This amazing letter was written by Melanie Tozzi (now Hicks) and was one of the winners in a contest run by Marie Claire magazine in celebration of the publication of my second book, If I’d Known Then. The best part: Chapter Two of Melanie’s story, which you can read here.
To my younger self:
When I peer into the looking glass that illuminates you, I see a shy, quiet girl who is critically afraid. Afraid of failure, afraid of rejection, afraid of loneliness…and all these things are holding you back like an anchor holds a ship near a shoreline.
So if there is one lesson I can give to you it would be to stop letting fear keep you from living. Life will not always be easy and it will not always be kind but don’t run away for joy often lies just below the surface of uncomfortable.
The truth is all that you fear will come to pass. You will fail at times but each time will make success a little richer. You will be rejected at times but it will help refine your inner strength. You will be lonely at times but you will also experience great love. For in the end you are stronger than you think and the consequences for all that you fear are not nearly as bad as the regret of what is missed while standing on the sidelines.
Never be afraid to be who you are, flaws and all – for that is where your true beauty lies. Never let others tear you down. Be purposeful and confident even when you don’t feel like it. Have the courage to live your values and the understanding to know those values may differ from others’ and that is okay. Be good to yourself: practice self-reverence, self-discipline and self-control.
When you stumble never be ashamed, for everyone has had skinned knees at some time in their life. Get back up, smile and try again. Give love, even when it is not returned. Trust yourself and others will place their trust in you. Give of yourself and others will do the same.
So take that summer job your senior year at the Olympics instead of hanging out with your high schools friends at the beach; move 12 states away to the ivy league school you really want to attend even though you won’t know anyone; take the extra time and patience to let your mom teach you how to cook; accept that position in the new overseas office even though you’ve never owned a passport; run (don’t walk) away from people who neglect or abuse you; drive the extra hours to go fishing with your Grandpa before he is no longer here.
Through it all remember the words of Abraham Lincoln, a man who despite great success had devastating failures as well, “Always bear in mind that your own resolution to succeed is more important than any one thing.”
For life is far too short to be trapped by fear.