Something I ask myself sometimes is what I would tell younger me if I could talk to her. What would I write in a letter addressed to myself 10 years ago? What if I could only send her one sentence, or two?
The answer inevitably is, nothing. I’m a firm believer in the importance of struggle and pain, and I recognise how much I have been shaped by the hardship in my life. Not to mention my transition has had a few lucky instances, and were I to say anything to younger me, I could ruin my chances of transition and end up dying never having been myself.
For the sake of argument though, let’s say my goal was to reduce the loss and doubt past me would have to live through, as much as possible. What would I tell myself then?
When I was fourteen or so, I would sit in bed and go to sleep, wishing with all my mind and my heart to wake up as a girl. Every morning I was crushed with the disappointment that it hadn’t worked. Still, the next night I would try again.
Some nights, I might instead pretend to hear a knock at my balcony door, and open it to have a young woman say hi. I would ask, confused, who she was, and she would smile and tell me she was me, from many years in the future. I liked this fantasy a lot.
I had a notebook where I would write secrets in an alphabet I’d made up for myself (I can still read and write in it) and one of the first things that went down in my little book was a codeword older me would give younger me to show it really was a future iteration of me. It was a clever idea, I think, stops all the dicking around with “tell me something only I would know!” and has a definitive answer. Unfortunately, I’ve since forgotten what the codeword was. Sorry, past me.
Anyways, I always wanted to know with certainty that things would get better. The difficulties could be bearable if I had a future to look forward to. I could ignore my parents’ religious denial of my identity, my sometimes unbearable loneliness, and crippling self-doubt, so long as I knew someday I would be myself.
Perhaps that’s what I would tell myself if I could only send a sentence:
“We made it!”
or perhaps something along the lines of
“Don’t give up”
So long as I knew they came from my future, past me would get massive encouragement from that.
That’s only centred on my struggles with my gender identity. I hope I would have more to say to myself than that. Aside from that most important message, I would also want to tell younger me to not be afraid of loving, or of getting hurt. I have felt heartbroken a handful of times in my life, and I think knowing I didn’t regret any of that would give past me some strength.
If I were allowed to write a letter to my younger self, I believe this is what I would write:
I hope you’re feeling okay.
This letter is coming to you from 12 years in the future. Yes, it really is. No, I can’t prove it. No, I don’t remember the codeword we chose, sorry. You’ll just have to trust me.
I wanted to tell you that things get better. I know life is hard and it feels like you’re in this dark tunnel that just keeps getting darker and darker. Life feels hopeless, and you sometimes wonder what’s the point of living.
Trust me, you’re going to make it. Every single day you’re getting closer to a future when you’re happy, and genuine, and people love you as you are, a girl.
I am incredibly proud of you. I don’t think I will ever be as brave as you are right now. I admire your courage and strength. Life isn’t easy, and we still have struggles, but they feel like a piece of cake because I remember being you, and I remember how great I can be. You are wonderful and marvellous and so, so great. Stay strong, and don’t lose your hope.
Trust others. People are always going to disappoint you, but you’re always going to disappoint others. No one is perfect. Be quick to forgive, and slow to make assumptions. You can’t read other people’s minds, don’t try to do it. You’re going to make friends who will love you for yourself, but the only way you’ll be able to keep them is by trusting them, and opening up your heart to be hurt. They are going to do things that will make you cry, or tempt you to bitterness and anger. Forgive. Forget.
Love. You will be hurt. Several times, and it is going to make you feel devastated. Still, love. Nothing worth having comes easy, and some of the best things and relationships in your life will have a cost. It’s worth it. The only way to keep your heart from being hurt is to keep it locked away, letting it get cold and hard. You’ll be miserable if you do that. Open yourself up. Some loss is coming your way, but there’ll be much more joy and love, and it will completely make up for it.
Don’t give up. You are more than strong enough. Hold on to hope, and keep being strong.
Yes, I think that’s good. I hope reading that would be good for a 12 or 14 year old Lily.
Anyways, what nuggets of advice or encouragement would you send past iterations of yourself? Do you think they would change too much depending on the age you’d be when receiving the message? Let me know! 🙂