Never forget to breathe.
Our Letters to My Younger Self series features letters from people around the world dedicated to their younger selves. Read on for throwbacks, humour, and heartfelt advice.
This letter is written by Italian theatre director and dramaturg Greta Zaltieri to her younger self.
You write so many love letters, baby! Rest your hand for one second, this one’s for you (and don’t you dare rolling your eyes at me!).
First of all, I want to tell you that I see you. I see you and everything you’re desperately trying to break free from; every day it’s a little harder, and every night you sleep a little less. You feel like you’re wasting away and that there’s no cure, that your unhappiness is caused by something you’ve not yet understood about living and never will; this is not true.
The weight crushing you shouldn’t be on your shoulders, and the responsibility you feel towards yourself, others, the world, will soften in time. You’ll start to feel lighter. You’ll smile more, and not just because you need to hide behind a bubbly exterior. You’ll get to know quiet, and happiness, and most importantly you’ll get to know yourself.
You’ve been hiding and will continue to for some years. You’re not stopping even for a second to ask yourself what you like or want – you just want to stay afloat, and I don’t blame you. Let me just tell you something: you are enough. Love yourself for who you are, because the people who truly love you will stick around even if you don’t try so hard to please them all the time.
If you are satisfied with who you are, that sense of self-fulfilment will never abandon you; it will also make the right people gravitate around you. I know you are terrified of failing who you love, but I promise that you won’t lose anyone who’s not worth losing.
Everything’s super confusing at the moment – you’re changing inside and out, you’re starting to want things; and mostly things you can’t have, you mistress of self-sabotage! You have a universe inside that seems too freaky and abstract to be shared. You always feel excluded – the loner, the outcast, the adult in a world of immature teenagers and the child in a society of sophisticated grownups.
You try to make sense of things by categorising them, but none of the labels you are attaching to yourself feel right – that’s because you can’t be reduced to a term, even if you’d love to be able to encompass in rich, deep language everything that you are. All the effort you’re putting in trying is only bringing you down, so let me break some of it down for you.
You sing, but you’re not a singer; you are intelligent, but you’re not a know-it-all; you understand others’ emotions and needs, but you’re no one’s provider.
You’re not your body weight, even though it hurts you so much to look like you do; you’re not your grades, even though you’ve been taught that your value is directly proportional to theirs.
What your family and friends think about you is important, but not remotely as important as what you think about yourself. Learn to let go. Think about yourself, it’s okay to be selfish every once in a while.
Acknowledge which steps are yours to take, and try to understand which battles are worth fighting. Not everything must be on your shoulders.
You don’t always have to act as someone beyond their years: allow yourself to enjoy your youth a bit more, or at least try.
Be kind with yourself; you’re not a monster, and you’re not half as morally corrupt, ugly, boring, or fat as you think you are.
All things considered, what’s waiting for you is pretty special. You’ll see how special little
things can be, too. You’re not going to love yourself everyday; actually, you’ll still feel like shit quite a lot (sorry babe) – but you will respect yourself. Now, you shame and condemn your every move; in 15 years’ time, you won’t fucking dare to do it as much.
Hold on, value your thoughts and feelings (spoiler alert: they are VALID! Crazy, right?), and never forget to breathe.
Love from a future Greta – just a bit older, a bit wiser, and who cares for you more (but who still knows all the Rocky Horror Picture Show soundtrack by heart because, c’mon, it’s awesome).