Happy 18th Birthday!
There is nothing I can say to prepare you for where life will take you in the next 20-years. You‘re going to have experiences you never imagined possible or plausible that will take you to both the greatest heights and the darkest depths of your heart. I know you have an amazing plan for the future, but that plan will change at least a hundred times. Because within a few years, your greatest fears will become reality and you will forever be changed by them.
You’ll feel like a hot mess, completely lost and broken in a way that seems impossible to remedy. There will be multiple occasions where you will feel like you can’t go on. Trust that you will survive, knowing that part of the process demands giving yourself permission to breakdown. You are strong, stronger than you know and stronger than you will ever give yourself credit for.
I really want to tell you specifics, if only to prepare you and spare some of your tears. I want to tell you where you should try harder, hold on longer and not give up. I want to tell where you should cut your losses and just let go. I want to tell you when to be less stubborn and how to take care of yourself when the unspeakable happens. But I can’t do that; it wouldn’t be fair. You need to experience these things, the heartaches and the devastating blows. These are the hard knocks that will forge your resiliency; each one is a beautiful gift. I know you’re in a tremendous amount of pain and feel so alone right now, but this pain will become your purpose in life. Eventually, your broken heart will help others find healing. For that, I am extremely proud.
I know you’ve always struggled with the idea that people actually want you in their lives. And here’s the truth, love doesn’t have to feel difficult or like a fight. It‘s easy for you to love, and when you love, you love hard. This isn’t a negative thing; it’s an endearing quality you have always possessed. Embrace it, but know that accepting love is just as important as giving it. At the moment, you’re a natural at the latter and terrible at the former. Guess what? I still am. When someone gives you a compliment or tells you how amazing they think you are, thank them. Believe them. Let that belief sink into your soul and wrap your inner critic with loving kindness and an unwavering belief in yourself. Because you are worthy. You are enough. And you are always surrounded by unconditional love.
Honestly, I could continue to write for days. I could write page after page about all that you have to offer the world, about how many lives you will impact. Stop forgetting so easily. Get messy and make mistakes. Be present and find the joy in every moment. Smile often. Love harder. And trust, just trust.