An Open Letter to my 11-Year-Old Self

Everyone goes through their troubles and everyone has their own demons. So this week I want to do something a little different. If I could talk to my 11-year-old self I would like to tell her the following:

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Dear me,

You are going through a lot right now but you will be okay. Starting high school was not easy; your horse got sold, your parents divorced and so many things came at you all at once. You never gave up and that quality will get you far. Your self-image has never been really positive and you have never considered yourself good enough. However, I want you to know that you are so incredibly smart and kind. You will always stand up for what is right and your intolerance towards injustice should be inspiring. This year of your life will be a defining moment and while things only seem to get worse you will only become stronger as a person.

You probably would not believe me when I tell you that you will move to the United States. Not with your family, not with friends, no you, on your own at only 15 years old. That is only four years from now. It will break your mother’s heart but she will sacrifice so much because she wants you to fulfill this dream. This experience will be another defining moment. While your time there will not only be rainbows and sunshine, you will learn so much. You start to appreciate others, the things that you have been given and the things that you will work so hard for more than you did before. You will meet many new people but also realise that running away from your problems is never the answer.

While your family ties may be rocky and at one point, after you return to the Netherlands, you seriously consider dropping out of school you keep on going. Even though you have always compared yourself to others you will have accomplished so many things when you graduate high school. You will have been part of the student council, the party committee and a literary jury. You will have edited the yearbook, written a campaign plan against female genital mutilation in Somalia and sang on stage twice while nothing scares you more. You do not let your fears hold you back, you conquer them.

What if I told you that when you start university that after your first year you decide to take on another BA because you need a bigger challenge. Your second year will be exhausting but you will pull through and pass all your courses. You will become chair of the travel abroad committee of your study association (how that works out I will find out in a few months) and while you juggle so many different things at the same time you will also manage to find time for a job. You will start a blog which scares you so much because you will have put your writing out there for all the world to see. You will love it and it will inspire and motivate you to work harder.

You are afraid of others hurting you. They will and at times it will devastate you. You will try to keep bad things from happening to you but that is just something that we cannot controle. If I could tell you one thing it would be to not focus on others. We have no controle over their behaviour or their thoughts. It is frustrating I know and at times we will never understand why people hurt us or why things happen in certain ways. Do not let those moments define you, you are so much more. Do not be afraid to take a compliment, do not doubt yourself. It is always easier to look at the negative side of things but it will bring you nowhere.

One of the bravest things you will do, is that you will ask for help. You are able to admit to yourself the mistakes that you have made and you will move beyond the negativity. Progress is slow but it beats no progress at all. It is easy for me to write all the great things that you will do but it is still hard for me to compliment me, the twenty-one-year-old me. We will get there though, we have already done and overcome so much, now is not the time to quit.

If I had to summarize what I would say to you in one sentence it would be: Do not worry about the things you cannot controle, you are in charge of your own luck and capable of so much.

Love,
Your more experienced older self

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