This weekend I’ve been…well…stressed. I’ve had a lot to do in a very small window of time, and this week that will continue to be the case. And when I get stressed out I tend to beat myself up about it. I harangue myself for taking on so much, for choosing a difficult and thankless career path, and for just not being better at things.
Well, this morning I remembered something. I opened up my drawer, digging down below a myriad of office supplies to the bottom, and there it was, right where I’d left it: A pink envelope with a Monsters Inc. forever stamp in the right hand corner. And written in tiny pencil scrawl was the addressee and the sender. Both of them were me.
I wrote a letter to myself.
I wouldn’t normally do something like that. It was an assignment for a class. The letter was supposed to be a writing exercise, some odd prompt from this spiritual-writing-journal-textbook – required. The assignment? Write an encouraging letter to yourself, mail it, and eventually read it when you need a boost. My professor was one of those flighty people, the ones who you know mean well but usually come off as a little off their rocker. Naturally we all thought the assignment was a bit strange, and none of us were excited to start.
The paper we had to use was a printed version of some of her artwork (which was admittedly very good). A little green hummingbird was painted in the corner as a good luck charm. Cute.
So I tried to come up with something helpful. I took into account what I was feeling at that time and what words of encouragement I felt I might need to hear later on. I put some legitimate effort into this letter. Then this morning, after my long harried weekend, I read that letter to myself. Here’s what it said:
This letter is supposed to be encouraging, so I’ll do my best. Speaking of which, your best is enough. Though it’s good to have high aspirations, don’t always beat yourself up if you don’t make it there. You have the talent it takes to go far. Bill told you that. Don’t forget it. You’re in college for a reason: to hone your skills. Learn something, get better, and then go out there and do what you’ve always wanted to do. What’s a life fulfilled if not a dream completed? You know who you are, who you want to be. Don’t give in to what other people say about you. You’ve come too far for that. You’re beautiful, have a beautiful soul, and are a beautiful person. Share that beauty with the world. Let them run their fingers through your soul. You have the power. You can.
Just what I needed to hear. But is it enough? I can write as many letters as I want, but unless I believe what I’ve written, what some confident version of me on a better day wanted to tell the stressed out me, then it’s useless. I’m going to try to believe today. Maybe I’ll pull this letter out more often (there’s just something more effective about reading your thoughts on paper than just hearing them in your head) and let myself know that everything will be okay. Lord knows I could use the positive self-talk every once in a while.
Maybe it wasn’t such a stupid assignment after all.