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by Lyric Rivera

Nov 21, 2023

Letter to my Younger Self

I didn’t believe I was capable of anything and everything I did was destined for failure, but I don’t think like that anymore, and “I love your life!” My grandfather commented on one of my Facebook posts, “You are a long way from the sniveling youngster who often declared, “I WISHT I WAS NEVER BORN!” – followed by a gigantic smiley face with hearty eyes.

My grandfather has always meant the world to me, and when I was younger, he saw potential in me that I struggled to see in myself. The younger me was in pain. The younger me was lost. The younger me was barely hanging on. The younger me was isolated, struggling to find a place to fit in, wanting to belong. The younger me could never have imagined that I would grow into who I am today. The younger me, who couldn’t imagine growing up, and wished they were never born, would now be happy (possibly proud) with who I have become and the life I’m leading. 

In my work, I’ve tried to be the resource or the person I needed at various stages of my life (when that person was not available to me). Too many of us are alone in the world, isolated by things we feel others may not understand. Shame and silence make secrets out of something that, if not kept in the dark, could help us connect with others who would actually “get it.”

There are many things I know now that I wish I could tell previous versions of myself, wisdom that could have saved me tons of heartache. It would be easy to fill out many multi-page letters with all the lessons I’ve learned since then, but since I can’t REALLY send this letter to my past self, I’m sending my letter (and my love) to you. I hope it helps. 

Dear Younger Me, it’s Me, YOU, in the future (the year 2023). 🙂 

Hello you beautiful soul! (I know you don’t feel that way about yourself right now, but one day you will.) There are many things that I would like to tell you, but at the same time, I don’t want to give too many spoilers, but I do think you’d be happy with where we (YOU) are today. 

First (and most importantly), I need you to know that you are NOT broken or a mistake that shouldn’t exist, and the people around you would NOT be better off if you were never born. I know you’ve considered all the ways people around you’s lives could be better without you. However, they would be devastated if they lost you (believe it or not). 

I know things are hard right now (and you can’t imagine yourself in the future), and not being alive sounds like a logical and potentially better alternative to your pain, but stay. You WILL grow up. You WILL see adulthood, which will be better than anything you can imagine currently, but I need you to hang in there. I promise it will be worth it.  

Second, something I’ve debated telling you, as I know this knowledge may alter your future considerably (but I know this information will help with some of the pain mentioned above): Gender is not binary. It is a fluctuating spectrum. There are people in the world who are neither man nor woman, who experience gender along a continuum, in fluid states, or not at all. Sorry I can’t say more about this now, but I hope this small (but essential) fact helps answer some questions in your life’s journey.

Related side notes: Also, it’s okay to be attracted to people regardless of gender. It doesn’t mean there’s something wrong with you that you can’t “pick a side,” AND you’re not wrong about monogamy (it’s okay that it’s not for you). You’ll understand more about that last point when you’re older. You are NOT going to hell for questioning what you’ve been told in church. You’re not going to hell for who you love or who you are. You’re not going to hell – end of the sentence. One day you will stop losing sleep over this. 

The next thing I want to tell you is another thing I’ve debated mentioning, as this information is life-changing for all who have it: NeuroDiversity (a concept that will still be very new in your time) is a thing. 

There are many differences in how each human brain process information (sensory information such as lights, touch, taste, smells, sounds, balance, and movement). Additionally, people’s brains sort and store information in many different ways depending on their brain’s configuration (or NeuroType). These invisible differences in our brains influence how we learn, communicate, socialize, and interact with the world. Some NeuroTypes have names (Autism, ADHD, Dyslexia, Hyperlexia, OCD, PTSD, BPD, DID, etc.), and some we likely don’t know yet.

These differences in our brains are not wrong or bad but a natural part of human diversity. Still, those with these differences often take the blame for struggling against systems tailored towards people whose brains are considered standard (or closest to the socially accepted “norm”). 

All of that to say this: 

A LOT of the things people blame you for are NOT your fault. You are not “too sensitive,” you are not “lazy,” and you are not “failing to live up to your potential.” You are trying your best and deserve compassion, if not from others, then from yourself. It is unfair that people constantly tell you you’re not applying yourself” when you’re already trying your hardest. Your best is all you can give. If you know you have tried your hardest, you must learn to let it be enough (even if others want more from you). 

Other people will always project themselves upon you, assuming your mind is like theirs, without understanding everyone’s mind works uniquely. People who fail to understand NeuroDiversity will harm you (and everyone around them) because of their assumptions. Many people who have harmed you will have no idea of the harm their assumptions and projections cause. You will have to reconcile the fact that YOU are not the problem in these situations. 

People will push you to be more like them, which would mean hiding parts of yourself. You will try to blend in, and you will try to hide, but that hiding is what makes you feel lonely and isolated. The parts of yourself that you hide, the parts you think nobody would possibly understand, are the parts that make you human. Hiding your needs, hopes, desires, and joys stop you from making authentic connections. It’s why you feel alone, even when surrounded by people. 

Nobody can get to know the “real you” if you’re not being “real” with people. You feel like you “don’t belong” because you’re trying to fit yourself in, making yourself small instead of living openly. Quality over quantity: The best relationships are ones where we can be open, honest, and authentic with people we trust. It’s better to have a tiny circle of quality friends you can trust with your life than thousands of acquaintances you can’t trust or depend on. 

Lastly, I’m leaving you with some words of wisdom from the future, a quote from Brene Brown that doesn’t exist yet in your time but has helped me a lot in mine:

“True belonging doesn’t require that we change who we are; It requires that we BE who we are.” – Brene Brown

I hope you find the strength to BE who YOU are. 

With Love,

The Future You

Neurodiversity, Wellness, Mental Health

by Lyric Rivera

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