Notes To My Younger Self

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Ah, childhood memories.

I enjoy looking at old pictures, notes, and artwork in a memory box that my mom gave me a couple years ago. It never fails to take me back to those days.

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The quote on the front reads, ‘Angela, Knowing yourself is the beginning of all wisdom.’

Sometimes I think about how I have changed over the years.

While I have grown up and matured, I still maintain my childlike innocence and love of laughter. I still giggle, find time to ‘play’, and make jokes. I act silly and do embarrassing things. I am a klutz and it is not uncommon for me to trip over invisible objects. I am shy, sensitive, anxious, and a bit neurotic at times. Really, I was always this way.

No matter how I felt about myself over the years, my mom always saw the good (even when I was a crazy teenager and she probably wanted to disown me!).

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I got my love for the written word from my mom.

I still have a love for fashionable workout clothes (oversized red tee and pink sneakers, anyone?), frills and lace, poetic dancing, tutus, and furry friends, much like I did when I was young…

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Pink polka dot outfits and rollerskate performances rocked my world…

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And still do…

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And my love for NEON clothing lives on (much to OSGMOM’s chagrin). You can ask my mom about the time, early 1990’s, when she bought me a neon pink and green spandex outfit at the mall and I insisted that I change into it in the mall bathroom so I could wear it immediately. And it was the only thing I wanted to wear for weeks. ;)

A love of writing, inspired by my mom.

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…and the realization that all of us deserve to find happiness in our own unique way.

While our personalities often stay the same, our thought processes, feelings, and actions tend to evolve. To grow we need to constantly challenge ourselves and find new meaning in things.

I used to be a bad friend to myself. While I was easy-going and loving by nature, for many years I did not show this to myself. Instead, I was very utilitarian and dogmatic. I treated myself as if I was in some kind of boot camp, constantly striving for perfection and often tripping up. When the goal is perfection you will find failures with everything you do. So I kept trying hoping some day to gain my acceptance.

What I learned is that I held the power all along to accept myself for who I was. Losing weight would not make me love myself just as it wouldn’t make me love my family or friends any more when their weight changed. I love them for who they are and that is exactly what I had to realize about my relationship with myself. Sometimes the things we perceive as faults or character flaws are things other people come to love about us.

Self-love is a package deal.

If I were to tell my younger self some things I have learned along the way they would be:

  • Accept the total package and not compartments: Honour and love who you are, your personality, your talent, and all your less desirable traits.
  • Repair from within: Losing weight or changing your appearance will not fix the broken relationship with yourself.
  • Get rid of the chip on your shoulder: When you perceive yourself and others as the enemy, your life becomes a battleground. Instead choose love and keep the faith despite the inevitable experiences and people that will hurt you.
  • FORGIVE. Yourself. Others. Often. Move on. Life is short.
  • Cultivate Childhood Passions: Those hobbies you loved as a kid might be clues to your future success. As a child mine were baking, outdoors/nature, health, sports, writing, animals. When I reintroduced these passions into my life I became much happier.
  • This too shall pass. With each year that I age, I am happier. if you are in a hard time, hold on. I used to think my high school days would never end (yes, I got my share of teasing!), but life gets so much better.

 

What ‘tips’ would you give to your younger self? Is your personality similar to how it was when you were a child?

You might also want to check out my previous posts on this topic: A Letter To My Former Self  & A Letter To My Current Self.

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{ 32 comments… read them below or add one }

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Carolyn July 3, 2013

If I had to re-do the last few years, I would tell myself to avoid going to a “boot-camp” style eating disorder inpatient program and instead opt for a more holistic, compassionate centre. I would also tell myself to chill out a bit– the world isn’t going to end if I gain or lose a few pounds.
Even so, I don’t regret the past. I see it as a necessary step to help me become who I am today.
By the way, I love your website, Angela!

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Angela (Oh She Glows) July 3, 2013

I love reading your thoughts. Thanks for sharing (and reading!) :)

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Jennifer@ knackfornutrition August 28, 2010

I really enjoyed reading through this post. I’m glad you have embraced your neon green phase. I had one where I only wore minnie mouse t-shirts. :)

If I could tell my younger self something it would be that everything will work out in the end. When I think back to how stressed out and worried I was during the college application and admission phase, I can’t help but smile because when it was over I was right where I needed to be.

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Lauren August 28, 2010

I loved this post so much!!! I still have a way to come in terms of letting go of perfection, forgiving myself and others and not taking EVERYTHING SO SERIOUSLY. You are so inspiring having come so far. Your Mom is an outstanding women! You are so lucky :)

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Allie August 28, 2010

i loved reading this for so many reasons. really beautiful words.

