My wonderfully talented and artistic friend Zunia Boucher-Myers recently wrote a wonderful letter to her 18-year old self, after a friend that she studied photography with posted some photos on Facebook of her, when she was 18. She writes of this photograph:
If I tell you that I had a physical reaction to them, I am not kidding. Here was a familiar face staring back at me, and I realized how wrong I have been for all these years. Not only was the girl in the pictures thin (!) she was delicately beautiful.
Behind the images is a story of a girl that was sexually abused as a little girl, physically abused by a lesbian girlfriend*, and an insecure and vulnerable individual who hid her pain behind her sense of humor.
Looking at myself at 18 has made me walk through memory lane, looking at my past and reliving some of the most momentous experiences of my life up to now.
And what this has made me realize is that I have made it.
Perhaps not in the exact way that I thought I would, but damn near enough.
I wanted to be a poet, an artist and a baker.
I have done all of these things to a more or lesser degree. I have had my poetry published, as too articles in magazines, exhibited and sold my art as well as my photography and I co own a restaurant where I bake almost daily.
My concept of fame may be completely different to that which I had initially aspired to all those years ago but that which I have achieved is valid and real and meaningful to who I am now;
I have addressed groups of women, some as large as 400 at a time, I have coordinated the most powerfully transforming events and have been invited to speak publically at various charities and events.
Having been so desperate to be loved I had perhaps been too keen to step into relationships that may have not been ideal, however these made me learn so much about me.
So to my 18 year old self I would like to say:
- You are beautiful. You really are. Not conventionally in the chocolate box kind of way, but more in a porcelain doll or Greek Nymph kind of way. And you are thin. Enjoy it.
- You do not need to change who you are in order to be loved. The right person WILL come along (this I promise) and will love you unconditionally just the way you are. They will also think you are drop dead gorgeous and seriously sexy. But I digress.
- Stop being afraid of what other people think of you. It is none of your business and spending time in pain or anxiety over this will just rob you of precious happy time and energy.
- Look after your physical as well as mental wellbeing. Dieting for 30 years is really a drag and living in a constant state of denial is enough to make anyone depressed. Especially you.
- Find things that make you happy, such as Tai Chi, meditation, dance, swimming and going to the gym. Music inspires you, so use it to make yourself move. You will love yourself and the world for it. Also you will meet wonderful people along the way.
- Be honest. (point 3 applies here as well) the more honest you are, the taller you will walk and the more authentic you will live.
- You will have more than one love of your life. Be open to stepping out of your comfort zone and truly living in the moment.
- As big as your dreams are right now, you will accomplish more. Your tenacity, courage and fearlessness in the face of adversity will create situations that will enhance your life, many times.
- Love your Mom and Dad. Yes, and forgive them for being human. They are your greatest allies even tho you may not believe that right now.
- You are highly creative and talented, but you need at least 8 hours sleep to be of any use to anybody!
- Stop feeling shame for being a sexual being. Sex can be so much more than you imagine. Let the past go and revel in the fact that you are desired, sexy and love sex. But be safe at the same time. Never have sex out of guilt and never use sex as a weapon.
- Not everything people do is about you or because of you. The fact that you are highly sensitive and highly emotional can at times cause you to behave badly and obsess to the point of madness. The sooner you learn to take nothing personally, the happier you will be. This will be a very hard lesson to master. But you will. I hope.
- Live your life in the now. Be present. Life is really very, very good. You are so blessed, so lucky, so loved that when you look back you will be amazed at just how good it all was. And is.
- And finally, I am sorry. That I did not believe in you, trust in you or treat you as well as I should have. When I look back to this moment from the future I will know that this was a catalyst for change. That starting right now I will be enough; pretty enough, wise enough, educated enough, thin enough, healthy enough, strong enough. Just enough. And I thank you. From the deepest part of me, for overcoming, for rising above and for not giving up. Ever.
You rock Sista, and I love you.
Me at 47.
Reblogged with kind permission from JUST NOT LIKE THE OTHERS. (I know – aren’t I lucky to have such awesome people in my life? – Melanie)