What Showing up Today is about…
Showing up today is a site for letters to our younger selves, a sharing of the wisdom and lessons we've learned so far in the Kindergarten of life.
In my book Dive In - Unlocking Happiness and miracles, a memoir consisting of letters penned to my 20-year old self, I issued an invitation to readers to also share their words of wisdom with their younger versions.
"We have to sometimes dig deep to find those pearl bearing oysters in the depths of our lives- the events that happened to us and the lessons we learned from them. It is a sacred and scary thing, this diving in."
Writing a letter to your younger self is a way to draw together the strings of your life at whatever age you are at and weave an authentic, heart to heart conversation with yourself from it.
By taking charge of the stories we tell ourself about the shit that happened to us, the bad choices we made and the pain we experienced, we are able to transmute them into helpful shining examples of bravery and kindness to ourselves. It's a special kind of magic.
If life is indeed a learning school, I hope that it is, in fact, more like a Kindergarten, filled with giggling friends, daily field trips and bright stars awarded for just showing up - rather than a serious Harvard of the Universe.
It would be fun to read what you would like to tell your younger version about what is going to happen in your life, how to deal with it, what you've learned from it and what they need to know about life, love and everything else.
And maybe after we compare notes about our life's studies so far, we can have some milk and cookies and a nap under a warm blanket. Drifting away to dream of butterflies, clutching our gold stars in our hands, awarded for simply Showing Up in our lives today.
Write to firstname.lastname@example.org
This lovely letter was received from a reader who has requested to stay anonymous.
Dear younger me
I fear that love has not been kind to us over the years. You know that song by Amy Grant, “Baby baby”? Well, for us that fun music video is still the idealistic romance we’ve always looked at with a yearning heart. “I want that. Why can’t I have that”?
Instead for us, love has been challenging, complicated and in some ways limiting of our true self.
It hasn’t been that effortless soaring, where life becomes “And” – an expansive joy, instead of “Or” – a stable and warm but somehow lessening compromise.
In our twenties you still believe in the fairy tale very much, but unfortunately the soul mate you’re in love with is going to be so broken in themselves that you’ll have to leave, in self-defense. It will be one of the hardest things we ever do. The choice is between real love and utter self-destruction or this heartache of missing out. It’s a bugger of a thing.
Maybe the lesson is to embrace all the other beautiful types of love and friendships that will bloom in our life over the years.
Maybe the lesson is to never give up hope that it will somehow some day happen.
Maybe the lesson is to become a whole person ourselves, not needing someone else to complete us.
Maybe all of the above. Or none.
The stars are shining for you
And just like me I’m sure that they adore you.”
“And ever since the day you put my heart in motion
Baby I realize that there’s just no getting over you.”
Who wouldn’t want a love like that in their life? We still do.
your older, greyer self.
Our latest letter to a younger self is from Melissa (43) in Johannesburg.
Dear 20 year old me,
Stop being so hard on yourself. The greatest obstacle to our success if your own timid mind, afraid of your own thoughts, afraid of what other people might think of us.
Have the courage to go for your dreams. Our parents will want us to study law, but you know deep down inside that we are supposed to pursue our art and music.
Do not let them force you to waste five years of your life in studying something that you will ultimately move away from. Go for it now. Believe in yourself. And don’t be bitter towards them – they only want the best for you, even if they don’t really get it.
You are talented and even though it will take a lot of hard work to get there, you can do it.
I miss being you and having so much energy and adventures ahead. Enjoy the journey, have fun along the way and be grateful every day.
All my love,
Thank you for sharing your letter Melissa, that is very valuable advice for all of us, especially believing in ourselves and going after our own dreams. In our quest to make the people around us happy, we sometimes lose sight of the fact that it is not their life to live, but ours and that it is a precious, one-of-a-kind thing not to be wasted pursuing things that won’t make us happy. Much love, – Melanie
Tennis player Pete Sampras wrote a letter to his 16 year old self, as published on and reblogged from www.theplayerstribune.com
Dear 16-year-old Pete,
You’re about to go pro, and you’re pretty excited. Deep in your heart you know you’re eventually going to succeed. But believe me, it’s coming a lot sooner than you think. You’ll have your early ups and downs, but in just a couple of years, you’re gonna fight your way into the Top 5 in the world rankings, and you’ll win the U.S. Open, beating the likes of Ivan Lendl, John McEnroe and Andre Agassi in the process. At 19, you’ll be the youngest player to ever win the U.S. Open.
