September 7, 2020

Dear Struggling Self: This is Why I Need You to Keep Going.


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Dear Struggling Self,

I see you.

From another place and time, further on in our story, I can look back and see you here, right now—in this liminal space.

I see how you shriveled for years within containers too small and dreamt of being free.

I see your courage that began as a tiny match flame, lighting the end of a string of dynamite. I see you grabbing all that is true in your life, as the flame danced closer to the end, and running toward freedom with these cherished truths bundled in your arms and strapped to your back.

I see you running toward a more beautiful, whole version of yourself. I see you running toward the hope of love. 

And I see you standing in a distant land, trying to catch your breath, to settle into something bigger, only to find it crumbling around you. I see you, terrified and alone and worn down. I see you struggling to breathe, to rise from bed each day, to will yourself forward when all you wanted was to rest for a while. But instead, you need to keep going

I know you thought that once you freed yourself, that liberation stripped you bare, once and for all. And you’re beginning to understand now, that liberation is the lifelong commitment of breaking out of every fragile casing that no longer contains us. Like the cicadas emerging from their shells, leaving these empty containers in piles beneath trees and bushes. 

Liberation is not only a rebirth; it’s a death—except, unlike the cicadas, this process is cyclical. We keep repeating the birth, emergence, and death cycle through the seasons, as we transform. 

What you can’t see from where you now stand is me, your Future Self, with a hand over our heart, thanking you. Cheering you. Believing in you. Because I wouldn’t be here, at this point in time or this place that you can’t yet see, had you not kept going today.

One day, you’re going to see how where you are today supports where you are further on in our story. One day, you’ll stand with tears in your eyes and mouth a soundless thanks that you did not go through the work of freeing yourself one drastic time, only to say, “Well, that’s as far as I can go after all.”

You did not light all those fires and flee your old country only to end up defeated in a new one. 

You did not jump into the unknown to flail forever in this space of transition. 

You did not fall to the ground in your attempts to fly only to remain in a heap of wings, staring up at the sky.

This is not all you are and you will not be here forever, but dear Self, I desperately need you to keep rising. Keep going. Keep believing that you can do harder things than you ever dared imagine. Keep picking up the bits of beauty wherever you are and adding them to the heap of good that is your life. 

You may not know how or when or why, but all you really need in this chapter is to know that you can. 

And because you can today, our story continues to unfold tomorrow in unexpected, defiantly hopeful, inspiring chapters of bravery. 

With all my love, as long as I have breath,

Your Future Self

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