It’s me. Ashlee too, from the future. No, I wish I was some cool science-fiction trick. I’m you, in 2020. The older you, hopefully, smarter and more self-assured. We are 28 now, and I have a few things I want to tell you. I hope that in hearing these words you can begin to feel stronger, less deviant, and more at peace with who you are.
First, I want you to hear this- it is the most important sentence of this letter: There is nothing wrong with you! In case you rolled your eyes and did not absorb that sentence I am going to say that again- there is nothing wrong with you! I understand that it is not easy being different from your peers, but that does not in any way mean that you are broken or less than. I hope you are kind to yourself when you see the girls in your class walking around like they own the world. I know you look at how they walk. I know that you secretly bargain with God; I know what you promise Him in exchange to wake up and be able-bodied. If you only knew then, what I know now, you would stop. See, you wish that you were different than you are. However, what you don’t know is that who you are, what you have learned, and everything you have experienced, that is going to shape you into the warrior you will become!
Next, I know that you are insecure and you shrink from the world, but I need you to fill up the space you are in. Own it! You believe that hiding in a corner is what will keep you safe, but it is costing you too much. You were not put on this Earth to simply survive, you were meant to thrive. The next time you enter an office, a classroom, a room, you must pick your chin up and stick your chest out. Smile, and take a deep breath. I know that you want to be liked by everyone, so you adapt and change from interaction to interaction, but here is a secret: not everyone is going to like you, so be your authentic self and surround yourself with the people who love you for everything that makes you who you are!
Now, let’s talk about this voice of yours. You don’t realize it yet, but you have opinions, convictions, and a story that needs to be heard! I know that speaking up feels foreign, but I have a suggestion for you: sit in front of a mirror and speak. Tell yourself anything. As you begin to feel more comfortable, replace those words with affirmations: I am worthy. I am important. I am safe to exist. Understand that there is a time to speak and a time to listen. I know that you are insecure and feeling like you need to prove yourself, so you respond to any stimuli that trigger you. Stop that. Once you know who you are you quickly dismiss or walk away from anything that diminishes you!
Finally, I just want to tell you that I am so proud of you! You were dealt a difficult hand, and instead of folding, you made the best of it! You have survived the very circumstances that would have brought stronger people to their knees. You are powerful! You have it in you to change the world, the first step is to decide that you belong!