If this is your first time here, you should know that my entire fitness journey has been an important, life-changing experience for me because it has helped me battle depression. I used to play soccer but was never a workout “regular”. That did not come until later in life after I met my husband. In the letter to myself you’ll find below, you’ll get an inside peek at the despair I was feeling at a young age – a time when you’re supposed to be out having fun with your friends and not dealing with serious stuff yet.
I am telling you that fitness has saved my life. I am VERY passionate about it because I have been amazed at how healthy living can have such a POSITIVE IMPACT on your life. All the times I was prescribed medication, not one doctor EVER “prescribed” exercise. While it is very possible I did need the anti-depressants in the beginning, I wish they had taught me about fitness and how it is possible that it can help – even to the point of coming off of medication. Now, I’m not saying people shouldn’t ever be on them…they do have a use, it’s more about the doctors being so quick to prescribe things for an enormous amount of time without uttering one word about moving your body and eating healthy, nutritious foods. THEY ARE DOCTORS FOR CRYING OUT LOUD! Needless to say, it really angers me and I hope to inspire as many people as I can that living a healthy lifestyle is so worth it, especially if you’re struggling and not in a good place.
Ok, on with the letter… (first published on the blog January 27, 2012)
Wow. It doesn’t really feel like it’s been 12 years since I was 16. My Grandma was right. Time does seem to fly by faster as you get older. I sure do miss her. How do you slow this crazy train down?
The idea for this post comes from DearMe.org.
Dear Me is a collection of just such letters written by 75 of the world’s best-loved personalities to their younger selves and published with photographs of them as teenagers.
You can find letters just like mine all over the internet and it’s really interesting to read them. I enjoyed reading them so much I decided to write my own letter. This idea really resonated with me because being 16 wasn’t easy. I think a lot of people agree that they wouldn’t ever want to be a teenager again but I kind of disagree. Well, no I don’t. I like being wiser. Does that make me sound old? I think so. But getting older isn’t so bad.
First though, let’s take it back to 1989. (Feel free to grab some coffee.)
Young, innocent, not a care in the world. That is, before I realized the world can be an ugly, dirty place. Can my kids please stop growing now before the world messes with them too much? I’m only half-kidding.
Dear My 6-year-old Self,
Our parents just got divorced but you don’t have to be sad. You have more people in life that love you now than you had before. Everyone deserves to be happy and sometimes that means not being together anymore. People grow apart and new people come along that you wouldn’t have gotten to know otherwise.
You’re going to start playing soccer in 3rd grade. Don’t stop playing after your sophomore year. Stick with it no matter how sad you’re feeling. Later you’ll see how much exercise can improve the way you feel on the inside.
Dear My 16-year-old Self,
Stop thinking you know everything. That couldn’t be further from the truth. When you argue or get snotty with your parents just remember that you have four children in your future so you can imagine how life might be for you when they’re 16.
Hold onto your love of writing – it’ll come in handy some day in a way you would never expect. I know you love to write. Remember when you used to make up stories and write them in a notebook? Or copy pages of the dictionary word for word? I still have all of your poems. You’re not fooling anybody you know.
The journal you’re keeping, no matter how ashamed you feel, will end up saving your life. Instead of making mom search for it, I wish you would’ve just told her right away. Or the police. She already knew that you were hurting, she just didn’t know why. She’s your mom. Trust her and believe that she’ll fight for you – not look down on you. You’re doing enough of that yourself these days. It wasn’t your fault. ALWAYS remember that. I’m happy that you wrote everything in that journal though. See? There’s that writing stuff again. The good news? That journal will be turned over to the authorities to help prosecute him. You won’t get it back. What a great “family friend” and neighbor he turned out to be.
Have you been to court yet? You’ll go to a few of the hearings and you’ll be so strong and keep your head up high even when you feel like sinking into the floor. You’ll amaze the judge and the attorney representing you with all of the family and friends who are there supporting you. The sentencing hearing will be your favorite. Don’t pay attention to his wife and sister whispering – the judge has words with them. The sucky part? He definitely didn’t get the punishment he deserved. Sex offenders never do it seems. At least he got something and has to live with the charges forever though.
*This is the cover of a photo album I made when I was 16. The butterfly stickers came from my therapist I was seeing at the time. Butterflies are a huge representation of my life.
The words are lyrics from Mariah Carey’s “Looking In”.
