Wednesday, 7 March 2012

Letter of encouragement to my younger teenage self

Dear Jo-Jo (my younger self)

I am writing to you from many years in the future, when you have all grown up and have lived and experienced much of life, with its joys, laughter,  sadness and pain.

I know you have been through so much already, the bullying in your pre-teen years, the difficulties in school you experienced and all the unhappiness.  I know how you felt useless, small, pathetic, stupid, a failure  and no good at anything.  I also know how in your teens you feel unattractive, spotty and unlovable.  I understand how much you hate your large nose, flat chest, and big bottom.  But let me tell you this young lady, you are none of these things.  You are clever, funny, sweet, attractive, articulate and lovely......even if you don't realise it or believe it now,  you are.  It will take you many years to 'find' yourself,  to believe in yourself and have courage and confidence in yourself.  You will take many knocks along the way, and will also have to suffer  much before you can finally learn this, and know it for yourself.

Don't let ANYONE make you feel useless or stupid, because you are not.  Don't let ANYONE take advantage of you, or walk all over you, because you are worth so much more than that.  Learn to say 'no' and to assert yourself.  Do not be led into things that you are not happy with, or do not want to do and please do not feel that you have to 'go along with the crowd', be strong enough to be yourself.

Be careful with some of the decisions you make, as they affect you for much of your life and your  future.  The people you meet, the relationships you make, the person you marry.  Never ever feel pressurised into something you are not sure of, or comfortable with.  Don't just go with the flow, because you think it is what you should or ought to do, or what others expect of you.  Don't do anything you don't want to do, just because someone is telling you or persuading you to do it.  Only do it if you think it is right, and makes you happy.  Make your own decisions and choices, and don't allow other people to make them for you or influence you.  Avoid people who will try and control you or manipulate you, who would try and stifle, suppress or stamp out your very soul and spirit  Follow your heart, and follow your dreams, and never compromise on what you believe in, and what you want in life.

Think carefully about your choice of career.  There are those who will try and guide you into something that is totally wrong for you.  Know your strengths and weaknesses, and think about what you enjoy, and what comes naturally to you.  Do not be pressurised into doing something that clearly you are going to be no good at, it will be like swimming against the flow or the tide......uphill work, and it will drag you down.  Efficiency, organisation, administration, office work will be a struggle for you, and make you unhappy.  Do not fall for the track "a Secretary is a good career, as it is something you can always fall back on" because it won't.  You will once again be made to feel useless and helpless, as it is a career that doesn't utilise your strengths, but just exaggerates your weaknesses.  Think about your creativity, I think you could make a good career if you look down that is so much more you, and you could be very happy and fulfilled.

You will have to go through suffering and pain, it is part of life's tapestry.  But don't worry, the things you have to go through will make you stronger, wiser, kinder, deeper, smarter and more compassionate.  They will make you 'you', and the woman you will become, the 'me' that I am now.  You will go through heartbreak,  you will be let down, and you will be hurt.  Remember, what doesn't kill you makes you stronger, and that when one door closes in your life, another one will open to something better.

You will make mistakes, and you will fail, but these will only be negative in your life if you allow them to be, and  if you don't learn or grow through them.  Never regret past failings or mistakes, regard them as lessons in life.  Never be afraid to try again, even if you have failed many times, if it is something you want enough, it is worth fighting for.  Be courageous and sometimes take risks.  Don't regret things done in the past, as they can't be changed, and don't forget,  if you look back too much, you can't move forward.  Live each day of your present life as a gift.   Look to your future as a series of many paths to be taken, but be wise as to which paths you choose to take.  Some will lead to happiness and fulfilment, but some will lead to emptiness and sadness.

Value your body and your health, you will have accidents and mishaps that will change your life, so be careful how you treat yourself.  Don't put yourself in dangerous or unnecessary situations.  Look after your health and your body, it is the only one you will have, it will not be replaced!  Your health will play a very important role in your happiness, so stay fit, healthy and happy.

Above all, never be afraid to be yourself.  Embrace life and what it has to offer, and don't be frightened  to take the occasional risk, and be a little daring.  You don't have to conform the whole time to what others expect of you.  You CAN let your hair down sometimes, and if others disapprove, that is tough.  Believe in yourself Jo-Jo, and try not to be so self-critical and tough on yourself.  Show yourself a little kindness and self-respect.  You can be the 'someone' that God created you to be, if you just hold onto the dream, and never give up, and allow yourself to be who you are.  Keep hoping, believing, trusting, and loving.  Live, laugh, sing dance, love and be who you were meant to be.

You have much to offer this world.  You just have to see it within yourself,  find it in your inner-being, believe in it, grab it with both hands and hold on to it to release the power you have inside to set yourself free and soar on Eagles Wings.  You can do it, I know you can.  Learn to love yourself first, and above all be true to yourself, then you will be able to love and be loved, and to be true to others.   Be strong, be happy, be faithful, be wise, be fulfilled, and never stop hoping and loving life.

Look after yourself  Jo-Jo, you have so much to look forward to.  Live your life as best you can, and with no regrets.

Lots of love

Jo (your grown-up self)

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