letter #023 | dear younger me: you don't need to have it all figured out.

you don't need to have it all figured out.

Letter #023

October 28, 2023

dear younger me,

Most elements of writing these letters I really like. I like the ideation process—getting to take long walks to come up with what I’m going to write about. I like going through the snapshots of my past week to select pictures for the glimmer gallery. I like the feeling of knowing when a letter is finished. And I especially like the conversations I get to have with the dear younger me family, post-share.

But one thing I’m not too fond of, that really gives me pause sometimes, is feeling like I am positioning myself or am being perceived as some sort of authority figure, “expert”, or as though I have it all figured out. I feel like I have almost nothing figured out and even when I feel like I’ve finally “got something down” in one area, sure and soon enough, a new perspective or way of thinking enters my orbit and finds a way to challenge and upend my previous understanding.

When I was a kid, I carried this idea with me that once someone “becomes an adult,” answers would just be bestowed upon them. Now nearly 10 years into this chapter of “adulting,” I can assure you, that has not been the case.

I am absolutely still trying to figure out what seems like every aspect of my life and who I am. And today, I want to share some things I’m still learning and coming to terms with.

in today's letter, we'll explore:

  • the fact that none of us have it all figured out.
  • ten questions i'm still figuring out and creating my answers for. questions like:
  • (1) What does it mean to be a good person to talk to? (2) How do I make others feel safe enough to talk with me about things that pain them? (3) What does it mean to become religious? (4) What if I’m wrong? (5) How do I become okay with being disliked? (6) How do I like myself more? Accept and give love to every part of who I am? (7) Am I strong enough to make it on my own? (8) How do you deal with pain in a healthy way? (9) What is a good life for me?
  • what a good day looks like for me
  • (10) How do I be okay with not knowing what comes next?
  • this week's ✨ glimmer gallery

1. What does it mean to be a good person to talk to?

Sometimes during conversations, I get really excited and cut people off to interject with what I want to say. Now that I’ve recognized this, I am learning how to change that. How to slow down. How to listen for understanding, and not solely for responding. Two ears, one mouth...

2. How do I make others feel safe enough to talk with me about things that pain them?

Specifically, the people I’m closest to. It astonishes me sometimes how often we can talk to someone, yet feel like they barely know anything about us because of how infrequently we go below the surface of things. After the unexpected tragic loss of my best friend, this is something I think about a lot more. How did I know someone so well but not know the magnitude of their daily suffering? And how can I foster spaces that help others feel safe enough to share those experiences going forward?

3. What does it mean to become religious?

Can independent, critical thought and religious tradition coexist? What will it be like as someone who will remain an LGBTQ+ advocate within a group that largely opposes the queer community? Often, when I'm in Christian circles now, I hear people say things like, “It’s not about the religion or 'being religious.' It’s about having a relationship with God.” And that’s all good and well, but I think in some ways, it’s a way for people to try to distance themselves from the vitriol that Christianity has faced in recent years. To be Christian is to be religious, so I find it odd when people try to spin it like it’s not. To be honest, I think the best way to change people's minds about how a nonreligious person views Christians lies in our everyday behavior and treatment of others.

4. What if I'm wrong?

For those of you who knew me in college, you may remember I went through a period of being vegan. And yes, I was one of those vegans. Posting slaughterhouse videos on social media, giving public talks about the harms of animal products, introducing myself as a vegan shortly after I told someone my name. And today, I eat meat again. When I first stopped being vegan, I don’t know if it was more the feeling of an ethical/moral battle or reconciling with the fact that something I was so sure of was right and for me…actually wasn’t for me, and dealing with the blow to my ego that that created. It's interesting...

5. How do I become okay with being disliked?

When I was young, someone very close to me told me that the only reason people liked me and spoke highly of me was because they didn’t know me well enough yet. Once others got to know me better, they would feel the same way that this person felt about me. It was one of those comments that kind of just…stay with you, and I’ve struggled over the last several years with not attaching that rationale to each time I’ve experienced a departing of someone from my life, for any reason, even if I initiated it.

6. How do I like myself more? Accept and give love to every part of who I am?

It has become more and more apparent to me over the last several weeks and months, that despite my accomplishments, despite my progress, I still don’t like myself a whole lot. It’s so easy for me to look at all the ways I feel like I fall short and keep my focus there, no matter how much positive feedback I receive from others and even in the ways I notice my progress myself. I think the difficulty I have with accepting and loving every part of myself extends to the way I am able to show up for others, and that *really* bothers me, so it’s something I’m trying to learn.

7. Am I strong enough to make it on my own?

When I lost my best friend 2.5 years ago, I wasn’t sure how I’d make it out of that year. His death was the first loss I experienced of someone I was deeply close and connected with and it was so devastating and disorienting, it was hard for me to wrap my head around how I’d ever be able to get through something like that again. But it presented an uncomfortable truth of life: even people you love die. I think about those closest to me and it scares me sometimes to imagine the inevitable day when they’re no longer here with me in physical form.