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Gena August 27, 2010

“Accept the total package” took me a while, but I came around. This is a beautiful post, Ange.

XOXO

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AGS August 27, 2010

Forgiveness.

At one very difficult point in my life, when I struggled with a terrible wrong that was done to me, a friend gave me wise counsel: You must forgive to be free. You can certainly keep that person on the hook — your hook. But then s/he will always be connected to you. It is only when you forgive and let the other “off the hook” that you will be free.

Over time, forgiving others (letting them “off the hook”) this has made me a much more gracious and compassionate person. And, yes, much freer.

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Dana August 27, 2010

Angela thank you so much for sharing your knots to your younger self.
This has helped me realize what I already know but sometimes for get because of my life.
I love you blog and think you are a great inspiration of healthy living.
Thanks for letting us in your life.

Warmest regards,
Dana

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Lessons in Life and Light August 27, 2010

Wow. Your mom seems like a super awesome lady. You’re a lucky girl, but you already know that.

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Amber K August 27, 2010

I feel like I AM my younger self. I need to learn those truths that you have put forth. I go back and forth between completely loving myself and wondering why I feel like such crud. I would never put up with a friend who treats me the way I treat me. And I would NEVER treat someone else this way. I definitely gotta start loving myself more!

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Sahar August 27, 2010

This post made me cry! Thank you for reminding us of all the things we already know deep down inside. And your mom is a lovely writer, just like you :)

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Violet August 27, 2010

Angela, you were so freakin’ cute, and in fact you still are. You are my daughters’ age and I would be about your mom’s, so seeing that photo of all of you in Florida could have been me, my two daughters and my mom. It looked and felt so familiar. (Except we took my mom to Hawaii.) And from a mom’s perspective, it breaks my heart. I miss those days when my girls were little, even though they have grown up to become beautiful young women, like you. I wish all of you well! Live and love, and enjoy each other. Time really does fly.

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Lana August 27, 2010

For some reason this almost made me cry….
I would tell my younger self to do what you are passionate about in life, don’t let others tell you what they want you to do based on their failures. If you make yourself happy everything will align. You will in return be able to make those around you happy by accomplishing what you love and making an impact in the world.

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Marta August 27, 2010

hi Angela. your mom is a genius. I wish I’d heard her advice as a young woman, but really I probably wouldn’t have listened. I was too busy hating myself to think anyone else’s opinion really mattered.

I would tell my younger self: You are worth loving right now, not if you were 10 lbs skinnier, or a million dollars richer, or prettier, or more popular, just right now, just the way you are.

Thanks for this special post. I’m defining my own happiness and success these days and I’ve never been happier. It’s so good to take a look back at how far you’ve come.

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ori August 27, 2010

I love this! Thank you.

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Jess August 27, 2010

Great post! I would tell my younger self, that no one in the real world cares how cool you were in high school. :)

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Tara August 27, 2010

Haha, Jess! So true. I’m a high school math teacher and I want to tell the kids this so bad. But they’d never listen!!

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Mary @ Fervent Foodie August 27, 2010

I love this post! It reminds me so much of my mom. She too loves to write and I have a huge stack of cards and notes she’s given me over the years. How do mom’s get to be so knowledgeable any? :)

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Michal August 27, 2010

I’ve been thinking about this a lot b/c of (a)Caitlin’s Operation Beautiful book and (b)Pema Chodron’s When Things Fall Apart… both about learning to love yourself. I’m still struggling with HOW you start and maintain that journey, but I do think that I’ve started on it.
So if I could go back in time, I’d try to teach myself not just to love myself, but to find friends who weren’t toxic and didn’t keep me in my rut. I have no idea how I would convince my younger self of this, though, since going through it is part of the process.

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Mel August 27, 2010

This may sound silly, but I have found that by forgiving others for the hurt they cause me I am able to give myself ‘credits’ to forgive myself for mistakes that I have made.

I remember the moment I realised this a couple of years ago, I was sitting in the gym changing room of all places. I had been feeling down about something I had messed up and let someone down who was relying on me, and I was also angry about someone else’s selfish actions which had cost me a lot of money. I bargained with myself that if I forgave that person and ‘let them off’ the wrong they had done, I was allowed to be forgiven for the mistake I had made. There was an enormous sense of relief that came with both forgiving the person that did me wrong and forgiving myself, and I was able to sleep soundly again for the first time in weeks.

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thefruitpersuit (Sabine) August 27, 2010

Hey Ange I hope this link will work for you (I am not sure of my FB settings for photos) but I needed to show you this. It is my tattoo, I got it almost 2 years ago and I still love it with all my heart. But the best part is, everywhere I go, people always say how much they love it and want to take photos of it to remember it. I even one time explained the whole story behind the quote (are you familiair with it?) to a man who had just been through an awful divorce with the love of his life and he said he was so grateful to have met me and have me explain the meaning of the phrase. he said he was sure it was going to help him a lot.

x sabine

ps let me know if the link doesn’t work!

