Dear Past Self,
This is Future Catherine here. First of all, how are you doing?...actually I know the answer to that. You will always say that you are doing well, that you are good, but the truth is you just don't want to bother people with your problems. You think you are a burden, and you even worry that some people may find you annoying and clingy.
In high school, I know times were tough. You didn't have many friends, and the ones you did have were not real friends. You held on to this hope that you would not be seen as a nerd, but you were and even you knew it. I know you feel ashamed of who you are, and I know that you try and distract yourself from it sometimes, trying to fit in with the more popular kids. The truth is you don't fit in with them either.
'Where is my place in the world?', you are probably asking. I hate to say this, but your journey to belonging is far from over. Take it from me, life is always going to make you question if you truly belong somewhere. You will have moments where you feel like an imposter, even if you worked really hard to get to where you are right now (you are now a blogger and self-help writer, and you STILL struggle with this feeling). The important part is to not let that feeling control you or stop you.
You have come a long way since high school and have gone through more than just physical changes. You have done a lot of growing up over the years and learned to accept what you cannot control. Your mindset has shifted from feeling bad for yourself to trying to find the good in any situation, and to try and grow from it. Of course, that is not to say that you will not fall into deep depressing moments sometimes, but these feelings come and go if you choose first to accept them.
There are few lessons I have learned over the years, and I have decided to share them with you.
1. Acknowledge your feelings.
I know it seems easy to suppress the way you feel inside because it is not convenient for others, but it is even less convenient for yourself to continue keeping those emotions inside. The truth always comes out, and in terms of your emotions, they could wreak havoc on your mental health until you choose to acknowledge them. That is why you have become such a strong believer in self-care. You need to take care of yourself first and only then can you take care of others. I know it sounds selfish, but you cannot pour from an empty cup, otherwise you are doing others as well as yourself a disservice.
2. Life has a way of guiding you.
I have learned that every hardship in our lives has a way of bringing us to where we need to be. We might want to go on a certain path, but life has a way of redirecting us to become who we were truly meant to be. In this regard, the path to becoming your best self may not be easy. Just know that your experiences are shaping you into who you will become tomorrow. Only YOU decide who you become.
3. Give up on the things that do not serve you.
This takes some mental reflection and looking inwards. I know you tend to go on autopilot if something does not interest you, or if your mind is elsewhere. The thing is, if you are starting to feel this way very often, that could be the start of a problem. Do you really want to go through your life doing something that you thought you SHOULD do instead of doing what you WANT to do? In order to understand what you want to do, you need to get to know yourself and see what emotions you associate with different activities, or even certain people. Depending on these emotions, you can choose to do a clean-up of your life and you will feel happier because of it.
4. It is okay to be assertive.
Okay, if I'm being totally honest here I will say your future self still struggles with this. The truth is you don't have to be arrogant and bossy to be assertive. Assertiveness comes from not accepting the things you do not want. For example, if you don't want to go out with friends that day, you can just say no. If you feel like you are already overwhelmed at work, you do not have to accept that extra task. I have learned that if you say yes too often, people will expect a lot from you. Even though that could win you the reputation of the hard-worker, you will be so burned out by the end of the day that you will have no time for yourself. Learn to appreciate the power behind the word "no".
5. Adopt a growth mindset.
"What can I learn from this?" Although I know it is not always easy to think on the bright side of every situation, nor is it healthy, adopting a growth mindset helps you recover faster and get your motivation back. If you always think negatively, you will feel stuck in a slump your whole life. You will affect the relationships with those around you. Most of all, you will develop a negative relationship with yourself. Life is all about balance, so feel your emotions as they come and don't feel guilty about it. There is a lesson to be learned from every situation, we just need to start acknowledging that.
6. Listen to your body.
This is something Future Catherine learned quite recently. There is a little something in the future called coronavirus. I know this might sound like a beer commercial, but trust me when I say it has affected the way everyone lives their lives in the future. (When hugs are seen as blasphemous, you know something is bad). While I was quarantined inside because of this worldwide pandemic, I learned that my relationship with health and exercise was not healthy. I did it because I felt I needed to, even on days when I had absolutely no energy and motivation. During this time, I learned that I should slow down and listen to my body. I stopped exercising regularly and guess what? It felt great! This especially helped me when I started going on my naturopathic treatment for bleach poisoning (which has been another hellish ordeal, to say the least). The thing is, in everything we do, our body is trying to transmit a message to us. No matter if it is good or bad, it is important that we listen to it.
7. Be grateful always.
My last point is probably one of the most important, and something I am proud to say I regularly implement. For anything in life, no one owes us anything. We need to make our own way in the world through hard work and dedication. So, when someone decides to give you something, or even if you pay for a service, be grateful towards others and be compassionate. I have found that instances in which people have been compassionate and grateful towards me have made my day better. If we want to shine our own ray of light into the world, it is important to give back to others and make them feel appreciated, no matter who they are.
I hope that you can carry these lessons throughout your life, past Catherine, and I hope that you outgrow the current me in years to come.
Catherine of Common Sense Living