That’s when everything will change.
You’ll be an up-and-coming American with no exposure one day; then, when you wake up the morning after winning the Open, you’ll be on talk show after talk show. All eyes will be on you, and the attention will take some getting used to — it won’t mesh well with your reserved personality.
There’s more to being a pro than just playing tennis. The more successful you are, the more people will want out of you. It won’t always be something you’ll want to do, and it won’t always be fun. The pressure will be as exhausting as anything you’ll ever do on the tennis court. But as a tennis champion, you have that responsibility. You play tennis because you love the game, not because you love the limelight, so get ready. Think about getting some media training. It’ll go a long way. Luckily, you’ll be out of the game before these things called Twitter and Facebook come around. Be thankful for that. One day you’ll understand what I mean.Oh, and put the newspaper down. Don’t read what people are saying about you. No good can come of it. And if you do hear or read something negative about yourself, don’t sweat it. Let your racket do the talking.
You’re 16 years old and your life is just beginning, but don’t get sucked into always looking ahead. It’s tough because after every tournament — even when you win — your focus immediately shifts to the next one. Take time to appreciate your major wins and share them with your family and friends. Take advantage of your youth and enjoy it. The journey truly is the reward.Play hard, do it on your own terms and stay true to yourself. Do that, and you can’t go wrong.
It’s not only tennis stars that can benefit from looking back and connecting with their younger selves. What would you tell your younger self? Send your letter to email@example.com – share the wisdom and the hard-won experience with others, and send some love to your less wrinkled version…
Victoria Beckham recently graced the cover of Vogue Magazine in the UK (October 2016 issue) and as part of the magazine article, she reveals a letter she wrote to her 18-year old self.
The part of the letter that struck me the most is where she addresses her 18-year-old self sympathetically, revealing the insecurities that she faced as a teenager.
“I know you are struggling right now. You are not the prettiest, or the thinnest, or the best at dancing at the Laine Theatre Arts college. You have never properly fitted in, although you are sharing your Surrey school digs with really nice girls. You have bad acne. You think the principal has put you at the back of the end-of-year show (in a humiliatingly bright purple Lycra leotard) because you are too plump to go at the front. (This may or may not be true.)”
I think many girls can relate to that feeling of not fitting in, of feeling too fat. Even a beautiful fashion icon like her. There is a lesson there, I think.
She mentions the first moment she meets David, her future husband and she further writes about fashion:
“You are going to have so much fun with your clothes – PVC catsuits; chokers that say absurd things; weird spiky blonde hair. It will never occur to you that you appear ridiculous. You will turn up at awards ceremonies resembling a drag queen. But I look back at you and smile. It will add interest to your life to go from one extreme to another. I love the fact that you will feel free to express yourself.”
“Fashion will take on added stature one day, but try not to be stifled by it. You will learn, as you mature, to swap heels for Stan Smith trainers, minidresses for crisp white shirts. And you will never be one of those people who just roll out of bed.”
I found this very interesting and indicative of that whole learning and growing process we all go through in life.
You can read the full Vogue write-up Here.
What do you think? What would you tell your younger version? Do you want to share some of that hard-earned wisdom and maybe self-acceptance with the world?
You can send a letter to firstname.lastname@example.org
Dear Younger Self…
- “Who wouldn’t want a love like that? I want that. Why can’t I have that?” – Anonymous
- “Have the courage to go for your dreams” – Melissa
- Pete Sampras: “Play hard and do it on your own terms” – letter to his 16-year old self
- “I look back at you and I smile” – Victoria Beckham to her 18-year old self
- Zunia Boucher-Meyers’s letter to her 18-year old self: “You are beautiful! You really are.”
- Liz Gilbert: I would have told myself to focus on me, instead of boys, but I wouldn’t have listened.
- Serena Frank’s letter to her younger self: “Have more fun!”
- Oprah’s letter to her 20-year old self: Love yourself from your own heart
- Richard Branson’s letter to his 25-year old self: Let your dreams guide your path
- The letter that started it…