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Becca August 27, 2010

The link didn’t work! :)

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sushma August 27, 2010

hey angela, tell your mom that she is simply superb and you are blessed to have her as your mother

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adina August 26, 2010

Angela, nearly all your posts and especially this one have helped me so much during and throughout one of the most challenging processes of overcoming my eating disorder! I know it’s kinda silly and odd for a complete stranger to be telling you this but your journey whether it be overcoming your own eating disorder or taking the ulimate risk of leaving your job to pursue your true passion in life is just simply amazing and so inspirational to me :)

A few little things I would tell little Adina (even though I’m only 18 hah :)

-You can never say enough ‘I love you’s’ to Mom and Dad; even though it may not be the “cool” thing to do you’ll regret all the times you missed the opportunity to.
-Don’t listen to the silly and foolish names you’re always teased and called ;none of them are true you will mature into a beautiful and most importantly kind person later in life.
-Appreciate your life and the body you’ve been given; your not laying in a hospital bed, or dying of a terminal illness so make the best of what you’ve got and treat it right because you only have one body.
-Don’t ever change who you are for anyone else, please stay true to what you believe.
-Don’t sleep with gum in your mouth! You’ve had far too many experiences trying to get it out of your hair !

Thank you so much once again :)

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Valerie August 26, 2010

I LOVE this post! I hope I can learn to love myself the same way you do. I’ve definitely always had those nagging “not-good-enough” thoughts but I’m hoping they go away with time and that I can let go one day! I love your tips. I’m going to try my best to follow them! If I could look back at my younger self, I’d encourage myself not to be so timid around certain situations. I was really outgoing as a little kid, but throughout middle and high school I lost sight of that and became kind of a shell of myself, which I’ve really broken out of since college. I would also encourage myself to keep an open mind and try new things.

Lovely lovely lovely post. :)

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Kelly August 26, 2010

Hi Angela,
I’ve been on a bit of an OSG rampage these days…checking up on new posts, reading through old ones and I’m loving it! I feel like you have so many great ideas and such a beautiful way of putting them into words. I love this post. I love that you share a little bit of your past; I love what your mom wrote for you; I love what you had to say about figuring out how to love yourself. I am on the road (I think) to beginning to loving myself. It is something I find so hard to do. I don’t remember a time when I didn’t look in a mirror and think “You need to lose weight”. If someone came and asked me if I was happy I would probably say yes…but when it comes down to it I would have to say “I wish I was smaller” “I wish I had a better job”. Reading your ideas brings home the idea that my happiness is in my own hands. It is within me and I need to learn to love myself regardless of all these negative perceptions I hold now. I just wish for a day when this happens….And I know it’s something that won’t happen overnight it just feels like sometimes that I am my own worst enemy. And the fact that it is in my hands is exactly what stops me from achieving it? I’m not sure if this makes sense. Thank you again for posting this. You are brilliant. :)

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Liz @ Tip Top Shape August 26, 2010

I have become so much more confident since I have gone to college. My advice to my younger self would be to never try to change because one day you will find people who love you for exactly who you are. They won’t expect you to change and will find your rambling stories endearing. I’d also tell her to brush her teeth before bed. Not doing that led to a pretty substantial dental bill. haha

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Michelle @ Give Me the Almond Butter August 26, 2010

This is my favorite post. I’m in college right now which is such a transition time. I’m figuring out so much of the things you listed right now.

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Cara August 26, 2010

I think I would tell my younger self to not worry so much about other people’s opinions.

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Caitlin August 26, 2010

Sleep more, worry less, don’t listen to your father

How much my life would have improved had I followed this advice. Come to think of it, how much my life would improve if I followed this advice right now!

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Paige @ Running Around Normal August 26, 2010

What a lovely post! I love the younger self pictures! Especially the roller blade one! haha :)
And your mom is an awesome poet/writer –

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Corey @ the runner's cookie August 26, 2010

Such a beautiful post, Angela! I TOTALLY agree with your suggestion to reconnect with your childhood passions. Once I stopped trying to control things like food and weight and started focusing on what brings me joy in every day life, I felt so much better about myself and, for once, at peace with myself.
I love baking, walking around the city aimlessly, running, being outside, writing, and good conversations. Seeking those out is so much more rewarding than becoming consumed by a rigid mindset that revolves around appearance.
I’m not sure it would have resonated with me at the time, but I would tell my younger self to stop fighting with myself and start being my own friend.

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