Letter to my 22-year-old Self

  A film still from a silent film, where I played a singer. Here I was "pretending" to sing.

 A film still from a silent film, where I played a singer. Here I was "pretending" to sing.

Recently I discovered the amazing spoken word artist/poet, Andrea Gibson. She is inspiring in her beautiful and powerful words and her willingness to share her vulnerability and voice. I found clicked through a series of internet meanderings and came across a page (that I can no longer find) of letters written to one's 22 year old self. I wish I could find it again! I got inspired to write my own letter:

Dear 22 year old self:

I know you are consumed by this concept of perfection which you believe will make you beyond reproach. You aspire to make films and act and write, and want to make the world cry and laugh because of your heart. You are in love with beauty and believe the world will discover you and bloom you into your destiny.

Except, when you don’t.

Sometimes, you are living in a different place than your body, and this feels like bad acting. And sometimes, you tear at your own skin, and wonder who you are. Sometimes, ugliness obliterates the beauty—and your heart grows black. Sometimes, your wanton success is a battle cry for something dead in you. Something in you that is ready to fall away. Something that no longer belongs to you.

You turn away from yourself at those times—the times when your self-hatred dominates and crumbles you into a broken, silent doll. Those times—dear one, those times are when grace enters—if you look for it—and grace, it reaches deep into your heart and tells you to sing. Your heart tells you that your power is your brokenness, if only you could have one moment of silence. If you are too busy listening to the detractors within your mind, or worse, to the oppressors of humanity on to which you have flung the darkness within you. Turn down the volume on that station and tune into your very own, true voice. Your voice holds a power you don’t know about yet. 

I can tell you now that your voice will transform you into a post-modern saint with a yearning to hear itself in all its ugliness and beauty.  Your voice, like a tornado, will harvest the undercover music of being. I can tell you now that you can trust this voice that lies sleeping within, but can be awakened at any time of day or night, if you can be still, just for a moment.

One day, when you are quite a bit older, you will discover your gifts—and your poetry will bloom into songs and your voice will find its depth and width, and it will no longer stray from emotion or truth for very long. One day, your beauty will age into grace and your skin will sag, and stretch, and your address will disappear, and your world will be at once very very large, and very very small. And you will still have self-hatred at the quick, and you will still strive, at times, for perfection, and you will still, sometimes, get it all wrong. But, you will have a voice that can hold it all, and move you forward into your larger Self, the Self you sense, but can’t yet embody. And the spell of disempowerment will loosen its grip on your body, it will be shed like a snake’s skin—and you will discover a newfound freedom that will be both new and old. And in your forever expanding and contracting home of presence, you will funnel the true yearnings of your soul into your voice.

Love,

Your 40 year old future self