This post is my response to Day 6 of The Health Activist Writer’s Month Challenge hosted by WeGo Health. Today’s prompt: Write a letter to an older you (tell us what age you’re writing to!). What do you want to ask yourself? What lesson do you want to make sure you remember? I am going to flip this one around and write to a younger me instead.
Dear Eighteen Year Old Sarah,
Things are a little hectic for you right now. You’re angry and confused a lot of the time and you don’t really know why. They say that high school is supposed to be the best days of your life (before university, of course), but the truth is, university feels like a long shot to you right now. You’ve just gone through a summer of major surgery, pain and a hazy drug filled recovery to get as close to normal as your back will ever be. You feel physically more beautiful and are glad to put this transformation behind you. Somehow, this doesn’t make high school more easier. Every day you wake up dreading setting foot in your morning class and so you skip or find any excuse to leave early. You watch the other kids and wish you could be like them, but you still feel fundamentally different. You can’t explain it. It will be several years before you can.
You don’t like who you are right now, you can feel it deep down inside, but you don’t know how to fix it. Going out and spending time with people who don’t really care about you or your future won’t change how you feel about yourself, although it feels good at the time. You just want to be like everyone else and you think this will help. You’re a little lost but you’ll find your way soon. You’ll start volunteering for a wonderful organization and it will lead you to discover your passion. You will go onto university, one of the best decisions of your life, and you will continue to learn and grow as a young lady. You will take courses that you love, meet professors who will challenge you and write assignments that will change your life. Finally, you will be able to name and define the feelings that were so strong but you could never articulate or explain. Uncertainty. Vulnerability. Medicalization. Authenticity. Performance. You needed time to discover this, and you will need more time to truly accept yourself as you are. It will slowly come.
Right now, you may feel like you’re alone but you’re not. You have a great support system and they’re in your corner. Don’t ever forget that. They can’t see through your eyes or always feel what you’re feeling, and it frustrates you sometimes, but they’re there and they’re trying. Be gentle with them and try to remember this advice as you grow.
What I also want you to remember, Sarah, is that there is a huge world out there waiting for you to discover it, and in turn, to discover yourself. You will learn to embrace what makes you unique and feel more open about sharing that with others. Challenge yourself and you’ll be surprised with what you find.
Most of all – be kind to yourself, to others and keep moving forward.
Your older self.