letter #020 | dear younger me: read this when life feels really hard.

read this when life feels really hard.

Letter #020

October 7, 2023

dear younger me,

Two things happened this week that inspired today’s letter—

The first was that I felt myself starting to spiral and fall back into old ways that I knew no longer served me.

I started going down this path because I was sleep-deprived, stressed, and felt bored of doing the same daily habits.
The second inspiration came from receiving a letter in my inbox this week that I wrote about 2 years ago during a time when life felt really hard and uncertain.

Let’s talk about it.

in today's letter, we'll explore:

  • dear future me, for real??
  • having the self-awareness to know you're unhappy 🤝🏽 lacking the tools to change (oh look, it's me)
  • the stumble, aka falling back into old ways
  • 3 tips for when you want to improve yourself/your life, but don't know how:
    • 1. divest + invest
    • 2. don’t be ashamed to start with small changes (+ ask yourself: when has shame served me?)
    • 3. if you want to know personal fulfillment and joy, be kind to yourself.
  • this week's ✨ glimmer gallery ✨

dear future me, for real??

First, the letter:

There’s a site called futureme.org where you can write letters to yourself and/or someone else, input the recipient’s email address, and then schedule the letter to be delivered via email days to years in the future.

This particular letter was from January 2022. As I read through it yesterday, I noticed parallels between things I struggled with from then to now, but I also realized how far I’ve truly come in 2 years, despite the struggles and times I felt like I wasn’t making any progress.

To paint a brief picture of where I was about 2 years ago, I was nearing (but resisting) the close of an unhealthy relationship that had long since run its course for both people involved.

At the time I wrote this letter, I was also just a few weeks in to working with my trainer and wasn’t even aware of the harmful fatphobic beliefs and years of body dysmorphia I had, let alone how much they were affecting me.

I was still in school while trying to run my businesses, which was *super intense.* And I wasn’t yet at the place where I had the courage or confidence to establish professional boundaries, so work was completely running my life.

Things were kind of a mess, but I think younger me 🥹 will tell it best:

I had the self-awareness to understand that I wasn’t in a good place, but lacked the tools to move out of it:

note: Normally, I would edit out the swearing but because they’re direct quotes, I’m going to leave them.

I continued on to try to put names to the emotions I was experiencing:

Interestingly, I was walking through green pastures with R&B playing in my ears early today while preparing the message for this letter. So it’s nice to see how that piece has come into reality.

But anyway, this week, I had similar struggles to this version of myself from nearly two years ago.

I was extremely tired, stressed, irritated, and lost the energy to respond critically when I’d ask myself, “What’s the point of these habits anyway?” I also started noticing that I really didn’t like the way I would speak to myself about feeling this tired (again) and how I was responding to myself for not making the best choices or wanting to honor my commitments.

the stumble, aka falling back on old ways.

I started to backslide into old ways that I knew no longer served me.

This included bingeing on fast food (which I had all but given up), complaining a lot more, starting to let my daily disciplines and self-care practices lapse, and falling back into other unhealthy coping behaviors like, endless social media scrolling.

Why was this happening? Well, for one, the emotional discomfort I’d experienced recently coupled with the many times I felt stretched beyond my comfort zone were getting really overwhelming. I’d wanted to push pause on these “growth opportunities” multiple times.

Another reason was that I was just getting tired. Sometimes doing what I know is best for myself is honestly…boring. Eat healthy food…drink water…clean the house…homework…study…daily gratitude + Bible study…wash, rinse, repeat? I felt kind of tired of it, to be honest. And almost like I had given up a "more interesting" life in favor of a "boring" one. ( 🤦🏽‍♀️)

Fortunately, that feeling was short-lived because I quickly realized that indulging in the habits from my former life that I knew were not good for me anymore actually *wasn't* more interesting and the pleasure was fleeting, not fulfilling.

3 tips for when you want to improve yourself/your life, but don't know how:

What helped turn my week around was the check-in call I had with my coach in which I told him how tired I was feeling and how I felt like I was spiraling. Though I was pretty much looking for sympathy from him in return (editor’s note: that I did not get), my trainer instead told me what I needed to hear and not what I wanted to hear.

So, today’s letter is in appreciation of that conversation and dedicated to the version of myself who desperately wanted to improve her situation, but just didn’t know how.

Here are 3 things I would tell that younger me:

1. divest + invest.

This was something that my coach told me this week when we had our check-in call. He advised me to divest—to rid myself of unnecessary habits and commitments—and to invest my time in the things that strengthened my body, mind, and soul.

