I remember the first real love letter I wrote to a boy. Not one with check boxes for yes and no if you like me, but a legit we'll-be-together-forever love letter. It was well thought out and had an impressive degree of depth (especially considering my age).
I was recently out having wine with a girlfriend and she was telling me about her experience with a life coach. The coach had given her assignments for self-reflection and real-life application, and there was one assignment in particular that caught my ear. The assignment: write a love letter to yourself sans any reference to your physical appearance.
A love letter to myself. Could I sit down and pen a letter where the words, phrases, and similes flowed as fluidly as they did in letters I wrote to and about others? One that meticulously defined the qualities and characteristics that were uniquely mine. One that celebrated me in a way that I’d only heard secondhand from family members and lovers, but not myself.
I wanted so badly to do it. And I wanted to do it well. The trepidation I felt just thinking about what I would and could write reinforced my need to do it. But I was afraid. And hesitant. Not just because of what the letter would say...but also because of what it wouldn't say.
I don’t know if it’s just the plight of being a woman, or maybe just me personally, but I can effortlessly identify good qualities in people around me in like 3.2 seconds. Sitting down and putting myself under a microscope presented a very different reality. When I think about the fabric of my being – all the collective experiences that have molded me into the woman I am today – there’s lots I can think to put into a letter.
“I love your strength and sensitivity. Your optimism and resilience. Your determination to figure shit out on your own. I love how hard you love and your desire to elevate those around you.”
Yes, I can be sensitive and determined. But there are also times when I can be unaffected and dependent. I can be strong, but I’ve also felt overwhelmed. I’m optimistic, but I also sometimes struggle with feeling defeated. And as my brain worked through the dichotomies of my nature, I wondered which were qualities that surfaced for moments in time and which were truly at the core of my being.
I wanted my love letter to reflect who I was most of the time, not just some of the time. I wanted something real and honest, not merely aspirational. And the more I wrote, the clearer it became why this was proving to be such a challenge – because we’re not just one thing all the time and we're not the same things all the time. We’re multi-dimensional, situational creatures. The things I love about myself one day can be the things I despise days later and vice versa.
Thinking back on the letters I've written over the years, I see now that I was capturing moments in time; a point of view influenced by a certain instance. And while nothing's wrong with that, I wanted this letter to be different.
My letter isn’t complete. It won't ever be complete…because I’ve decided to write a love story instead of a love letter. A love story that captures moments in time, over time. My story.
Have you ever tried writing a love letter to yourself? Write me and share how it went and what you learned.