May 2, 2020

An Open Letter to my Younger Self

Dear 17 year old Emi,

I stumbled upon an old photo of you a few days ago, and it brought back so many memories. I remember taking this photo in high school at the cafeteria. You can even spot the recycling bin right around the corner.

I always have the habit of writing letters to my future self, but I thought that I could write to you and reflect on some lessons that I’ve learned since then. We may even learn something new along the way.

Shall we?

  1. You’re not old. You’re young.

You gotta stop thinking that you’re an elder just because you’re a senior in high school. Yes, you may be older than most of the other students in school, but you’re young. Trust me. You have your whole life ahead of you to be “old”. Take advantage of your youth. It is yours.

2. Learn how to let go.

In general. You hold on far too long, and far too tightly. I get it. I want you to know that it’s okay. I understand that you love deeply, but I also want you to know that it isn’t okay to hold on to unnecessary hurt. You don’t need to hold on to what hurts you. You’re allowed to let things and people go.

3. You are loved

It saddens me to write this, because I still struggle with this lesson, too. But what I’ve learned is that you don’t need to look for love or validation from others. You are loved. Period.

Nothing in this world can change that. Your worth isn’t found from others, but Christ Himself. He loves you. That is more than enough.

4. Don’t be afraid to take risks

Sister, we play it safe way too much. We always have a safety net. Even back then, you always had an exit route. I know you’re afraid, but you’re allowed to make mistakes. You’re allowed to try new things even if it doesn’t “fit in” with what others are doing. Try things out, you never know what will come from it.

5. Finding a boyfriend isn’t going to solve all your problems

Seriously. I laugh as I’m writing this because you and I both know that it’s a struggle, and a real one at that. Em, you are your own person. You are incredibly valuable. See #3.

You don’t need a person to complete you, because you know what, no one ever will. You have a God-shaped hole in your heart, and that can never be filled by minuscule things but God Himself. Besides, high school isn’t a time to find your groom, it’s a time to find your bridesmaids!

6. The “real world” isn’t as scary as you think

In fact, it’s surprisingly manageable. Don’t hold yourself back because of fear. There’s no need to be afraid. Think of Peter as he walked on water towards Jesus. Even though he was scared, he trusted Christ. Yes, I know you can’t swim, but all the more reason to try. The world is your stage.

7. Stop comparing yourself to others

Honestly, it will get you nowhere. I understand that you feel left behind, and that you wish you could be where the other person is. But girl, you’re not on earth to compete with others.

You’re running your own race. The only one you should be competing with is who you were yesterday. Strive to be better than who you were before. Celebrate when others do well. It is a testament of their hard work, not an attack on you and your abilities.

8. Humility is your friend, not your enemy

You were told once that you were prideful, and it bothered you a lot. Girl, you and I both know it was true. You didn’t understand it then, but you will. Learn how to be humble and not to put yourself (or others) down. As you will learn later on, humility isn’t about thinking less of yourself, but thinking of yourself less. All that you have to offer – your gifts and talents – are from God. Offer it back to Him!

9. When you can’t stand the world, get on your knees and pray

Honestly, one of the best decisions you made is choosing to grow in your relationship with Jesus. Yes, high school is stressful and it seems that so much is on your plate right now, but Jesus is by your side. You’re so eternally blessed to have family, friends, and a faith-based community that leads you closer to Him everyday. Tell Him everything that’s concerning you. Don’t even bother lying or concealing how you feel, because He already knows. Trust me. He, out of all people, can take your emotions.

10. Embrace your sensitivity

Growing up, your sensitivity was something that you were always teased about, and it made you cry a lot HAHA. I know it can seem like a huge burden to feel like “Miss Emotions”, but trust me when I tell you that God didn’t bless you with your sensitivity by accident. He blessed you abundantly by allowing you to feel and love deeply. Because you’re sensitive, you’re able to notice what others often overlook. You can empathize and console others genuinely. It wasn’t a mistake, it is a gift. It makes you special.

You really are special.

I pray that you may take these lessons with an open heart. Whatever life may throw at you, know that you can do this. You’ll not only survive life but you’ll thrive. You’re going to meet so many amazing friends, travel to far off places, and stretch yourself much farther than you ever thought you’ll be.

You are infinitely and deeply loved.

See you in the future,

22 year old Em

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