Some things I divested from this week were fast food, Instagram (back to deactivated mode 🥹), and unnecessary meetings (that could’ve been an email—we’ve all been there).

Things I invested more in included signing up for a hiking group at my church (yes to community ✓), ensuring I completed all my scheduled workouts and daily walks for the week, and cleaning and decluttering small corners of my house each day.

I used to really think that in order to change my life, I had to change it all at once or exert some gargantuan effort and then keep up with it. But I know now that neither is necessary.

2. don’t be ashamed to start with small changes (+ ask yourself: when has shame served me?)

Small changes made over a long enough period of time can produce the most profound transformations in your life. And I’m speaking from experience here.

I tried improving my eating habits for years(!) before I started experiencing any lasting progress. Then I finally tried doing it in a sustainable way, and that changed the game for me. But, even with being sustainable, I didn’t cut anything out or make drastic changes to my diet overnight.

I started with going from ordering two entrées, appetizers, and desserts at restaurants to one entrée, appetizers, and desserts at restaurants.

With fast food, I went from the 5pc chicken tender meal to the 3pc. Still got fries. Still got a large soft drink. That's okay. It’s where I started.

When I first started exercising, I would go on short walks around the block or down the street and back maybe 3 times a week. That’s okay. It’s where I started.

In the midst of intense depressive episodes, personal hygiene would really be a struggle for me. I lacked the energy and just didn’t care about upkeeping that or myself, really. So, during those seasons, it was a win just to shower and brush my teeth twice in a day. That’s okay. It’s where I started.

Start where you are. Don’t be ashamed of it (remember: when has shame helped you?). And just, keep putting one foot in front of the other. If you find yourself ‘tripping,’ and needing to reposition your footing multiple times, then do that. Start where you are. And take it one day at a time. That’s okay.

3. if you want to know personal fulfillment and joy, be kind to yourself.

One of my favorite text messages that I have from my late best friend Mitsu is below. In this message, Mitsu had asked how I was doing and I went off on this multi-paragraph, self-annihilating rampage about all the ways I had made poor choices recently and how I was so mad at myself for doing so. Please read his response:

One thing I noticed about the language I used when referring to myself in the letter I wrote 2 years ago (as well as in observations of my self-talk now when I’m not being conscious of it) is that it’s generally pretty harsh, negative, and unforgiving.


I learned in therapy that when I start to dive down these rabbit holes of self-beration, I should pause, and ask myself, “Whose voice is this? Mine or someone else's?”

Is this really how I feel about myself?

Or am I merely echoing words and tones I heard spoken to me many times over the years…?

Although my self-talk is not yet “ideal” at this point in my life, it is for dang sure, a lot more supportive, nurturing, and grace-giving than it ever was in the past.

I am grateful to one of my dear friends Ruby (hey Ruby! 🩷) who recently articulated this feeling I’ve had so well.

We were reflecting on one of our past meetings together and Ruby commented on how different my life, perspective, and energy was back then. Ruby said it seemed like I had been “just on the cusp” of a breakthrough, and I agreed. I felt like I had rounded a corner I’d felt stuck behind for months, if not years.

I share this because despite the abrasive tone I used when speaking to myself on autopilot throughout the letter I wrote a few years ago, I was still able to use uplifting and supportive language when I tried. It just was not at all natural at that time. (It is more natural now, but not my default just yet.)

I ended that letter with this:

*The “Patience. Don’t be in such a hurry” part was a nod to my best friend Mitsu. It’s the only note I have in his handwriting and he wrote it in a book he gifted me when we were in college.

✨ the glimmer gallery. ✨

The glimmer gallery is a weekly collection of moments that made the good times better and the harder times bearable.

Thanks for being here. 💛

Have any thoughts about this letter? Did anything resonate with you?

Just write or text me a reply to let me know. It makes my day to hear from you and I respond to every message.

Dear Reader,

I'd love to hear how you’re doing. I hope you're well or at least, 'getting there.' If you’d like me to write more about this topic or any other particular one, just let me know and I’ll do my best to make it happen.

If you'd like some personal encouragement for the week, just reply with a few words/sentences about what and I'd be happy to send some encouraging words your way.

As always, I'm happy you're here. Let’s be kind to ourselves this week. We’re doing the best we can with what we know at the time and we don’t have to figure it out all at once. 😉

See you next Saturday.

With love,

Amahni E. Yarber


PO Box 814, Chino Hills, CA 91709
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