She smiles through a 1,000 tears,
and harbors adolescent fears.
She dreams of all that she can never be,
she wades in insecurity.
And hides herself inside of me.
This past year has been the toughest year of your life. I know you’re feeling like you want to end it all, but get rid of those thoughts. Too many people will miss you. (shut up, it’s true) While it may feel like there’s no place in the world for you right now, what happens TO you does NOT define who you are. I wish you could feel how I feel right now and know in your heart that life is not over. In fact? It’ll get a lot better. You’ll see. You are stronger than you think and you can get through more than you know.
While curled up in the fetal position on your bedroom floor wrapped in blankets, feel free to listen to “Hero” as many times as you want. The words in that song speak to you because you ARE a hero and don’t let anybody else tell you otherwise. They don’t know you like I do.
When some of those close to you walk away for seemingly no reason, realize that they probably don’t know how to help you with what you’re dealing with right now. They’re just kids themselves. It’s not a good excuse for them to be leaving you – I know it deepens the hurt you’re already feeling, but just don’t focus on thinking that you’re the problem. Most of them weren’t even real friends at all. In time, you’ll understand what I mean.
Stop chasing boys. #1. You should be focusing on you and loving yourself again first. #2. You’re going to get married in 10 years and none of them will compare to your husband anyway. I promise.
You are not fat. Food is not the enemy. You need it to nourish your body and fuel it for the tough workouts you’ll be starting in …9 years.
Don’t wait 9 more years before you start working out. It’ll save you a lot of time in dealing with those anti-depressants that make you feel like you’re simply numbing the pain and walking in a fog. It feels good to be free from them and working out will help you feel better about yourself. You’ll get stronger inside AND out.
Stop smoking while you’re at it.
In four years you’re going to be a mommy of a beautiful baby boy. He’s going to change your whole world and you’ll begin to realize what’s really important in life. It really is all about the small things. More “friends” will leave you during this time because they don’t have the responsibilities you have so let ’em go if that’s what they choose. You know what’s important now.
Be kind to your step-parents. In 10 years you’ll be one yourself and it’s not as easy as you might think. Instead, just know they want the best for you and that they do love and care for you more than you know. Yes, blended families can be hard on children at times, but it can be hard on all of the parents involved as well. Just keep your head up and spread the love. You’ll do great!
You’ll make your fair share of mistakes, and you’ll learn from them. Keep making them. They help you learn some of the biggest lessons in life. You’re being challenged right now but there’s a reason for it. Yeah, I didn’t think so either when I was your age.
Never lose sight of your dreams and goals. EVER. Some people wake up and wish for success, you’re one of the people that will wake up and work towards it. Who do you think is going to become successful first? Don’t wait for people to believe in you, believe in yourself and do your own thing. You have a great heart. All that really matters is what you think about yourself anyway.
And remember this:
The ones who say “you can’t” and “you won’t” are probably the ones scared that “you will”.
Who you are right now is the young, naive, shy, hopeless, depressed girl who will blossom like a butterfly (after feeling like you got pounded into the pavement, face first) and become a mother, wife and fitness blogger who learns how to enjoy life again and inspire others to start caring about their own health. Everyone deserves to feel good about themselves! And guess what? Your blog will be recognized as one of the top fitness blogs by Shape Magazine.
See? I told you you could write!
Me (your 28-year-old self)
Do you ever wonder how life could be different if just one major event in your life had never existed? Or how about longing for the innocence of childhood? Before anything bad ever happened? Completely unrealistic, I know.
Sometimes I have those feelings but then I realize that I wouldn’t be exactly who I am right now. I guess it’s true when they say that the biggest traumatic events or “losses” in our lives shape us and help us become the people we are meant to be.
Want to write your own letter? If you do and you publish it on your blog, I’d love if you dropped a link below so I can read it!
Amazing post Mindi. Simply amazing. I applaud you for posting this. It is crazy how much time can change things. Never regret the things that have happened to you because they have made you who you are today. Stronger, confident and beautiful. I love you!!!
Melinda F says
Thank you, I LOVE YOU! :)
mayra novoa says
wow! i really need to do this. your story brought tears to my eyes.
Melinda F says
Highly recommended Mayra :) If you do, I’d love to read it! It’s great to do even if you keep it private. Very therapeutic.
Barbara B says
Melinda – YOU are an amazing woman and I am so proud of you!!