Dear 16 year old self,
There’s a few things I wish I would have known back when I was your age. I’d like to share them now. (I know you’re prone to skimming, but please read this one.)
You’re not lazy. You just don’t understand your brain yet.
Not long after starting your first big girl job, you’ll start researching how to stay focused at work.
You’ll stumble across articles about ADHD and everything will start to make sense, not only in your professional life but in your personal one as well.
You’ll learn more effective strategies–tailored to your brain–for managing your time, following through on plans, getting organized, and motivating yourself.
You’ll start feeling like you are performing closer to your potential.
You’re not ungrateful and uncaring, and you’re not doing anything wrong. You just haven’t learned about the science of anxiety and depression yet.
That unchecked anxiety of yours is dragging you into your depression. You don’t know what’s going on or what to do, but in the future you will. In college, you’ll get brave enough to seek mental health services. The knowledge you’ll gain about anxiety and depression, yourself, and practical coping mechanisms will make a huge difference in your life.
It will take hard work to build the mental muscles required to consistently use those coping mechanisms, but you will do that hard work. You will. Yes, YOU.
You’re resilient and determined, and that’s incredible. You’ll even start a blog opening up about your anxiety and depression and about what you’re learning. It will end up helping multiple people you had no idea struggled with the same things.
You’re not a horrible daughter or friend. You just don’t understand how to identify sensory overload yet.
The school day drains you. The mental drain of sitting still and trying to focus, everyone’s emotions around you, having to be “on,” taking in all the noises… it’s a lot for your brain.
Your brain doesn’t have a good information filtering system like most brains do, meaning these inputs are on full blast all day, every day.
Don’t feel bad for needing to shut yourself off in your room.
“ As you start to learn more about that ADHD thing I mentioned earlier, you’ll figure out better ways to maintain balance and to communicate your needs clearly (and without so much guilt).”
You’re not a fuck-up. You’re doing the best you can with the knowledge and skills you have.
That is commendable.
As time moves on you’ll find resources to educate yourself and build life-changing skills.
You’ll start medication for your ADHD, which will have a profound impact on your ability to function.
You’ll begin to understand the problem isn’t who you are. It’s the neurological equipment you’re dealing with–which is something that for the most part can be worked around. And working around it means you’ll be able to let your passionate, goofy, intelligent self shine.
You’re not small or weak. You’re a sensitive soul.
The world can seem overwhelming. The slightest hint of perceived rejection makes you cry, which you find super embarrassing.
“The thing is, a big part of your sensitivity is the gift of empathy.”
Through some hard lessons learned in jobs and relationships, you’ll figure out how to use this gift with boundaries.
Another big part of your sensitivity is insecurity. You rely a lot on other people to gauge how you should feel about yourself. But you don’t need to do that. They aren’t responsible for you. As you get older and wiser, master new skills, face fears and shame head on, and get to know yourself, you’ll build a confidence and a love for yourself which will make other people’s views of you far less valuable by comparison. It will be oh-so-freeing.
Hang in there. Things will get better. A lot better.
With gratitude for all you’re doing to take care of us right now,
Your 27 Year Old Self.
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