Let me start this off by saying that I see a therapist. Every other week I sit in a cozy office with a Ross House Latte in my hand and bawl my eyes out over life, but its good. And I don’t think its taboo or weird and I’m not ashamed of it.
So today I sat drinking my chai latte talking through the same things I struggle with on a daily basis when my therapist said “what would you say to the five year old version of yourself to take care of her right now?”
I legitimately choked on my coffee. It struck a nerve and it hit my heart HARD. And then I was crying some real crocodile tears. All I could picture is my sweet (not quite five years old) cousin Kate telling me the things I’ve been telling my therapist for the past two years. The rest of the session was pretty much a wash because I just cried the whole time, but I’ve spent the rest of the day thinking about what she said to me, and I think I know the answer now.
What would I tell Kate? Sweet, beautiful and completely hilarious Kate who calls McDonalds “Happy Donalds” and doesn’t know what heartache is just yet?
Trust your gut. Always. Every single time. If you think someone is treating you badly, then they probably are. And it’s not worth it. If you think you should take a job, cool. Take it. If it feels right, it’s right and if it feels wrong it’s wrong. No matter what anyone says. I can think of a million other situations that this applies to. Just always trust your gut, ok??
Life is a lot easier when you like yourself. Self-compassion is non-negotiable. Once you lose it its really hard to get it back too. It’s worth the work to find, but it’s really hard. Do the maintenance. Journal, pray, figure out who you are, take care of yourself. It’s worth the hard parts. Plus, you’re probably a pretty cool person and self-hatred doesn’t look good on anyone.
Leave when you want to leave, but stay when you want to stay. People outside of situations will always be able to offer words of advice, but sometimes those words go against what your gut says (and remember, trust your gut always). If you think a place is good, stay. If you think a person is worth it, stay. If you think its worth the work then it probably is.
Work through regrets as they happen. Don’t bottle them up. So let’s say you didn’t listen to what I said above. Work through it. Accept it and cry it out. What you should not do is spend months (ok or your whole last semester of undergrad) running from it. Because eventually it’ll come back up and it’ll be tougher and even more embarrassing to have to deal with when you’re 25.
Understand that burnout is real. It is so real and it doesn’t discriminate. Things add up quickly and then you’re too tired to get out of bed and too sad to do any of the work you’re supposed to do. Take breaks, take time to just be you (not an employee, not a student, a daughter, etc). To do lists are good but they aren’t anyway to live your life.
Question God when you need to. This one sounds bad, doesn’t it? I’m wrestling with this right now. We are supposed to trust that His will is the best will. And in the end, it is. But in the middle it can be rough and tough and painful. But wrestle with it and pray about it and ask Him every question you need to. He listens no matter what, and He’s no further from you when you’re questioning Him then when you’re praising him. Even when you doubt.
Your people aren’t perfect. I still get devastated when I fight with my Mom or when my Dad sends me a sassy text. I break down over ignored snapchats and rejected plans. Because I expect perfect people and perfect outcomes. But it’s just not realistic and people will fail you constantly. And it’s okay. Love em anyway.
Ask for help. This one may be the hardest one on this whole entire list. Ask for help. Admit when you can’t do it alone. This one has to apply to physical work, mental health, relationships; all of it. Every aspect of your life. If I had asked for help during my eating disorder I probably wouldn’t have suffered so long. Trust that the truest people in your life will be there to help no matter how ugly.
I think about how much I’ve learned through experience. How much I’ve ached through experience. How many times I’ve laid in my bed and cried for hours over things and not heard from people what I truly needed to hear. And I haven’t taken care of my current self, or the five year old version of myself.
So as I bawled through an entire box of tissues while my girl Marina (she’s seen me cry so many times I feel like I have to refer to her as “my girl” because we are that close) watched, I flashed through so many experiences where I haven’t believed that my feelings were appropriate; or even real. So to Kate, or to my five year old self, and honestly to my 25 year old self I think the most important thing to say is this:
Whatever you’re feeling is valid. This one may also sound a little strange. But I cannot tell you how many times people will tell you “its going to be okay”. “You’ll get through this eventually”. “It’ll all work out”. And sometimes (most of the time) that is just not what you need to hear, girlfriend. Tone it out. Feelings and emotions are there to tell us when something isn’t right; and hearing that “you’ll get through it” isn’t the only answer someone can give you. You feel however you feel because of what experiences you’re dealing with. So deal with them and feel how you need to feel.
I’m unsure if any of that even makes sense. But it’s all worth saying. And if Kate can turn 25 with a little less uneccessary heartache then it’s all been worth it.
And if she turns 25 and still calls McDonalds “Happy Donalds”, then I’ll be the happiest girl in the world.