• ilana

Letter #1"The creative self is delicate."

Letters to a Young Woman Project.

I asked women over the age of 40 to write a letter to their younger selves.

Dear 22 year old Me,

I am so grateful for the opportunity to reach out to you. I hope you can hear me. It can be really difficult to hear another person’s advice. You must think I’m an old lady… but I hope that you will trust me since I know you better than anybody. When I was your age, I wish I would have had the patience and wherewithal to understand that my creative self needed attention and nurturing. I wish I would have been able to recognize it and take that time and space for myself instead of being so willing to give it all away. I have had to forgive myself later in life for missing out on Me. I squandered myself on others approval. I squandered myself on my boyfriends. I squandered myself on the numbing effects of booze, pot, and being the life of the party for others. I wish I could have freely explored my gender and sexuality. I might have chosen to be acknowledged by pronouns that didn’t exploit and subject me to a continual, habitual lessening of my standards for myself. Times were different then. Go exploring! (whatever that means to you)

I wish I would have had more feminist mentors to remind me not to lose focus. How many hours have I spent worrying about my appearance? Punishing myself just for being a woman in my body? Hating my body? turning the abuse from men in on myself? Too many hours to count. Precious hours. I was never ever good enough for myself, so how could I be good enough for anyone else? Your sexual power and intellectual power are not mutually exclusive. Your power is total.

The creative self is delicate. When I say ‘creative self,’ I mean the most vulnerable, true, authentic you. I think by now in your life, you have experienced the feeling of ‘being present’ maybe during your work or during your travels. Remember when you went to Oxford and reserved entire days for yourself to explore the city alone? Remember when you hiked all the way past some strange neighborhoods on an adventure to find the forest where CS Lewis and Tolkien used to hang out? That is your adventurous self, your bold, uncompromising self. If you make more room for her, and less room for those who want to take from you, you will have plenty of energy left over to share with everyone!

You must tend to this daily. Imagine that the more you fill your own well, the more you can overflow into the cups of others. Do not waste your time on anyone who threatens that. They will deplete you. Draw boundaries. Say ‘no’ as many times as it takes until it feels as good as saying ‘yes’. You stop pleasing people, they will stop being pleased. So, OK.. that’s the way it is. The shadow is real.. it exists in all of us. You are not responsible for anyone else’s shadow. You have enough to focus on when you dance with your own. You are about to meet someone who will darken your life for 7 long years. Can you catch yourself before you get in too deep?

Hold your head high. Change is inevitable. You are already a survivor. Look how far you have come. Rest.. and then return to the path. Every step of the way, there is a field of abundance holding you up, and a long line of seekers and adventurers to hold you to the light.

With love,

Anonymous She/Her 46

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