Writing assignment: write a 500 word letter to a younger version of yourself.
This assignment makes me uncomfortable. I took some of my biggest vulnerabilities and summed them up in 500 words, as I wrote a letter to a version of myself that is 10 years younger.
Congrats! You just turned twenty. I’m writing you tell you that you’re going to be ok. The path you’re on is fine. The people you have in your life are great. Your decision-making is good. And with all that being said, the mask you’re showing the world is flawless. And you and I both know you’re far from flawless. I’ve watched you remain in the shadows, scared to show the world the weak areas of your life. I’ve watched you put up walls, preventing the world from seeing the other side of it, basically protecting yourself from someone feeling anything but positive of you. You’ve been hiding. Your insecurities and ability to put up walls will always haunt you if you don’t learn to let go of this desire for perfection.
You’ve always been so close to a breakthrough, but the problem is: you’ve played it safe for too long. Go out there and take some chances. Get out there and learn names. You’ll spend a decade telling people you’re an introvert and you suck at remembering names, but I’ve watched you prove that you’re neither of those things. You turned 30 and within just a few months, you became outspoken and could name every person in the room. Nothing changed, other than your ability to be intentional. Don’t look at your flaws and put a label on them, chalking them up as who you are. Instead, work on those areas of your life. You’re a work in progress, but the progress will never come if you’ve established your weaknesses and continually promote them as absolutes.
I’ve watched you spend a decade making art out of the negatives in your life. And although that art turned out to be powerful, you were basically dwelling. Instead of talking about your family’s shortcomings, find ways to build them up. Find ways to empower them. If you’re going to make art about your their flaws, in that same art, make sure to have an answer for them as well—and make sure to be right there with them as they’re trying to find those answers. You’re no better than them. You’ve been in a hole before, and it would’ve been impossible for you to climb out of it if you had someone publicly being creative about the things that are keeping you down.
I’m proud of you for being creative, but I’ve watched you spend too many days, weeks, months, and years not writing. Find a pen, find a keyboard, and put words down. Once you’ve written them, they can never be taken away from you. But only having your ideas as thoughts, with nothing to show for it, will only leave you with regret. If there’s a problem in your life, write about it. Take this maze in your mind and find your way out through words. It’s the only way.