Little Letter to Self and a Reminder to Speak to Yourself As You Would a Best Friend
Whilst in Mykonos, unable to sleep one night at the anticipation of the photo-heavy, hen party that was about to start, I went outside to journal. The sunrise was beautiful and I found a tranquil spot overlooking the sea; admiring the view and stunning writing spot I’d found. Whilst about to journal my usual daily thoughts, I stopped for a moment. I speak here of how that holiday was so special in the sentimental feelings it conjured up for me, but only because of the conscious decision I made that morning to change my internal dialogue and adopt a level of self-compassion.
Until that moment, I realised I hadn’t fully associated myself with the recovery and challenges I often speak about and, as a result, never feel proud of any of the things I’ve done. I’ve been so hard on myself for so long and so doubting of my abilities, subsequently spending the last two years damaging my confidence by constantly comparing myself to others my age that are on different paths to me. I’ve been harsh about my belief that there’s a criteria for life that I’m somehow behind on, and even blaming brain surgery for the fact I no longer fit society's standards of beauty, even though it was life-saving and a reason to be thankful, not ashamed.
Even so, I’ve convinced myself that what I’ve been saying to myself for so long is true; that the changes post surgery have boxed me into a corner and now mean that, no matter what I do going forwards, things will never be as good as they would have been before. All of these had me lying awake anxious at the ‘best self’ I was going to have to pretend to be.
But I desperately no longer wanted to pretend. All of the negative self-talk was actually just contributing to the stress and pressure I was putting on myself, and the constant feeling of never being good enough. And when I thought about what I would say to my best friend if she were in my shoes, I knew instantly that I wouldn’t at all be judgemental or critical of her. I would instead be so incredibly proud of her for who she had turned into as a result of her hardships, and wouldn't at all undermine or breeze over her resilience.
I’d tell her I was amazed at the fact that not only did she push through the pain, fight to learn so many things again and rebuild her life in a way that was now ‘liveable’ to her, she also made something of her experience in order to make a difference; to carve the way for others affected by her challenges and show there can still be hope despite all seeming lost.
I also wouldn’t think twice to remind her that although this life isn’t what she set out to live, and it’s far from what she might have imagined - with a different career, difference appearance and different perspectives - she still proved it can be just as beautiful by being open minded and allowing it to be. Instead of making her feel badly about her experiences, whenever she doubted her abilities, I’d speak kindly to her and constantly remind her of her accomplishments. So if I'd only ever say caring, constructive things to her, then why is it so hard to speak to myself like this? I questioned, and for that reason, decided to write a letter to myself.
We give ourselves such a hard time and yet we are the only ones that are going to live with ourselves forever. Our happiness and ability to 'show up' to have an effortlessly carefree and enjoyable time, something I desperately longed for again, all begins with the relationship we have with ourselves.
I'd damaged my self-confidence with years of negative self-talk and as a result, I've been subconsciously holding myself back from trying new things, connecting with others in the same way I once did, and fully showing up to every area of my life. Speaking kindly to ourselves seems uncomfortable and difficult to do for so many of us because of the myths that it ignores the reality of what we're facing, exposes us to vulnerability and simply won't make a difference.
Writing a letter forced me to really take the time to look back on everything I've ever faced, being a little kinder to myself in the process of it, and simply choosing to talk to myself as I would my best friend, if she was in my shoes.
My letter was long, but the message was simple:
You enjoy things all the more because you fully appreciate everything you had, and lost.
You know that things can be taken from you so easily and how to no longer let that scare you as you survived an unimaginable loss.
And even without a smile, you have laughed so hard, made the best memories and found a way to surround yourself with things that bring you joy.
That letter inspired the 'Little Letter' necklace because it was such a huge turning point in my life. For the first time ever, I was able to look back at my journey, remembering the pain, but how I pushed through it, and also how I met incredible people, became open to amazing opportunities, tapped into my creativity and embarked on a whole new path that is far more fulfilling along the way.
This necklace serves as a reminder of my promise to be kinder to myself; to really celebrate the small wins, feel immensely proud of the journey I’m on and show myself some love every once in a while, because since making a conscious effort to do that in Mykonos, I've finally felt truly accepting and at peace with my path.
It's also a reminder to ride the wave you're on and trust that whilst it may not easily be seen right now, the reason you’re facing what you are will one day be clear. If we allow ourselves to look back, we can see there were many benefits from the challenges we endured in the past and reason to believe we needed to go through everything we went through in order to become the people we are today.
I hope it serves as the same reminder for you, to always be kind to yourself; speak to yourself as you would your best friend, and maybe write yourself a love letter from time to time.