Letter to 17 Year Old Me

Dear Gab,

Where do I even begin? Your life is so much greater than you could ever imagine that it would be at 17. I don’t even know how to recount the numerous adventures and changes that you have gone through that have brought you some of the most precious things you will ever have. First of all, I want to remind you that it gets better. You feel so alone right now, surrounded by people who do not see the real you and would judge you if they did. You are uncomfortable in your own skin. In fact, you hate your body, but I promise that you are going to find freedom in self-love. Those “friends” that you give your heart and soul to but receive only judgment from in return, they will fade. In a few years you will discover what true friendship actually feels like and it will hold you tight. I can’t even remember how many times you have been telling yourself you will never find love. And it isn’t your fault; you hear it enough from others every day. You have begun to doubt yourself. You are doubting your beauty and you are doubting your worth. You are beautiful and worthy; you just haven’t met the man who will worship those things about you yet. So, hold on and keep believing in true love because I know you are about to give up.

Speaking of the man of your dreams, he is fantastic! He is every fairytale you have ever wished for and every prayer you’ve ever said. He loves you unconditionally and with the passion that you’ve always wanted but never believed that you really deserved. And he’s searching for you too.

Remember that high school isn’t everything and even though you are unhappy, you panic at the thought of going to college. Accept the wonderful change ahead of you because it is so much better than anything that you are leaving behind. Don’t forget to cherish these moments, though. Remember the way your heart races when you walk across the stage and win so many awards for your intelligence (and stop being embarrassed that people think you’re too smart) and savor the adrenaline rush when you step onto that volleyball court. Enjoy your time here but know that the future ahead is blindingly bright.

Please start taking care of yourself. You are going to find friends who accept you and encourage you and a man who loves you with his entire being, but until then, step away from the treadmill and stop skipping lunch. Nourish your body because it going to take you to so many wonderful places. Stop punishing yourself for not being Barbie. You deserve so much better than the hate that you give yourself. You’ll learn to love and nourish your body, but start taking steps now.

Finally, never say yes to anything that you do not deserve. Stop saying yes to the judgmental friendships, or the silent treatments, or the feelings of unworthiness. You deserve more and I promise you will find it. There is so much more that I wish I could say, but I want you to experience all of the love and laughter along the way. Stay strong. I promise you’re going to make it through.

Love,
Me

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*Disclaimer: I know this is a different (more personal) post than I normally do but I think writing letters like this can be very healing. I also wanted to share some of the encouragement and lessons that I wish I had known when I was younger and perhaps inspire you to write your own letter.

5 Things to Do When You’re Feeling Sad

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Over the past year and a half, I have struggled pretty hard with mental illness and an overall constant feeling of sadness. When it first began, I was so unused to the feeling of constant sadness that I did not know what to do which led to the feelings spiraling out of control. Over the past six months I have worked my butt off stepping out of my comfort zone to seek help and find ways to keep the sadness and anxiety at bay. If you are in the same place my first and biggest piece of advice is: fake it ’til you make it! Honestly this idea always seemed ridiculous to me but it is a miracle worker. When I am sad, my mind and body tell me to stay in bed and sleep, thus shutting out the rest of the world. If I really want to start feeling better, though, I HAVE to push myself out of my comfort zone and do things I do not necessarily feel like doing at the moment. I’ve been through a lot of trial and error, but I’ve discovered that these top 5 activities truly help me turn my emotions around and regain control over my life.

  1. Go Hiking/Walking– Honestly, the main point of this tip is just getting outdoors and getting active. Nature is so beautiful and quiet, which helps center me and make me realize how small my problems are in comparison to the vastness of the world. Also, moving around gets your endorphins pumping which is a natural, automatic mood-booster. I personally love hiking, so if the weather is nice it is my all-time go-to, but even a short walk can turn my mood around.
  2. Talk to a friend– Just getting your emotions somewhere outside of yourself can be such a relief. All of that sadness and anxiety that is churning in the pit of your stomach needs an outlet, so talking to someone else can be a great relief. Even if you do not get down into the nitty-gritty of all your emotions, being with someone who makes you feel safe and you are comfortable around can save you from your thoughts and give you new perspective.
  3. Find a hobby that is medicinal– This can be one of the best parts because it can be anything that makes you happy! So experiment with everything new. For me, I try to have three different types of hobbies: one that gets me active, one that gets me creative, and one that feels indulgent so when I feel sad, I can choose which activity I feel like doing at the time. For me those three are playing frisbee, writing in a journal, and baking healthy desserts. Finding these hobbies may take time and they might push you out of your comfort zone, but open yourself up to the experience and you will have a blast experimenting.
  4. Find new surroundings– This means forcing yourself out of the comfort of your bed or your couch and just finding new scenery. Even if you just relocate to a friends house, your local cafe, or one of your favorite spots outside. Being in a new location forces you to reevaluate your surrounding and your realities. It will provide you with a fresh perspective and new realities. Either way, you’ve accomplished something today by getting out of bed and going somewhere new.
  5. Do not ignore your emotions– Let yourself feel: you cannot be on either extreme. It’s unhealthy to let yourself become consumed with negative emotions but it is also unhealthy to completely ignore or deny these emotions as well. I have done both, so I know that all of these emotions will catch up to you. For so long I wanted to be strong and independent so I ignored my emotions and pushed myself beyond my limits. Eventually, these emotions caught up to me and knocked me on my butt. So let yourself feel, acknowledge these emotions, but also strive to improve this mood as well.

