Encouragement Corner

A Letter to My Younger Self on Their Birthday

Dear Tiara,

I owe you an apology, a lot of people do, but you can’t count of them, so this one is from me to you. You are such a beautiful person, inside and out. It’s not the first time you’ll hear this, but unfortunately, you won’t begin to believe it until your late 20’s. I am kicking myself because it took me so long to see it, but I am grateful that it’s happened. At this age, the concept seems incredibly foreign, but believe me, being you is the greatest gift you can give to yourself and others.

The truth is, a lot of people in your life, family, friends, teachers, acquaintances, they’re not going to completely understand you, that’s not your fault. You are a complex person, you always have been, and it’s a struggle to navigate. You are funny, quirky, sensitive, intuitive, compassionate, insightful, smart, thoughtful, and very weird. Your weirdness is one of the most powerful things about you. See, all those times you felt like you didn’t fit in, you weren’t the problem. Your instincts were correct all along; all the thoughts and feelings swirling around you were valid. I wish I knew then that I didn’t have to change myself; that the way people react to me is not my business; that I don’t need to compare myself to others; and making other people feel more comfortable only dimmed my light. You are a gem. You literally march to the beat of your own drum; seriously, you find music everywhere, especially in your head.

They don’t teach you this in school, but society frowns upon people who are different and think for themselves. I fell into a trap, created by prejudice, and perpetuated by social constructs. Every time you questioned the norm, you were unknowingly reaching for freedom. You’re not crazy, confused, or a freak. Trying to be “normal” is not for you; I’m sorry I forced it, but we didn’t know any better. You don’t have the language down now, but you will, and you’ll be able to verbalize exactly how you’re feeling. You’ll also find out you’re not alone; there’s a whole community of beautiful people going through similar struggles. Each time you allow yourself to be more authentic and open, the right people will surround you, and the ones that drain your energy will fade away.

One of the biggest things we will struggle with is finding our identity and our voice. It turns out you have tell-tale signs of anxiety; you’re not just PAINFULLY shy or overly sensitive. You’re going to need a lot of rest and sometimes fake it until you make it. The source of your anxiety is generational; to survive in this world, you have to be hypervigilant. As you continue to get older, you’ll feel like you’re stuck in a chronic existential crisis; but with love, friendships, collective healing, education, and writing, you forge new paths.

Forces beyond our control want to ensure we make ourselves as small as possible, but you have to push through the discomfort to take up space. And let me tell you, it’s not easy, but you do it every day. T, you might not believe this now, but you are a proud Black, Puerto Rican, queer, non-binary human being. It’s a mouthful (wink, wink)! You’ve always known this, but as you get older, you truly allow yourself to manifest. It’s a beautiful thing and an ongoing journey of self-discovery and growth. No, it’s not something you need to shout from the rooftops or let anyone else in on. It’s for you; it’s freedom; it’s self-acceptance and self-love.

And lastly, it doesn’t seem like it’ll ever happen, but you’re going to make several long-lasting relationships. You have a close-knit support system. Even when you’re difficult or try to push them away, they’re going to stick around and love you no matter what. The scariest part of it all is that shortly after graduating high school and beginning college, you’re going to grow in love with someone that will become your very best friend and an instrumental part of you realizing how amazing you are. It’s going to take a lot of patience and time, but it’s going to be one of the greatest adventures of your life. You’re still in it and it doesn’t seem to be ending anytime soon, so strap in.

I started this letter with an apology because I acknowledge that I didn’t always treat you the best. I was harsh and self-critical when all I needed to do was listen and believe in you. You’re so ahead of your time, but I finally feel like we’re full circle and only getting better. You’ve always been enough; I am sorry it took so long to see. You are worthy of compassion, love, kindness, softness, warmth, joy, advocacy, respect, and so much more. I promise to keep reminding us of this. I am in awe of you and honored to be the person you become.

Happy birthday, love. You deserve the very best,

Copy of Copy of MM Logo


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