest for people to accept you. But let me tell you something; your grades don’t define you, neither does the number on the scale. Those factors do not determine your self- worth.

There will be many times when you want to shut down and hide from the world. Days when you will feel worthless – but believe me when I say you aren’t! And that you’re still worthy of being loved despite your flaws.

My dear, I want you to know that you don’t have to strive for perfection. The imperfections and insecurities you see within yourself are actually what makes you unique. Don’t let others’ opinions change who you are.

Stay open and continue to love others with an open heart. You feel others’ emotions so deeply as if they were your own. When they cry, you cry along with them. When they rejoice, you share in their joy. But even so, you won’t be able to help everyone; to help them feel better or to solve all their problems. So don’t blame yourself over it. Be grateful to those who you are able to help, but don’t let yourself get emotionally drained by attempting to carry everything on your shoulders.

What matters is how much you love. How much you have the heart for helping others. And how much that love you show others can make a difference – even a small one. Love lasts. It always will.

Loving others is important, but don’t forget to show that same love to yourself. You spend so long feeling contempt towards yourself and tearing yourself apart…that you can’t see any of the positives within yourself. Don’t look into the mirror and cringe. We are our own harshest critics…so how you see yourself (inside and out), may not be how others or God sees you. It isn’t selfish to love yourself, and it is okay to forgive yourself for making mistakes. We’re all human after all.

There is no point either, in holding onto the guilt of past mistakes. All the ‘could’ve beens’ or ‘should’ve beens’. Learn from them and move on. Keep your chin up!

You’re also anxious and worried about the future right? I guessed it! Remember younger self…even though you’re far away from home, from your family; you’re not alone. If God is by your side, what more should you fear?

But if you ever start to wonder whether you’ll be strong enough to move forward in life, to face each day (yes there will be times like that) – ALWAYS remember that no matter what happens, or what you think…you can always run to your family, and run to God. They will never leave your side. Ever.

Despite all the times you will want to give up, you’ll be amazed by how much you grow, and how much you learn from all the things you will experience. You’ll also gain new experiences, and realise the true meaning of ‘the unconditional love of parents’.

I admit, it is going to hurt when you come to realise how fake some people can be, but remember…you’ll form friendships with some of the most amazing people. SO just forget the fake ones. Don’t let that hurt get to you.

Younger self, stay open and feel the freedom and joy that comes from embracing each and every moment with love. BUT, never lose that self-worth and self-confidence you once had…because I’m still trying to find mine.

Good luck and have fun! There’s a whole world of opportunity out there for you to enjoy!

Your older self

by Tiff, Sydney, Australia

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