By Chaviva Freedman
To the person reading this letter,
It’s about 1:30 in the morning as I start to write this. I’m sitting by myself in the Beit Midrash of Brookdale, across the hall from my dorm room, infuriated by the many things that have seemingly been going wrong in my life as of late. Here alone, I’m wondering what I could have possibly done wrong in my past that has led me to this one moment where I feel like my head is spinning and my heart is about to leap out of my chest. I also can’t forget to mention that I’m on the verge of crying from the never-ending sea of emotions raging within me.
I’m sure you’ve been in a place like this at some point in your life as well: when you feel like all the hard work you’ve put into school has gone so far out of left field you don’t know if you’ll ever see a good result. You feel out of place, you feel like it’s always you against the world–constantly. You’ve tried so hard to be a part of a group that doesn’t seem to want you in it, even if they say they do. You’ve not understood why your compassion towards others can’t be found in the people you interact with every day. That time when you feel like you can’t express yourself and be an authentic you.
If you haven’t ever felt like this, then good for you — you’re one of the lucky ones.
I read a novel recently, All That She Can See by Carrie Hope Fletcher, which had a quote that sparked a thought in my head. In the dedication, Fletcher writes: “To the voices in our heads that tell us we aren’t good enough: do be quiet.” Fletcher is absolutely right. All our lives, we struggle to figure who we are as individuals. We try out different looks with adjoining personalities, only to discover that we can’t express ourselves in the way we so desire. We try so hard to listen to what the heart wants, and yet we always seem to hear the nagging voices in our heads (which for some reason sound like societal norms) much louder, and we end up finding ourselves hurt in the process. Is this because we are conditioned to believe that our authentic selves are not worth exploring and expressing? It’s an idea that is worth pondering.
What we need to do is sit down and assess who we truly are. Does your true self want to be a doctor or an artist? Does your true self want to wear all black or wear every color of the rainbow all at once? Does your true self want to get married or be single forever? We need to evaluate our lives up until now and figure out what needs fixing. We need to figure out what we want from life and what will make ourselves happier in the future.
I’m at a point in my life where I’m starting to learn what my true self is. That little voice I hear in the back of my mind? I’m training myself to shut it down before it takes over all my thoughts and feelings. I’m beginning to see what my authentic self is — loyal, compassionate, and a fighter amongst many other things. I’m accepting that the quirks about me that might be weird to others are actually the things that make me unique. I’m trying to stand up for what I believe in without alienating my friends in the grand scheme of things. It’s a struggle, but as I am writing in my state of sadness, I know that today’s tears will bring me a stronger tomorrow.
I urge you as you read this: never lose your self-worth. Never forget where you come from. Never let someone else dictate who you truly are. God put you on this earth for a reason — for you to take all that you have been given and find a way to shine. With those beliefs, you will always find a way to love yourself once again.
Actor Ben Platt sums it up perfectly in his 2017 Tony Awards speech: “Don’t waste any time trying to be like anybody but yourself, because the things that make you strange are the things that make you powerful.”
Embrace the strange things about yourself. Enjoy your life.
With all my love,
The girl who stopped listening to the voice in her head