I visited my elementary and middle school teachers today. Walking through the same corridors reminded me exactly of how I felt. There were so many preconceived notions that I had to break to get to where I currently am. Here’s what I would tell my past self:
- You are not less than your peers because of your grades. In fact, you will come to realize that grades don’t really matter. Because when you fall in love with failing, learning, and the process of solving problems, everything else will fall into place.
- There’s an emotion we all feel but hasten not to talk about. It’s shame. You feel shame very deeply which leads you to believe things about yourself that are not true. It will bleed you into imposter syndrome. You won’t get over shame but you will learn how to build shame resilience.
- You are not how others perceive you. You have the right to let go of negative connotations that do not define who you are. Only YOU get to define who you are and what you value.
- I see that you have a lot of ambition, passion, curiosity, and drive. Do not let anyone gaslight you into thinking that you are too much. There’s no such thing. Keep learning, keep exploring, keep growing, and build connections along the way.
- The worst question you were asked was, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” Trust me—scratch that and put it aside. Enjoy your youth, do things you enjoy, and learn more about yourself. It is so much more important to know WHO you want to become rather than WHAT you want to do.
There are so many things I would tell my past self. I used to feel ashamed looking back at who I was but now I feel acceptance, love, and belonging more than anything.
Think about a time when you felt unsafe or isolated, what would you tell them?