With my approaching 22nd birthday, I was inspired to look back at a letter I wrote my younger self while I was in treatment for anorexia. The date of the original letter was August 22, 2015. Now, 10 months later, I have grown even more and added to the letter. I may not be able to go back in time and give advice to my younger self, but I hope my 10-year-old sister will read this letter and take away some lessons.
Dear Little Eva,
First off, your freckles are too cute! I wish they didn’t fade because I bet I would look even more adorable right now with some freckles. Now, on a more serious note, I want to offer you some advice for the future. I am not going to give away any details because I want you to experience each day as special surprise. But I do want to let you in on a few secrets that will allow you to enjoy the ups and push through the downs. Never forget, “Just BREATHE…”
Smile! You have a beautiful one so share it with the world. Laugh often. Laugh with your loved ones; laugh at yourself. You have a sense of humor so don’t try to convince yourself otherwise. The light you have will spread to others — don’t rob them of your gift.
Take a nap every once in a while, and sleep in every now and then! You deserve it. You may love to keep yourself busy, but too much running around can be harmful. Listen to your body when it asks for rest or nourishment. The only way you can achieve your next grand goal is to do it well-rested. So, try yoga, watch tv, read for fun, draw a picture – whatever your little heart desires.
Take advantage of everything you have been blessed with. You are lucky enough to live in a community with endless opportunities — dancing, singing, piano, volleyball, basketball, gymnastics, surfing and more. Don’t be afraid to try something new, even when you think you may fail. You might not be an amazing artist. You may be told you aren’t a great writer. Ignore that criticism because there are times when those activities will bring you joy, and even get you through the hardest times. Live boldly. Live fearlessly.
The world may seem like a big and scary place right now, but it is also filled with wonders. Be sure to admire the beauty in your day-to-day activities. Each time you find yourself smiling, acknowledge the moment. Let go of yesterday. Forget the your fears about tomorrow. Live in the now but it is all that is guaranteed.
You have so much to be grateful for—a loving family, fantastic friends, countless opportunities to learn and grow, a safe home and unconditional support. Be grateful for what you have because, as you move forward, you will learn that you are extremely fortunate. There are others out there with much less. You have all the resources you need to succeed, and all the love you need to flourish. Remember to stop every now and then and thank your support system. They don’t help you for the acknowledgement, but they will always appreciate a heart-felt “thank you.”
Your path in life is not going to be straight and smooth. You are going to face some major obstacles. Not going to lie, it is not easy and many tears will be shed. But you are strong! Keep the faith. There will be times you feel like you will never make it through the darkness, and the helplessness will be overwhelming. Don’t worry, you can always borrow hope from those around you. They have plenty of hope to give, since you offer guidance to them when they are lost.
Take a deep breath and release the high expectations you have for yourself. I have told you to let others see your true self, but you cannot do that unless you acknowledge who you are — the good and the bad. There will be many nights you lay awake stressed about the future and mad at yourself for revealing your imperfections to others. You will make up for those insecurities by putting more pressure on yourself and striving to be better than your peers. It may be hard, but accept who you are. You have your strengths, and other people have theirs. You can’t be the best at everything.
You are going to find much success, evident by your grades and accomplishments. But, for each time you succeed, you will fail at least five times. Failure is the only way to triumph. Keep putting one foot in front of the other. Remember nobody is perfect. Right now, you may whole-heartedly believe you can accomplish perfection, but you can’t. You can live the life you want just the way you are.
Eva, you are beautiful, inside and out. Now get moving! Live your life and enjoy each moment.
21-year old Eva