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A Letter to My Younger Self

Emily Dean

“I’m at a time in my life where I stick out like a sore thumb - a sore thumb that is very much a part of a hand, a body.”

I awoke this morning with a thought in my mind, a thought that I wanted to share with a young woman whom I don’t know very well.

As the thought was born in words, I came to realize that this was as much a letter to me as it was a letter to her. I came to realize things about myself that I had never truly understood.

This letter to her became a letter to my younger self.


Dear ____ ,

At 17, I was afraid to stand out and speak up and do what was unpopular. Writing that down, I don’t know why I cared so much. I don’t know why I did things I didn’t want to. I don’t know why I did things I didn’t believe in, just to feel that I belonged. I do remember the awareness, finally appearing to be like the other girls - looking like them and talking like them and doing the things that “other girls” did.

Now that I’m telling you this, I think I might know. The act of writing thoughts down helps me to understand them.

That whole time, I was chasing belonging.

But I had it all wrong.

You see, I thought belonging came from becoming more like the others, focusing introspectively and morphing to fit my surroundings.

In the recent past, I’ve come to realize that belonging really doesn’t have to do anything with you. Belonging comes from loving other people. Belonging comes from setting human relationship as a priority of utmost importance. Belonging comes from finally loving who you were created to be.

I’m at a time in my life where I stick out like a sore thumb - a sore thumb that is very much a part of a hand, a body.

I’ve never felt more at home. I’ve never felt so connected to humanity.

We’re all the same kind of different.

I wanted to tell you that I’m proud of you. I’m proud of you for loving and living in pursuit of what is important, unapologetically.

Love,

Maddie


Article & Photography by Madeline Long