8. How do you deal with pain in a healthy way?

I saw a J. Cole quote this week that said, “What determines if we’re healthy or not comes down to our ability to process and deal with pain.” I wonder, if it’s an inescapable part of our existence, and we all experience it, why is it so hard to face? Why is it so much easier to bury or mask that pain within a vice? It can feel excruciating sometimes to confront what hurts emotionally, but slowly, slowly, I am becoming more comfortable with sitting with emotional discomfort. I think that’s a good thing. :)

9. What is a good life for me?

As an entrepreneur, there is no “corporate ladder” for me to climb, but trust me, there is a whole host of ways people try to compare and measure your success as a business owner. It gets so exhausting trying to play that game, but it takes conscious effort to not get caught up in it. I guess to arrive at the idea of what a good life is, we first need to explore what a good day would look like, since in the end, the days are what make up our life.

9a. hey amahni, define a good day.

9a. A good day for me would look something like this:

I wake up when the sun begins peeking through my window. I sit up. Streeeetch. Stand up. Make my bed. Notice the budding new leaf on one of my plants. Smile at its growth. Sip some room-temperature water. Go outside. The air is still cool and fresh. It feels crisp, but refreshingly so; it’s not sharp.

I head to the gym. Use my affirmations to get through the tough reps. I finish my workout. I smile to myself, remembering the days when I wasn’t this mentally, physically, or spiritually strong. I leave workout notes for my coach. Wipe down my equipment. Drink some water, and go back outside for a walk. A few minutes in, I call my grandfather, one of the very few people I can talk to daily without ever running out of things to talk about. I feel the sun’s warmth kissing my face and arms. I pass other people walking and exchange smiling “good morning’s.” I smile, remembering the days when those “good mornings” would be what got me through the day. I see butterflies on my walk, something I’ve come to associate with my best friend after he passed. When I see them, I feel him.

I make it home. I cook and eat my “Breakfast of Champions.” It’s delicious as always. I clean the dishes. Turn on music and dance my way to the shower.

I put on my favorite sweater and joggers after, sit down, and FaceTime my dad. We talk and laugh hard at each other’s jokes. We end the call with a sincere “I love you” and I begin my work. No phone and no notifications, I dive into meaningful work for a couple hours. After a few hours, I pause. Eat some pretzels. Drink some water and refill my teacup.

I send a few texts to people I care about and smile reading their replies. Someone texts me a link with the message, “this made me think of you.” I open it and smile. I have lunch. Also delicious. I take a brief nap. Wake up. Have more water. Get ready for my sessions. Work with the best kids and families I could have ever asked for. I see my students' progress. It makes me feel happy and effective. They see their progress. It gives me purpose.

I eat a good dinner. Call someone I love. Light some frankincense and myrrh incense. Start winding down with a good book. Write in my gratitude journal. Read a few pages of God’s Word. I get ready for bed. Plug in all my devices. Take my meds. Realize I’ve had a good day. I reflect on what made it so: I was present today. I have laughed today. I have felt peace and love and purpose and kindness and safety all in the same day. I put my bonnet on and toss back my comforter. I climb into my bed and feel my whole body exhale into the sheets. I think to myself, “If this isn’t good, I don’t know what is.” I turn off my lamp, close my eyes, and fall asleep within minutes. This is a good day to me.

10. How do I be okay with not knowing what comes next?

Not in an afterlife sense (though that’s a question, too), but in a “What will tomorrow bring?” “Will I be enough for myself then?” “Will I have made a difference then?” As I get more and more used to living my life with intention and care, I become more and more aware of how the small, seemingly insignificant choices we make repeatedly, are often the ones that carry the biggest impact. I delete my social media often because it doesn’t serve me well to constantly see what others are up to. It distracts me from my truth that what is for me won’t miss me and that my path is for me and others’ paths are for them.

I want to live my life joyfully, sincerely, and intentionally, and I don’t want my life to be for naught. Nowhere in that statement did I say to myself that I want to have it all figured out. A reminder to myself of what I actually find important. It’s okay not to have it all figured out. None of us do. But maybe, as we figure some things out, it’s good to remember that the truths and beauty of life are often a whole lot simpler, and closer, than we think.

✨ the glimmer gallery. ✨

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

i'd love to hear from you:

  • Did anything resonate with you in today's letter?
  • What's something you are still figuring out?

Just write or text me a reply to let me know. It makes my day to hear from you. I read every message and do my best to get back to everyone.

Dear Reader,

Do me a favor and extend a little grace to yourself in the areas of your life you're still figuring things out. Take it one day at a time. One adjustment at a time. And have patience. Remember there's no rush. And be reminded that we're all figuring this out as we go along. When it comes to change, focus on consistency over intensity and remember it's better to be imperfectly consistent than perfectly inconsistent.

Hope you have a wonderful week. 💛

See you next Saturday.

With love and a hug,

Amahni E. Yarber


PO Box 814, Chino Hills, CA 91709
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