This is the time of year for graduations. It is also a time to simultaneously look back while looking forward. I originally wrote this as a letter to my younger self, kind of an if I knew then what I know now piece. However, I am fully aware, that we are not meant to learn all of the big lessons at once. A teacher of mine once said, “the soul reveals itself slowly.” I believe this to be true.
What follows then is a partial but sincere list of what I wish everyone suffering from feelings of severe sadness, disconnection, and isolation could know and know with all of their heart. My hope is that if more young people felt these things to be true, that it would somehow prevent future violence and tragic loss of life.
1) There is more right with you than there is wrong. Just as there are more similarities between us than there are differences.
2) Your thoughts no matter how powerful, convincing, disturbing or crazy they appear to be, are not real. They are not you and they do not control you. You can learn to look at them and let the thoughts pass on by. Yes, thoughts are powerful but don’t believe them all. Consciously choose to change the negative thoughts to opposing more positive ones. Same with your emotions, while important to acknowledge, they are not you.
3) YOU CANNOT CHANGE PEOPLE! It is fruitless trying to get someone to change his or her beliefs and behavior. What you can do is acknowledge and honor the feelings someone awakens in you and work on your boundaries with that person. Realize what you are comfortable putting up with and what you won’t stand for. Communicate openly and honestly with yourself first before engaging in conversation.
4) You are not defined by your disabilities, circumstances, tragedies, illnesses, losses, popularity, intelligence and appearance. You are not your personality. The real you is much deeper. You are valued. You are enough. You are deeply loved. Even if you don’t know it yet or you forget it from time to time.
5) You co-create your life. Yes, there are situations out of your control but you choose how to respond to them. And you possess the power to make changes when necessary and bring acceptance to the circumstances you cannot change.
6) We are all in this together. You are not alone. And asking for help as well as receiving it is how we not only survive but live well. Have faith in something bigger than you when you don’t have faith in yourself.
7) You are not too sensitive, too hyper or too anything for that matter nor are you not smart enough, not good enough, or not enough of anything either.
8) Making mistakes and failing is the path to success, happiness, and fulfillment. You will fail and look stupid from time to time.
9) If you love to do something but you are not particularly good at it, it is okay, do it anyway! It is worth your heartfelt participation if it brings you joy.
10) Try not to take things personally or too seriously.
11) Find something you like and love about yourself. Everyday. It is not conceited or arrogant. It is crucial. This relationship with yourself is the most important relationship you will have in your lifetime.
12) You can be brave and scared at the same time, happy and sad at the same time, vulnerable and courageous all at the same time. And anything that makes your heart pound or butterflies flutter in your stomach is worth pursuing.
13) What you identify as your flaws and imperfections may actually be your greatest gifts. You are made just the way you are for a reason and the universe needs you to be you with all of your imperfections and unique challenges.
14) While it is hard not too worry, know that you can choose to pray or send positive energy to the situation instead. I have read before that worrying is praying for what you don’t want.
15) If someone hurts you, acknowledge and thank your feelings. Then send loving kindness and compassion to yourself first and foremost. If you can muster up this very challenging task then also send compassion to the person that hurt you. He or she is most likely suffering right alongside you. And friends are really important, if someone means a lot to you, it is worth working through the hurt.
16) Trust your intuition. If someone or something makes you feel strange or uneasy, trust this instinct. Do not question the messages your body gives you. Thank the cues and learn from them. Your body is your ally.
17) It’s okay to be shy sometimes, and it’s okay to be crazy sometimes. It’s okay to be loud one minute and quiet the next. You are entitled to feel let down, disappointed, and blue. It is okay to say no. If you feel uncomfortable in certain places and like a free spirit in another, spend more time in the places and with the people that make your spirit SOAR!
18) It’s fine to blush incessantly, cry uncontrollably, and laugh like a seal at a pool party, and not look pretty while doing it.
19) You are creative and artistic and talented.
20) Happiness is obtained through the honest pursuit of it, it is a journey not a destination.
21) If you cannot find peace and solace, get outside and put your feet on the earth or in the water. And send love right back to nature while taking care of the earth as best as you can.
22) Learn to identify your “false ego.” If something keeps you feeling separate, in competition, or jealous of another person, it is most likely not the “real you” talking. Losing ego all together may be hard and not always advisable but letting go of the false ego gets you out of your own way and makes room for beauty and transformation to take place.
23) Do something nice for someone else. Altruism is at the heart of happiness. Send thank you letters and practice being grateful for what you have.
24) If you are in a rut and are trying to make a decision, choose from the place that feels like love and joy, not fear. Time and patience are your friends.
25) Life is hard and it is not fair. Knowing that when we want things to be different than they are is when we struggle the most. Acceptance is hard work but it is worth practicing.