I really hope that you found some comfort in my own personal tips. Remember that no matter what, you are never alone and there will always be a light at the end of the tunnel even if you aren’t seeing it right now.

Lots of love,

GT

10 Lesson I’ve Learned from 2018 so far…

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Although we are only a month into 2018, I feel like I’ve been faced with more challenges and crossroads than I could have ever expected from a new year. So, here are 10 (of the many things) I have learned so far in 2018!

  1. Doing your work in a coffee shop increases motivation x100– I do not know what it is about sitting down at a local coffee shop with a warm drink and your laptop, but I have found it to be incredibly calming and motivational. I am the biggest procrastinator if I am left in my apartment to work because I will find one hundred reasons to keep putting it off. The second I step into the coffee shop though, I am ready to kick some butt (and the coffee certainly doesn’t hurt!).
  2. Find your tribe and love them HARD!– I know that we hear phrases like this all of the time and, until this year, I always brushed them aside as silly sayings. However, this year I have already had to lean on friends much more than I ever have and it has made me realize how absolutely essential it is to surround yourself with people who genuinely love and care for you. Whether it is repeatedly telling you positive things about yourself that you would never admit or joining you for lunch when you are having a bad day or even sending you funny memes throughout the day, true friendships are so priceless.
  3. It’s okay to step back from people who are draining you (even if they are family)– If someone is draining you emotionally or mentally with their presence or even the thought of interacting with them, it is completely okay to take a step back to take care of yourself even if they are family! No matter who it is, no one should be a toxic drain on your emotions or positivity. Maybe they do not even realize they are doing it, but regardless, love yourself enough to put yourself first. Take a step back, recharge, and then reevaluate. Most of the time all you need is a short break and the people who love you will understand your need for space.
  4. Get into a routine– Whether you enjoy a morning routine, a night routine, or anything in between, it is important for us to have some sort of ritual throughout our day. For me, my time is the morning. It allows me to clear my head, treat myself, and prepare my mind for the rest of the day. Routines are comforting and especially during hard weeks, your routines might be what keeps you sane.
  5. Plan one thing every week that you can’t wait for– This doesn’t need to be huge or expensive, but I have found that it is so much easier to get through the week if I have something to look forward to. Whether that is a weekend trip to my favorite coffee shop, catching up with an old friend, trying a new recipe, or even just a relaxing weekend, I feel so much more motivated to kick butt during the week when I know I have a treat waiting for me at the end.
  6. Make time for creativity– Having a creative outlet is so important for my mental health and when I do not make time for it, my attitude and outlook certainly reflects it. Even if all I can do is fit in some calligraphy or reading a chapter of a book each night, I feel so much more recharged when I make creativity a priority.
  7. Chocolate is a life-force and I need it daily to survive- I’ll just leave this here
  8. Do your best even if you aren’t where you want to be yet– This applies to so many things: fitness, relationships, friendships, academics, job positions, etc. So many of us waste away our lives obsessing over getting to the next phase where we believe we will reach the ultimate state of happiness. Then when we get there, we are not absolutely happy and already on the way to wishing for the next thing. Dreams and goals are important, but it is also equally important to slow down and enjoy where you are right now.
  9. Take care of yourself if you expect to take care of anyone else– Like I touched on earlier, in order to be the best version of yourself, you sometimes need to step back and place yourself first. We all push ourselves to beyond our limits sometimes so it is important to make sure that we don’t forget about our mental and physical wellbeing along the way.
  10. Not all fresh starts are instantly happy– With all of the wonderful events happening this year, I somehow thought that 2018 would automatically be the best, happiest year of my life. However, I have already dealt with a lot of sadness and challenges that have shown me that this is not always true, but just because the beginning was rough doesn’t mean that the end won’t be heavenly.

 

I hope you all have a wonderful start to February,

GT