If I could write a letter to younger versions of myself, here’s what I would say…
Dear 18-year-old me:
It’s gunna be ok. You may not be going away to college, but you will still graduate. It’ll take 10 years instead of 4, but you will persevere. Take it slow, only take on what you can handle. You’ll get there eventually. Leaving high school means losing touch with people, figuring our who your true friends are, and learning to embrace parts of yourself you never wanted to shine a spotlight on. You’ll keep touch with those you were meant to keep in your life. And the new friends you make in a few years will be some of the best, truest, most amazing ones you’ve ever had.
Dear 20-year-old me:
It’s gunna be ok. You may be sleeping on the floor, living in a 2-bedroom apartment with 5 guys and another girl, but this too shall pass. You will meet some amazing friends who will invite you into their home, share food with you, and help you get back on your feet. In 8 years, you will be photographing their newborn baby boy for them when he’s less than 24 hours old. That camera you use every day? Don’t put it down. Take it with you everywhere, photograph everything. The things you are learning now will serve you later when you realize where your passion truly lies.
Dear 23-year-old me:
It’s gunna be ok. Breaking up sucks. Divorce sucks worse. You don’t know it yet, but the man that helped you through the worst of it? He’s the one you’re meant to be with. You will have 2 beautiful, wonderful children together. Just follow your heart. I know you were just crushed, but don’t be afraid to dive in head first – it’s the only way to love.
Dear 26-year-old me:
It’s gunna be ok. You’re terrified, scared of losing this precious baby who’s life has been entrusted to you. He’s going to ok. He has open heart surgery at 4 days old, and comes through with flying colors. He is growing into the most amazing, brave, silly little boy, and I’m pretty sure he has no idea he’s any different than any of his other friends. You will get past the postpartum depression and come through stronger, with more self-awareness, and the ability to grant yourself some grace.
Dear 27-year-old me:
It’s gunna be ok. Washington wasn’t a mistake. It was one big learning opportunity. You’ll learn to finally put yourself first sometimes. You’ll learn not to let others walk all over you. You’ll learn to stand up for yourself and your family. Sometimes doing the right thing means someone gets hurt, but that doesn’t mean it wasn’t still the right thing. As a kid, you thought things were black and white. Right and wrong. What’s right for someone else may not be right for you, and that’s ok. Don’t put down that camera. Keep pushing, keep striving. You got this.
It’s gunna be ok.