To My Younger Self Who's Full of Self-Doubt

Dear past Shelby,

Girl, I wish I could hug you so tight. I wish I could squeeze all that self-doubt you have festering inside you out. I wish you could see all the things I see now looking back and all the things mom told you all along.

Listen to mom. She is always right. Except on the perm thing. That was whack.

I hate to tell you this, but you’re wrong about everything, but it’s OK. You’re supposed to be.

A few things I want to tell you:

1. I’m proud of you.

You’ll never regret choosing the right thing over the cool thing. Even if you spend your whole senior year at a lunch table alone, choose the right thing, again and again. You’re cool. I promise. You just don’t know it yet.

2. Stop filling your voids with stuff.

Boys. Shopping. Drinking. Lots of drinking. Fake friendships. None of it will help. In fact, most of it will make it worse.

3. Be nicer to yourself.

Weighing 10 pounds less does not make you a better or more interesting person. Weighing 10 or 20 pounds more does not make you unlovable. For every day or every moment you criticize yourself, you are cheating yourself out of your fullest joy.

4. Be thankful for what you have.

Dwelling on what you don’t have will only keep bringing you nothing. Gratitude is powerful. It’s changing my life every day as I write this. It improves your health and relationships. Besides, life is a gift, and you should be most thankful for that.

5. You’re going to have unimaginable losses in the years to come. Don’t be afraid to face them head on.

Go to the funeral. You’ll regret it every day if you don’t. You’re going to walk through a valley of grief, but you’re going to come through the other side a stronger, braver woman. You’ll need these experiences to hold up the others when life knocks them down.

6. Nothing will go as you planned.

None of it. Don’t freak out. All the forks in the road and life-altering stuff that happens? It makes you one bad ass woman.

7. You won’t believe this now, but you are not going to be lonely.

There are loads of unbelievably wonderful people in your future, and you will be overwhelmed with gratitude for the goodness and love in your life.

You’re going to discover some things about yourself that will surprise and delight you, and this world will be a better place for having had you in it. So hang in there, kid. Remember, we’re all just winging it in life, and none of us is here long. The journey is the reward, and it’s a wonderful journey.

Your older, wiser, cooler and unpermed self

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