A Letter to my Younger Self
You are 17 years old. You have just graduated high school and are ready to take on the world. You are fresh faced and naive, unaware of the harshness of reality. Unaware of the roller coaster that life is. Future you wishes she could go back in time and give you some advice, help you along with your journey.
You are going to face many ups and downs. Your life path is going to have rocky footing, unpredictable weather and random mudslides. You're going to fall down but you're going to get back up. You’re going to fall down again, and continue to get back up. It is going to become a constant cycle of ups and downs. Treasure the ups. Soak in every detail of all of the good times and commit them to your memory. Remember these moments during the down times, knowing even better times are ahead.
You're going to succeed, but you're also going to fail. Each failure will leave an impression, a mark on you - accumulating scar after scar. It will hurt but it will be ok. The pain is temporary. No matter how much it hurts, how much you feel like your slowing dying form the inside out, you will get through it. You will glue yourself back together, piece by piece. And as soon as you are healed you will once again be broken into a million pieces. It’s ok. You’re going to once again piece yourself together, overcoming every obstacle that is thrown into your path. During these tough times know that better days are not so far away. And the better days are amazing - worth every single struggle.
You are going to make some pretty dumb decisions. Don’t regret them. All of your dumb decisions put you on a path that have resulted in the person you currently are, and she is kind of awesome. You are also going experience some extremely awkward situations. A ridiculous amount of cringe-worthy awkwardness. It is ok. They will eventually turn into hilarious stories. Don’t be afraid to share them and have a good laugh at yourself.
You are going to be scared and miss out on opportunities. Don’t worry. As you grow you will become more courageous and take more chances. You will evolve into a strong young women who isn’t afraid to be blunt and honest. Trust yourself and stay true to your core values.
You are going to find the strength to voice your desires. You are going switch from a degree others want you to do to a degree you want to do. Don’t take a single moment of your education for granted - education is a privilege. Knowledge is power. Listen to your professors, absorb your textbooks, throw yourself completely into learning. Learn as many facts as you can, expanding your ideas and belief system.
You're going to feel a little lost and uncertain of what career path to follow. Don’t fret, you’ll figure it out and decide on a career you’re truly passionate about. The path to this career won’t be easy and you will consider switching into a safer, more certain career. Don’t let these negative thoughts deter you. Don’t doubt your intelligence and don’t let a couple bumps in the road throw you off your path.
You are going to meet some amazing people. They are going to come from all different walks of life and each one will have their own unique purpose in your life story. Their time with you will vary but each one will leave a lasting, unforgettable impression. Treasure your time with everyone and don’t take anyones love for you for granted. Know you are never alone.
Have the courage to walk away from toxic people - the ones who question your dreams, who don’t hold your same fundamental values. It is ok to exclude people from your life. You are going to be hurt before this lesson truly sinks in - it is ok to end relationships. Remove yourself from people that are only going to hold you back and not aid in your growth.
You are going to be ashamed of your body. You will buy into the idea of the “perfect female body.” You’ll compare yourself to others and attempt to hide your “flaws." You will harm yourself by eating less and exercising more. I wish you wouldn’t take so long to figure out how to be comfortable in your skin - learn that your body is a gift. Your muscles enable you to perform in your sports. They display the hours spent training, the countless sacrifices and discipline required to be an elite athlete. Your muscles will become your favorite feature. Show them off proudly.
You are going to initially buy into the idea that in order to be an attractive girl - an acceptable girlfriend - you need to downplay your accomplishments. That you need to make yourself small in order to not intimidate, not emasculate others. You’re going to shrug off compliments and shy away from praise. Don’t be ashamed of your achievements and the hard work they required. Stay humble, but never let anyone make you feel small and unimportant. Wear your achievements proudly.
You are going to be born during a time of change. A time where you will experience the harsh realities of privilege and the struggles of being a girl. You are going to be told you are less. You are going to witness males get away with sexual harassment and assault. You are going to see other women’s truth be called a lie - watch women lose to less qualified men. You are going to be told to stay quiet, to know your place - to dress and act in a way that doesn’t attract unwanted attention. You are going to be talked down to, had comments made about you. You are going to be judged by your appearance and in return downplay your femininity in order to be taken seriously. Screw that. Be vocal and strong. Stand up to the patriarchy and be apart of the change. Don’t be another silent victim.
You are going to struggle with your desire to be unique and stray from the normal path. You are going to wonder why you aren’t like the other girls - why you would rather focus on your education and sports instead of boys and partying. You are going to suppress your emotions, bottle them up and build thick, strong walls around yourself. You need to break down these walls, let yourself be vulnerable and emotional. Don’t be afraid to share your story with others, don’t be afraid of the possibility of getting hurt. You are stronger than you think - you can handle it.
You are going to become an elite triathlete. It is going to be a difficult journey but all of your hard work is going to pay off and you are going to stand on podiums. You were not one of those people born with talent - everything you earn will be entirely based on your ridiculous, sickening work ethic. You are going to reach your body’s limits and then push even further. Every result will be painfully earned. You are going to witness other athletes have an easier time - not getting injured, not having to sacrifice as much. Don’t let this effect your athletic journey - let go of the jealousy and resentment. Focus on yourself and take it one day at a time.
You are going to have days where you don’t want to get out of bed - days where you question everything. Days when you wonder if your current life path is one you want to continue on. Days when you wonder if future you will regret your current decisions, regret your sacrifices, wish you would have done something else. Days where you wonder if all the pain and heartache was worthwhile. You're going to discover that your biggest enemies are not external but internal. You're going to find that they never disappear, that you are never able to completely defeat them. Instead, you will have to work everyday to keep them at bay - not let them consume you. It is going to be exhausting and you are going to become tired - so tired. But you are going to persevere.
Your life story isn’t a tragedy. It is the story of a champion. Know that if you are currently experiencing heart ache and pain you are just in the process of finishing a sad chapter with a new, happier one only a page away. You are a force to be reckoned with - a wild child. Your story will have a happy ending.
All my love, Future Catherine