Sunday, October 12, 2014

An Open Letter To My Younger Self

Yesterday's workout; the cathartic run. You know, that run where your mind a tumultuous sea of emotion crashing along the edges of sanity.  That run where you have to stop and cry after the incessant pounding of the emotional waves breaks you down and the brain stops processing rationally.  Yep.  That run.  My boys all think I'm crazy.  They have no idea what I'm talking about when I describe that run.  They just go run and, well, run.  No emotion.  No tears.  Note to self...

There are days I look at my boys and swear I'm looking back in time at myself. Then there are the days  feel I'm looking straight at myself in the mirror. #Yikes  I've worked incredibly hard to overcome the demons of self-doubt and not subject my kids to the time sucking fear and worry I felt as a pre-teen and teen (and sometimes now). Yet here I stand staring those demons in their ugly green eyes through the faces of my children. I wish I could go back in time and tell myself not to play into the hands of the devil and his ugly games of self-doubt. Those struggles have made me who I am, much stronger in many ways, though those feelings of self-doubt and loathing creep in from time to time to knock me off my positive position. Perhaps to keep me humble. If I could send my 11 and 14 year old self a letter back in time it would go something like this. 

Dear Alison, 

You are amazing.  
You are kind. 
You are brilliant. 
You are compassionate. 
You are helpful. 
You are a hard worker.
You are creative.  
You are incredibly passionate about things you believe in. 
Do not sell yourself short of your abilities. 

One person's opinion does Not define you. It only defines that person. We all know that person is not who s/he tries to make everyone believe s/he is. Eleanore Roosevelt said it best, "No one makes you feel inferior without your consent."  Believe that with all your heart. 

You will be good at math. You will actually come to enjoy math and its linear patterns of thinking. Take Physics even though it scares you to death. Don't let one class keep you from academic honors. Take Accounting. Spreadsheets will be your friends, not that you know what spreadsheets are yet, as Microsoft is just in it's infancy. You will understand later. It will pay off. 

You are inquisitive. Do not be afraid to ask questions and feed the desire to always learn more. Despite what one person may have told you no question is ever silly or unreasonable. Don't be embarrassed by his/her comments just because that person was trying to save face when s/he didn't know the answer either. No question is silly or stupid. You are not stupid for asking questions. Don't let that person make you feel stupid when s/he is really the one who looks like the fool.

Sometimes we just need to let things happen. There's a reason.  Just go with it and make the best of the situation. Trust me.  A lot of times it turns out better than you expected. 

Hard work is the answer. Always give your best effort even when it's hard. Don't give up just because you think you won't do well.  Guess what happens when you think you won't do well: you won't do well. Have faith. Prepare. Work hard. It pays off. 

Meet new people. Talking to new people is fun. Don't be annoyed by your dad who never knows a stranger. It's a great quality and will bring wonderful people into your life and take you places you never expected. 

Take the road less traveled. Literally and figuratively. Yes, your dad does take a different way home. Yes it may take an hour longer. These times will be some of the most cherished memories you have. Sing the songs. Talk about life. Enjoy this time with him. And figuratively- taking the road less traveled leads to some really cool experiences. You will learn a lot about how things work. Practical knowledge is often the most valuable kind. 

Stay active. Believe you can be good at sports. Learn about the games you want to play. Study them. Work at them. The time on the field and courts will develop leadership qualities and friendships for life. Believe you can be good. Don't rely on the coaches. Learn for yourself. Sports and activity last longer than high school. Build the skills now for the time school isn't a part of your life and becomes optional. Don't let activity be optional. 

Learn to use food as fuel instead of fun and stress relief.  Food is not the enemy. You are already becoming aware of how certain foods affect your health. Don't use it as a punishment or reward. Save yourself the years of heartache and struggle for control. Trust me on this one. 

Don't settle. Go for the big dream. Pie in the sky. There are Absolutely NO Limits on what you can achieve. IU is reality. Now set the bar higher. Work harder in class. Work harder on the court and field. You can get there and do well. Don't give in due to fear. Go for more. You are worthy.

Learn how to manage your time. I know there's a lot going on. Tons of homework. Practices. Work in the fields on weekends and after school. Responsibilities at home. Learn how to use those pressures to manage time more wisely. It will pay off. 

Be a good friend. Listen. Have fun together. Cry together. Value that time. Stay in touch. Boyfriends shouldn't come between you. If they do, dump the boy. Your friend is probably right about him. Friendships are more important. Don't let friends walk all over you. Don't be afraid to say no when you're not ok with something. If they are really a friend they won't ask you to do something you're not comfortable with. Some friends are boys. Stay friends with them. Boys can be good friends too. Some girls get it. Others will get it later. Friendships change over time. It doesn't mean you can't call that person a friend. You never know when you may need each other again.  #dontbeajerk

Smile more. Smiling makes people wonder what you're up to. No one ever got mad at someone who smiled at them. Well, no one over the emotional age of 5 anyway. #lightenup

Embrace your Faith. Learn how to pray. Prayer isn't always in a church or lead by a teacher or any of the other things you learned in Catholic School. Prayer is deeply individual and is not a cookie cutter everyone-says-the-same-things-all-the-time kind of thing. Learn how to talk to God in your way. 

Learn forgiveness. There have been some pretty poor examples by people who were supposed to be leaders/teachers/clergy/experts/friends. Use them as examples of how to not live your life. Forgive them, but don't forget. You will be amazed at the weight lifted from your heart when you forgive them. Turn it over. It's life changing. 

Don't give up when things get difficult. The devil is trying to keep you from achieving your full potential. Giving up will only make things worse for you. Life is hard. Keep a positive attitude. Don't make it harder on yourself by giving in to temptation and taking the easy way out. You are more than that. Push through. Be mentally tough. You are capable. You are strong. Push through. It's probably not as bad as you think it is. You are worthy.

There will be more lessons.  These are some of the most valuable that help set the foundation for later years. Until then, take care of yourself. Stop beating yourself up. Stop thinking you're unworthy. You are so much more than you think you are. It's ok to be ok with you. Believe in You. You are worthy.

37 year old Alison

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