Tuesday, October 25, 2011

"Dear Me at 30"

Five years ago my friend Candace and I came up with the idea that we should write letters to ourselves at random moments in the years leading up to our thirtieth birthdays. Call it self-help, call it therapy, call it nuts. Whatever you want to call it, we did it, or at least I did, and I ended up writing myself several letters at various points throughout that time span. As I battle a head cold tonight, unable to sleep, the memory of them returned to me. So I find it only appropriate that I return to blogging by divulging bits of what I learned about myself...and about life in general.

"When I think back to my childhood, I'm reminded of a little girl with brown curly hair and big brown eyes who didn't know how not to portray the emotions she was experiencing at any given moment. She possessed an undying ambition to ham it up at every opportunity and utilize her wise-cracking mouth. (Pause) I guess I haven't changed much...but, to some degree, I've evolved." - 4/8/06

They say you can't get anywhere if you don't know where you came from and my first step toward growing up may have been coming to the realization that I'm not that much different than I was when I was five. And the second step: being okay with that. Being okay with who you are. I can't say I've fully grasped the second step yet, but I'm learning to...

"I worry that my talents will not get their chance to come to fruition." 

That line is from the same letter. Firstly, why am I using words like fruition when I'm writing a letter to myself? Secondly, this was a worry that would trouble me desperately for the next four years. But it was this same worry that would propel me to bust my ass on weekends and create web content without a budget and hope that at some point it would all mean something to my future. Which leads me to a telling moment from another letter...

"I think the main reason I've never actively pursued my creative side is a fear of rejection. I hold my writing so close to my heart that if I'm told it sucks I may abandon it forever." -7/17/08

I was on the verge of completing my first web series, Linked, and feeling incredible pressure for it to be successful, not for just myself but for all those who had dedicated their free time to make it happen. I remember reaching a do or die point where I had to finalize the second half of the series, 40-50 pages of script, within a two day span. I sat on the porch of my family's beach house in North Carolina and was shaking from the pressure and fear that I couldn't finish the project. And then I told myself "Stop worrying about what you can't do and just DO." And after that...I wrote...and wrote...and I finished it. I look back now and know that I could have made the series even better had I had an actual budget, but I did what I could... and what I could turned into a project that made the series a finalist in a nationwide competition. But more so than that, it alleviated a bit of my fear. To say I am fearless now would mean that I have learned nothing at all. Fear drives me, without it I would be complacent.

"My life has changed so rapidly in the last few weeks that I can't seem to make sense of anything. I'm stuck on a ride that spins uncontrollably with a broken brake and I have no idea where I will land." -8/1/10

This was the beginning of a new chapter in my life...Scratch that.  This was the beginning of a whole new book! The year I spent as a twenty-nine year old (and the few months leading into it) would prove to be the most eventful (sad, happy, life-altering) year of my life... Or at least to date. I would spend the full year without a strongly significant other in my life, something I hadn't done since...since...Crap, was I ever single before this?? Simultaneously, I would attend four weddings of very close friends, then have several friends also give birth to children and through it all have my mother giving up on me and fearing she would never have her own grandchildren. She means well though, and when she found the cutest puppy in the world to call her own, she stopped beating me with the pressure of being the only child and continuing our family lineage. So with that off my plate, I relaxed and started to learn the difference between alone and lonely. And I was okay.

And in the midst of that biological and emotional chaos, I made a career change and left my stable and secure job in the corporate world for the ever-changing, never 100% stable, always energy-draining life that is the television business. Within one TV season, I learned and propelled to heights I'll admit I hadn't thought I could handle. And when that first chaotic season was behind me I stopped to reflect on it and realized that for the first time, I had to give myself some kind of credit. I may not be the best, but I'm good at this. And I can be better, and I will be, and then I'll try to be even better than that. I'll keep learning from others, their fortunes and their mistakes. And I will be grateful for having known them all.  

As if I could pack anything else into my 29th year, I took two amazing trips; one to my family's homeland of Puerto Rico and one across the Atlantic to Europe. In PR I learned that what is usually familiar can become something wondrous when you're the one in charge of showing others what you know. And in Europe, as I made the journey on my own, I learned friendships aren't hard to come by when you're stuck on a bus with fifty people or viewing some of the most amazing sights our world has to offer us. And from both I learned that the places I've been are only the first steps towards where I will go in this lifetime.

So, as I sit here, writing all this and wondering how I should end it, I realize that there is no end...just more of life to look forward to.

"Dear Me at 40...I hope you are still learning. I hope you are not fully satisfied so that you keep striving to make a difference in your own life and that of others. I hope there is still some fear in you so that you will push yourself to reach greater heights. I hope that you have evolved... but I'll he happy to know that, deep down, you are still that little girl you first wrote about when you were 25..."