To be quite honest, I absolutely despise writing to my future self or my past self. The reason doesn’t necessarily confer about the fact that it’s cliche, but that everything happens for a reason. Every struggle and amount of suffering I endure serves as a learning curve, or possibly a funny story to further add to the resume of my legacy. I don’t want to view my previous actions, words, and beliefs as mistakes, but swishes that have led me to who I am today.
Having said that, I still have many, many regrets. After all, according to Mark Manson’s The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck: a Counterintuitive Approach to Living a Good Life, I am no special human being. Really, no one is. You shouldn’t over-analyze every single action and statement that escapes your mouth, which leads to my first pointer that I wish my younger self truly understood. In many ways, I still have to check upon myself to avoid over-thinking every minute aspect of my life. Truth of a matter is…dear younger self: the less you aim to see, the more clarity and sensibility you recognize.
Firstly, yes, those who taunted you and gossiped about you back in middle school all deserved the middle finger. It’s very reasonable for you to spend nearly six years mending your past, healing yourself from the pain, and allowing yourself to hold a grudge for so long. That being said, I think you misinterpreted the definition of forgiveness. The whole purpose of forgiving someone isn’t to downplay their actions. It is to acknowledge that the person is human, completely imperfect and fluid of any curve ball that flies their way, and is capable of learning from their mistakes. At the end of the day, it also liberates you from the resentment of the situation.
Second of all, nobody cares about how much you weigh. I am pretty sure not one person eyed you once, even twice, and tried to quantify how many pounds hung on your body. Yeah, people might only do it to describe a missing person or to possibly estimate how much someone has gained or lost. If you judge yourself based on what the scale calculates when you step foot, there’s no reason for you to not do the same with others, no matter how many times you’d want to admit to the opposite. The energy you vibe onto others ultimately swerves back to its source. While those around you admired you for your dedication and willpower, there was still such a thick barrier from your actions versus the actions of others that you were only revered from afar. Ultimately, it’s because you transformed into someone ridiculously unattainable.
But let’s also talk about practical manners. You can absolutely indulge in your favorite “non-diet-friendly” meals…just in reasonable amounts. I am sure that three orders of spicy crunchy tuna rolls for lunch or seven bowls of granola for breakfast definitely are responsible for undoing the progress you made. On the other hand, it was still just as illogical to cut all your old beloveds nearly cold turkey and turn to a diet of spinach egg-white omelets, kale salads, and baked chicken with broccoli. Thank goodness you never sought to become a bikini competitor. No sweet potatoes for two weeks?! How could I possibly deal?!
ANYWAYS. You also don’t have to allot one entire day to gorge on literally all the food in sight. Never thought I would say this, but attempting to annihilate a dozen donuts in one sitting was not the best decision. Seriously, bless the fact that you have never experienced the same physiological pain ever again–hopefully you keep it that way for the rest of your life. It’s totally fine to feel a bit sugar-high or the slightest bit water-drunk (yes, it’s called mild water intoxication), but never feel obliged to suck up too much physical pain to prove a point. One or two slices of chocolate cake or pizza suffices as the perfect treat. Whether or not a daily indulgence is physically necessary is up for debate, but mentally and emotionally fundamental for you? YES.
Excessive physical exertion also concerns your fitness routine. Remember how you spent one hour jogging to the gym, allocated another hour on the Spin bike in the gym, and killed one last hour jogging back home? HOW. DID. YOU. SURVIVE. Sorry to be so in your face, girl, but really. Three hours of cardio with a third of the amount of carbohydrates and fats you consume now. It’s mind-boggling how you did not severely injure your legs, lower back, or ankles from all that running and stationary biking. Remember: quality over quantity. Sixty, forty-five, thirty, even just twenty minutes of exerting 80-100% of your energy can make a world of a difference than more than three hours of mildly steady-state cardio. I am so thrilled that you eventually found HIIT and weight training to bounce towards your current fitness level. You’re a mother-effing bad-ass now and I cannot wait to see you hit new PRs to come.
Lastly, I know that none of this will be diet or fitness-related, but everything here is completely significant and related to the advice above: every day of your life is a blank canvas with a different palette. Fearing the uncertainty is fine. Facing it is necessary. I truly understand what it’s like to wake up in the morning absolutely frightened of how much you’ll weigh, the quality of your workout, the grade on your last exam, where your family will take you on the weekend trip, whether you’ll get into a car accident, and hell, even if your soulmate actually exists (I’m dead serious on this one. I was single for twenty years. My twenty-first birthday is approximately two months away). However, you have to utilize the resources at your disposal to react accordingly. Work hard, stay positive, think realistically, and be expressive.
With all the harshness aside, I absolutely love you. I express my attitude and my regrets because I truly do care about your well-being. It agonized me to hear you mutter “I hate myself” and “I’m so stupid” every single day in private. Life is unfair and unpredictable. Thus, it fulfills you in the sense that it enables you to develop the most wise, complex, and experienced character possible, otherwise the best version of yourself. Moments of suffering enforce you to act mindfully and instances of success initiate you to celebrate, but also ask what else you can accomplish next.
So, thirteen year-old Cassie, seventeen year-old Cassie, nineteen year-old Cassie–hell, even last week’s Cassie. I know that you all are figments of my past, but you all are a part of me. You all have contributed to who I am today and I can never fully articulate how grateful I am of each and every one of you. I truly hope that you all have gained some value and perspective from this letter. Despite the fact that you’re under-aged, I present a toast of non-alcoholic Gingerade kombucha to the most hardworking, ambitious, driven, open-minded, and dorkily bubbly woman I know. A woman who prefers sneakers over stilettos, ponytails over perms, YouTube over television, and admittedly, enjoying chocolate cake and peanut butter over broccoli and rice (yeah yeah, I’m a bad fitness influencer, whatever). You deserve nothing but the best for you.
What advice would you give to your past self?