Dear Me

I realize that the #DearMe campaign was for International Women’s Day, but I still wanted to write a letter to myself because I want to see just how much I’ve grown and how happy my younger self would be to know that. So here goes:

Dear Me,

You will be happy to know that future you is happy, right now, in this moment. Future you tries your best to be present in the moment, to be happy with what you have while wishing for that happiness to intensify. You might not understand this right now, but you will.

You’re worrying about a lot of things right now: school, grades, the future, boys, fitting in, and allowing yourself to just be.

You’re gonna laugh, but school will become the last thing on your mind in the future. You’ll have other things that are actually worth your time: work, writing, spending time with family and friends, and educating yourself on things that matter.

You might hate to hear this, but you will receive a C during your first year of university. It will undoubtedly crush your spirit, but you’ll still be alive. In fact, that C will propel you to choose courses that you will actually like. You’ll even learn that grades should take a backseat, especially since you’re not going to grad school (spoiler alert).

You’re not going to work for the UN. In fact, you’ll lose interest in geopolitical problem-solving altogether – and realize that you were never that interested in the first place. You’ll be focused on other ventures, like non-profits who prioritize empowering youth, or writing a blog about why you don’t want to work for the UN.

And – get this – you’ll still be single, and you’ll be okay with that. Nuts, right? I know! You’ll learn to nurture your relationship with friends and family, and, most importantly, with yourself. You shouldn’t worry about finding a guy who likes you, because frankly, teenage boys are kind of idiots. You know this, deep down inside, but you won’t admit it. And you know you want to have a loving relationship with a man who appreciates the things about you that make you different from your peers.

You’ll find other people who will appreciate those things, too! Your nerdiness for pop culture and fiction, your compassion for others, your yearning to make a difference and bring peace to the world, your preference for words, your hesitation towards technology and reality TV – all of it. You are so loved right now (past and future).

You’ll become confident with your body. All of the hangups about fat, hair, scars, shapes, and size will diminish. Not quite disappear (I think that’s for your 40s), but that’s okay. You’ll feel beautiful, and others will notice.

And you’ll be doing things that are good for your health. You’re going to become one of those spiritual junkies who practices yoga, meditates, and loves Elizabeth Gilbert and Pema Chodron. And you won’t care what others have to say about that. Why would you? You’re awesome!

You probably feel that this seems so far away from right now. You’d be right about that. But I want to let you know what you shouldn’t worry too much about the future. Don’t plan too far ahead. Don’t let what you think others think of you mess you up.

Stay in the present moment, because you won’t be able to be a teenager for much longer. Your body will grow sideways. You won’t fit into your teenage clothes anymore (and thank God for that, really). Your youth will be a thing of the past. So stay smart, focus on the things and people who matter the most, and you’ll be just fine.

See you on the other side!

Love,

Future You

My Leading Ladies

I’ve been highly influenced by important women in my life. Today, on International Women’s Day, I want to highlight the fictional ones. These ladies have helped me come to love and accept myself, and to strive for success and improvement.

1. Matilda Wormwood

From Roald Dahl’s beloved book, Matilda was one of my first childhood heroes, simply because she loved books. I had thought that my love for reading set me apart from my classmates in a bad way, but Matilda showed me how you can be yourself and take charge of your life to make it better.

2. Hermione Granger

I saw a lot of myself in Hermione from the Harry Potter series. When I was 9 years old, my grade four teacher read to us Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (still not sure why she didn’t choose the first book), and I was instantly hooked. Yes, the story was engaging and magical and all kinds of amazing, but what stood out to me was Hermione’s book smarts, her bushy hair, her large teeth, and her confidence in being the top of her class. I had the first three characteristics, and I struggled with the fourth. I secretly wanted to be more like Hermione, to save the boys, save world, and occasionally give people a literal/verbal/intellectual smackdown.

3. Anne Shirley

I discovered Anne before Hermione and after Matilda. You can sense a recurring theme here of heroines who love to read books and aren’t afraid of being smart. With Anne, though, she went through a lot of charming mishaps and her mouth got her into trouble – which I loved. She wasn’t perfect, but that wouldn’t stop her from exclaiming about her emotions or sharing the importance of creativity. And it certainly didn’t stop her from working hard to get to the top of her class (although her rivalry with Gilbert Blythe might have helped).

4. Mulan Fa

The one Disney princess/heroine (I know she’s not technically a princess but she deserves to be one) I really identified with. Belle from Beauty and the Beast might have loved books and shown great compassion, but Mulan showed so much bravery that I can’t help but want to be more like her. Well, maybe I won’t use a sword to cut off my hair, join the army, be able to climb a pole, or defeat an evil villain. But Mulan does motivate me to fight for my values and remember what is most important in life.

5. Katniss Everdeen

We’re definitely straying from bookworms here. There’s not much Katniss and I share with each other, but The Hunger Games heroine has motivated me to be more resourceful and brave. And yes, I did start to like braids and archery more, and wondered about taking wilderness survival classes. But the one thing that I admire most about Katniss is how her love for the people in her life fuels her sense of justice and her contribution to the fight for equality. That is definitely something that I want to remember as I make my way through this life.

6. Korra

It took me a while to warm up to her, probably from the not-so-smooth transitions between seasons. Ultimately, though, I came to love how a woman of colour with noticeable muscles could be so compassionate and just, flawed and fiery, and accomplish so much for the good of the world. Korra just feels so real, and she represented a group of people we don’t really get to see on television. A lot of the show’s audience appreciated and identified with that. I know I did, and I especially found solace in her quest to find balance within herself.

7. Leslie Knope

As you can tell from my previous post, I definitely want to be more like Leslie Knope. She’s incredibly passionate and hard-working, and this extends beyond her career into her personal life (or vice versa, depending on what you think defines her more). The lessons I learned from her really confirmed what I had gathered from the previous ladies: it’s okay to be smart. It’s okay to be passionate. It’s okay to care. It’s more than okay to be yourself; in fact, it’s necessary. I learned that you really need to follow your dreams and work your butt off to make them happen. And if you fail, you get up and keep going. Because who knows what else life has in store for you.

There are the big 7 for me. Which female characters have inspired or influenced you?