Open letter to my 18-year-old self

“When I dare to be powerful, to use my strength in the service of my vision, then it becomes less and less important whether I am afraid.”

Audre Lorde

About a month ago, while I was preparing my blog post about honoring mothers, I came across a suggestion to write an open letter to my 18-year-old self.  I’m sure this isn’t a new concept but it made me reflect on the woman I’ve evolved into over the last 24 years.  The limiting beliefs I’ve overcome, self-doubt, lack of confidence, and valuing boundaries are my biggest hurdles.  (The boundaries part is still a tough one for me.)  I asked myself, “What lessons would have benefited me most had I learned them at 18 vs in my 20s heck even my 30s?”  I NEVER saw myself as an entrepreneur and honestly fought the notion for a long time.  (That lack of confidence piece came into play!)  So here it goes- an open letter to my 18-year-old self:

Dear Cassy,

Hey girl.  I’m writing to you 24 years in the future and boy is it different than what you are expecting but we will get to that eventually.  I know you are excited but mostly scared about what your next steps are going to be.  Know that everything will be ok and you are going to reach goals you never thought possible.

First and foremost, failure does not exist. 

Don’t let possible failures stop you from trying or going after what you want most.  Success doesn’t always look the way you think it will and the failures you will experience are actually gifts helping you clarify your path.  Take these lessons and let them shape you.  Use them as gasolene to ignite your flames!  Burn brighter and bigger than you did before- don’t hide!  Choose to be the hero of your story not a victim of circumstance and obstacles. 

You determine your value, no one else. 

You will exhaust yourself trying to gain everyone’s love and admiration.  It’s not worth it.  What you think will fulfill you and help you see your worth will only suck your soul dry.  You have the power, no one else.  Stop giving it away!  You determine the type of person you are and will become and you alone determine your value.  People try to limit you to keep you under their thumb.  Crawl out.  A wise woman said, “Other people’s opinion of you is none of your business”.  Live the life that allows you to sleep well at night not the life you think everyone else believes you should.

Love is a gift, not a life raft to cling to. 

THIS!  It doesn’t matter how much someone says they love you, toxic is toxic.  You can’t stay in relationships that hurt you both physically and emotionally just because “they love you”.  Real love builds you up, gives you strength, and propels you into the person you want to become.  It doesn’t hold you back or cage you.  Respect goes hand-in-hand with love.  One cannot exist without the other.  Also remember, family and the bond of blood don’t always equal love.  Surround yourself with people who value you and your contributions in this world.  Build your tribe and make your family.

Last, trust your gut. 

You have a powerful level of intuition.  Trust it, use it.  When those feelings of self-doubt and worry start to creep in, remind yourself of 1,2, and 3 above.  When others give you their opinions, take them for what they are: opinions not facts. Don’t let it derail what you know to be true in your gut.  Use that big brain and evaluate the facts: TRUST YOUR GUT.  No one will take you seriously and that’s not a reflection of what you are capable of.  It’s a reflection of their personal experiences and own biases.  They will try to limit you and hold you down to make themselves feel powerful.  Don’t give in.  In the words of Shirley Chisholm “If they don’t give you a seat at the table, bring a folding chair.”

You are capable of more than you know.  There is so much more I could tell you but I don’t want to spoil any surprises.  Keep your nose to the grindstone and it will all work out.

Hair and Makeup by Danni Manning of True Beauty

What would you say to 18-year-old you? I’d love to hear about it in the comments!

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