For International Women’s Day, YouTube has asked women to record messages of advice and encouragement for their younger selves. I decided to give it a try, although I didn’t want to do a video. #dearme
As I sit down to write this message to you, I realize how much I wish I was more like you.
You are brilliant. You have great ideas. You love learning. You care about stuff. You care about truth. You have ideals. You are passionate about things and you want to jump into them and explore them and immerse yourself.
You are adamant about staying true to who you are and what you believe. This doesn’t make you popular and this doesn’t help you fit in all the time, but you never regret it.
It’s true that sometimes other people don’t like the way you are because they don’t want to deal with you, and because they are too afraid to look at things differently or to question the status quo, and the way you are challenges them to reconsider things that make them uncomfortable. But that doesn’t mean you are wrong and that doesn’t mean you should stop. Things need to be changed, and you know that most of the time ‘being popular’ and ‘fitting in’ are meaningless when you don’t stand for anything and you don’t believe in yourself.
I want you to hold onto all those things. Those things are what put you on your path to fulfillment. It’s hard sometimes. Use those things as your guiding light and find your way back. And maybe these pieces of advice will help you do that:
Stop letting what other people expect from you determine your actions! Do what YOU want. I cannot begin to explain how much time and energy you could save if you stopped worrying about how other people would react to something you wanted to do (or didn’t want to do). How much better your time and energy would be spent if you just spent it doing stuff you wanted! Spend more time reading. Spend more time writing. Spend more time learning. Spend more time singing weird songs. Stop worrying about what people think of you because you don’t have a boyfriend (you still don’t and you still haven’t been tarred and feathered). Stop worrying about if people think you have too many Indian friends (racism is messed up). Stop worrying if other people will judge you for spending too much time alone writing (you’re a creative introvert, people need to chillax and deal with it). Stop worrying if some of your cooler friends will stop being your friend because you also have uncool friends (who are the real Losers in this equation?).If that sh*! is what is really important to those people, then screw them. They will live pathetic, narrow lives that you can shower with your own brand of pity. That sh*! is NOT important. You know this. You have way more interesting and important sh*! to focus on. You could be way more awesome at stuff you care about if you stopped letting other people’s doubts and issues become your doubts and issues. Your biggest regrets are always that you wasted your time, your life, trying to fit into what someone else expected of you, pursuing goals and accomplishments you don’t care about. A lot of the times, you are miles ahead of everyone else, and you would get much further along with that brilliant stuff if you stick with that stuff not everyone else’s stuff. You are going to regret that you didn’t spend more time reading more books, writing more, studying more things, playing more music, and chilling with smart, inspiring people more. You are not going to regret that you didn’t go to more parties, kiss more boys, or accumulate more Facebook friends. Don’t measure yourself by other people’s standards (they get it wrong most of the time anyway), because it is your own standards that are going to get you in the end.
The H8ers are gonna H8. They will. People will let you down. It sucks. You know who some of them are; they’ll do it a lot. But this too shall pass. This too shall come again. You’ll have to feel the hurt, and then let it pass over you. You will deal with it the way you deal with it. And you can. And it’s ok to do it your way and not someone else’s. Those people have their own problems that are making them ugly. They are not trying to make a beautiful, meaningful life like you are. They don’t get you. But that is not your problem. It’s not you, it’s them. There is nothing wrong with you. Keep on keeping on. Ignore the naysayers.
Have more confidence. I know you don’t think you’re anything special. You really believe that everyone has the potential to be amazing and incredible. But that doesn’t mean you can’t be AWESOME. You are cooler than you think you are. I bet other people think you are cooler than you think they think you are. You are prettier and smarter than you think you are. You could probably get away with a LOT more if you just owned your awesomeness and walked with a little more confidence. All that stuff you don’t even think about doing or trying because you think you can’t, or people won’t let you, or people will make fun of you for, you should have more faith in yourself and give it a shot. People may surprise you. You may surprise you. Rock on my friend.
You don’t have to be the best. I don’t know why this world is obsessed with ranking people . . who is the best dancer, who is the best singer, who is the best as calculus, who gives the best motivational speeches at the track meets . . . but girl, you don’t have to be the best at something to be allowed to do it. There is so much stuff you never bother trying or learning or experiencing because you know you won’t be even close to the best at it. And true, a lot of times people ignore you or don’t help you because it doesn’t seem like you are super talented at something. But if you enjoy doing something, do it! That’s reason enough in and of itself. Just because other people have a twisted obsession with rating everyone and making everyone feel like dirt, doesn’t mean you have to. And besides, you will never get better at something that you never try or you never practice.
Stand up, fight back. You do this sometimes. Keep doing it. We let people get away with sh*! so much in this world, usually on “little” things. But you see that those “little” things add up to big things, and people need to be called on their sh*! and the cycle needs to be broken. So do it. Even if it is an adult who needs to be called on their sh*! and should know better. When you stand up for others, when you fight for fair treatment for yourself, that’s when you are the most proud of yourself. That’s when you feel the most yourself and the most right with world and where you are supposed to be. Because you are.
Don’t wait for opportunities to come to you. They won’t come. You have been raised in a little bit of a meritocracy myth. Meritocracy is great and it is great that you have internalized it, but the world doesn’t always work that way. Most of the time you have to fight tooth and claw for something you want. And the rest of the time, you usually have to make your own opportunities. And it takes a lot more work and frustration and anger than it really should. But that’s the way to get what you want and do what you want. So WORK HARD. No one is going to hand you the keys to the kingdom, even if they should. You are going to have make those keys yourself, or else figure out how to blow those gates down.
Try sharing. I know you hate sharing. Especially sharing yourself. And you’ve regretted it in the past. But try it a little more anyway. Try sharing with different people. You might find some kindred spirits in some odd places. Some things become more, greater with friends— even if they are just a cheering section. When you let the best kind of people in, into your ideas and enthusiasms and dreams, it can be more rewarding than you probably think.
Listen to your damn self. L, you are freaking right like 99% of the time. You need to pay more attention to your own damn intuition and assessment of the situation. You have GREAT intuition. How many thousands of times have you kicked yourself and thought ‘Gah! I should have listened to myself!’? Like a million. So LISTEN TO YOURSELF. YOU ARE ALWAYS RIGHT. Getting advice from other people is fine, but deep down, in your heart of hearts, you know the Truth. So wake up and take your own advice.
P.S. You think you can’t learn about business and you think you can’t learn about computers. But you can. And you should.