A woman skateboarding down a road near a mountain

Letters to My Younger Self is a series focused on wisdom and self-awareness. Just as you write letters to a friend to encourage and uplift them, here is the advice we would go back and tell our younger ourselves.

Dear 18-year-old me,

You just started college with so much excitement and anticipation. Yet, you are hesitant to expose your loud, opinionated and exuberant personality. So you sit quietly, not wanting to stir things up and trying your best to be the “good girl” you think you are supposed to be.

Please know, you will not always do this. You will not always hold yourself back or hide who you really are. Hold on to hope because freedom is ahead for you. 

You will not always hold yourself back or hide who you really are.

I’m not going to sugarcoat it because the next four years will be extremely hard, and everything you thought you knew will be stripped away. The things that are removed will only reveal your authentic self. 

Stop holding back your opinions. Stop pretending to be someone you are not to make other people comfortable.

You will learn to stand in your boldness, strength, wisdom and beauty with a confidence that will inspire others. You will learn that being weak and making mistakes only help build your strength. You will recognize that vulnerability creates your greatest friendships.

Where you were once insecure, you will walk in confidence. The opinions of others will no longer affect who you are and what you do. Where you were once afraid to be the loudest in the room, you will laugh loudly and boldly, and you will not think twice about it. Where you could never say no to people, you will learn to set boundaries and experience more joy because of it.

Where you were once afraid to be the loudest in the room, you will laugh loudly and boldly.

Throughout the next few years, try not to be so hard on yourself. Show yourself compassion and talk to yourself like you would a friend. You are only human—a hard and beautiful thing. Embrace your humanity along with the humanity of others.

Enjoy being in your own skin. When you are challenged, continue to stand in your identity and your passions. The people who love your quirks and see your potential will remain.

You do not have to lose yourself to be considered good. You do not have to conform to be loved. By embracing your strengths and weaknesses and reflecting your authentic self, you will allow love and connection to find you. 

You are strong enough to stand. You are capable enough to choose the life you want for yourself. Don’t be afraid to upset people.

You are capable enough to choose the life you want for yourself.

Cultivate authenticity in all you do. Be loud. Be opinionated. Be exuberant. Allow others to see the real you.

Was there a specific area you struggled to have confidence in? What advice would you give to your younger self?

Image via Taylor Butters

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