Two girl eating a cookie

“Letters to My Younger Self” is a series focused on wisdom and self-awareness. Just as you write letters to a friend to encourage and uplift them, here is the advice we would go back and tell our younger selves.

Dear 12-year-old me,

Your classmates have just given you a label that will become a part of your how you see yourself: sensitive. You have come to grapple with the sincerity and accuracy of it because the term typically comes with a negative connotation. You remain curious and open-minded because you strongly resonate with the word. Yet, the comment leaves their mouths with a critical tone. 

They are quick to suggest “sensitive” for the letter S in your name when tasked to compose an acrostic poem. They will take every opportunity to point out that you are overwhelmed by sensations, especially knowing that you are not likely to object. I know how confusing this is and how misunderstood you feel. I know how hard you try to fit in with the other girls in your grade—to be all the things: tough, yet sweet, strong and cool. 

I know how misunderstood you feel. I know how hard you try to fit in with the other girls in your grade.

In the realm of conformity, you begin to lose a piece of yourself. I want to kindly remind you that you are worth embracing, sensitivity and all. Ten years into the future, you will exude empathy that comes with feeling all the feels deeply and thoughtfully. You will embody grace and carry a healing spirit that brings serenity to those around you. You will radiate beauty in the form that matters most—from the inside out. Most of all, you will be so proud of who you become because of your decision to view your sensitivity as a blessing. 

In a state of pandemonium, you emanate harmony as your desire for peace guides you to set the standards you yearn and deserve. Your journey has afforded you the opportunity to encounter like-minded individuals who encourage you to shine like the star you are, challenge you to find rest for yourself and declare truth over your life. These friendships last the test of time and these people become those who you get to do life with. 

I have to be completely honest, too. There will be seasons where you find yourself with unfulfilled hope and a sense of unbearable sensations. Our culture is fixated on pointing out our flaws and ways to tear us down, but it is the eternal, life-changing and unconditional love of our Creator that gives us purpose and beautiful life. Hold on and keep fighting because you are so worth it. 

And the name-calling from your classmates that affected your view of yourself? Your decision to hear those words, but intentionally say to yourself, “I do not receive the negativity,” teaches you to see yourself with adoring eyes. You no longer shrink away from others’ disapproving looks and your own untenable standards. You will nod kindly instead.

You no longer shrink away from others’ disapproving looks and your own untenable standards.

Soon, you will begin to appreciate and observe the world through a whole new lens—soft, ethereal and wondrous. You are delighted by the explosion of color from a field of marigolds, the crunch of the first bite of a Fuji apple and the melodious jazz tunes on the tram. 

You will come to see your senses as an irrefutable asset. One that broadens your vision of others, that allows you to create beauty from moments of heartbreak, grief and hurt, that allows you to experience the depth and vulnerability to love and be loved.

To my sensitive soul, you manifest strength by being irresistibly and delightfully yourself. 

Older You

What advice would you give your preteen self? Were there any lies you believed about yourself during this time?

Image via Kat Borchart, Darling Issue No. 24

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