What I Wish I’d Known Earlier – Birthday Letter To Myself 10 Years Ago.

Dorota,

I’m writing to you from the future. You have your 15th birthday today, I have 25th. A lot will happen in your life and change in your character during that time. You know already that you reached a breaking point in your life – recently you turned from a very shy kid to a fairly self-confident girl. A few weeks ago you fell head over heels in love for this guy from an older class and (oups, I’m going to tell you a secret!) it will turn into your first big love.  It’s a very important time for you.

I want to tell you a few things I wish I had known 10 years ago. Trust me, better than anyone I know what you feel, who you are and who you want to become – I was there myself.

I will start from easy things but stay alert, it’s going to get serious 🙂

Firstly, drop this damn German as soon as you can! 🙂 You don’t like this language, you don’t feel excited about speaking it so don’t waste more time. I speak three foreign languages now but German is not one of them. In German  I can order a beer and introduce myself. Not bad for all these years of learning, huh? Work on your English (listen more!) and don’t force yourself to something you don’t like. Choose  another language even if it’s considered to be less useful.

Soon you will start wondering what subjects at school you enjoy, what class profile to choose in high school. I won’t tell you what to do. But 10 years later you will feel the best while travelling, spending your time in international company, meeting new cultures, helping others and spending time in the mountains.

I still try to put this all together and turn it into my way of life and earning money. Maybe if you know this before you will figure something out sooner? Good luck!

Never drop anything because others want you to. Not long ago to resigned from karate trainings which you enjoyed a lot. You were proud you can do 50 push-ups and a twine (oh, these days are sooo long gone! 😉 ). That you can tie your belt quickly and help 2 beginners before going to the gym. I still can count to 10 in Japanese and I remember parts of the dojo oath. And I still wonder if I should’ve quit the trainings. Remember, listen to yourself in such situations.

Don’t be afraid of new things. Develop constantly and learn. Look for new hobbies, be proactive. Don’t let things go if you don’t succeed immediately. I know you’re taught everything has to be perfect. Only the highest grades, otherwise you’re useless. If you cook something that’s not really edible, it means you’re bad at it and you should be ashamed. But it’s not true, making mistakes is fine. Don’t be ashamed of failures, they mean you try to do something for yourself. One, two, three times you will fail. It will be acceptable for the fifth time and great for the fifteenth – and people will start being jealous.

Don’t stick to toxic people. If you feel someone is trying to manipulate you and expects you will always be available – let it go. This person is not worth your time and stress. If you feel bad and uncomfortable with someone, this person won’t be your friend.

I know you want everybody to like you and you’re afraid of critics. That’s your personality type and you’ll never get rid of it fully. But the sooner you realize it, the sooner you’ll be able to face it. Some people won’t like you and the sooner you accept it, the better for you.

Don’t be afraid of bad, difficult moments in your life. Everything happens for a reason and even if something seems an end of the world to you, in a few months or years – it will look differently. You will realize the world didn’t end and thanks to this difficult event you became a wiser person with valuable experience.

You start to change a lot. You are curious, you want to try, test and enjoy what life brings you. It’s full of new emotions now. But remember, your parents are afraid of these changes. They still want to stop them, they’re not ready for you turning from a child into a young woman. That’s why you feel misunderstood by them and you can’t tell them this.

Here’s the big deal. You can’t talk honestly about your feelings. The sooner you understand it and start fighting it, the better for you. Difficult talks, even though they’re not fun, have good results. It’s the most important lesson I missed. It still affects relationships with the most important people in my life and I wish I could change it.

Start with your parents. Try to have an honest talk with them. You need to explain your needs and feelings. They need to understand your new mindset, they won’t figure it out by themselves. Tell them you need their trust now. Their belief that they raised you to be a smart girl, despite the silly age you are in.

That you need support more than before. The changes they fear so much are unstoppable now and you need to embrace it. Talk about it.

But you can’t talk for now. You don’t feel comfortable talking to them, you feel they don’t trust you. You often feel criticized – give them examples, remember that “you always…” kind of blaming only hurts people but doesn’t have any result.

You’re afraid to share important things because you don’t want to hear a negative reaction. You’re sensitive, every word of critics hurts. You prefer to say nothing but remember – nothing will change then.

You need to be able to make more of your own decisions now. You need your space to do your things, to try, make your own mistakes. You will do it anyway – only lack of honest talk will lead you to doing it in secret. You feel it’s going this way already and you don’t see any other way.

But there is another way.

It’s not easy. But the one you want to take isn’t either. Perfect lies don’t exist and the time will come when you will have to face consequences.

You need to learn honest talks now. Be brave. Otherwise it will accumulate and hit you hard many times and not only in your contact with parents. It will affect your relationship too – even 10 years later. You will be able to discuss your problems with everybody – except for the person the problem should be discussed with. Read about effective communication, use the facts – feelings – consequences – expectations scheme.

I fight it for some time now since I realized where the issue comes from. I still have a long way to go, I still sweat before a difficult talk, my voice and hands shake. I’m afraid, even though there’s no reason to. If you start now, when your character is shaping so much – you will become a better person than I am now.

And that’s what I wish you.

I also wish you to make your dreams come true. Not that “your dreams come true” because they won’t by themselves – you need to make them. Believe that even the most abstract dream is possible if only you’re determined enough and you have a plan.

You are a good, smart person and you have a big potential. You haven’t discovered it yet but you have a touch of positive craziness in yourself. It’s not visible at first and you keep surprising people who get to know you better. You’re an interesting person and you are beautiful – all parts of your body are fine, stop wishing some were bigger 🙂 Appreciate yourself and others, live your life.

And be aware that what it looks like depends only on you.

Ten years older you,

Dorota

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