letter #027 | dear younger me: how long? as long.

how long? as long.

Letter #027

June 16, 2024

dear younger me,

This letter’s going to take on somewhat of a different form than usual. Or at least that’s what it feels like as I start this one—perhaps you can let me know after?

Oftentimes, when I set out to write these letters, I feel: inspired, and positive, hopeful, and sometimes, even excited and upbeat.

But honestly, I don’t really feel most of that circulating within me right now…maybe hope, but that’s it.

And I don’t think that’s necessarily a bad thing.

I think sometimes I will sort of, require myself to immediately extract something positive out of all my experiences like, right away.

While I do believe wisdom can be drawn from most, if not all experiences, I do find it unrealistic and even unhelpful, to set an expectation or demand for myself that the journey from finding the beauty in a hard experience needs to be immediate or even happen at all.

Sometimes shit’s just gonna suck and be hard right now and that’s just it. Like, it’s hard and it doesn’t feel good and I don’t like it and that’s it.

It doesn’t always have to go a lot deeper than that, and it honestly feels like a breakthrough to even realize that.

Come walk with me?

on perfect timing, perfectionism, and still showing up.

When I opened this letter by saying it’s not gonna be like a usual one, I meant:

  1. I’m not in a necessarily cheerful and inspired mood when coming to sit down and write to you today and
  2. I really don’t even want to be writing a letter today and especially not right at this moment.

So why am I here?

In short, I’m here because:

  1. I still want and imagine the dear younger me letters to be a weekly newsletter series but,
  2. In recent past, I have found myself too tired, too busy, too overwhelmed, just “not in the right headspace,” [insert whatever other reason here that I felt prevented me from being able], to write consistently. And like, I just really don’t have time for that shit anymore, like all the excuses.

I want to write and I want to write weekly. But I’ve really found myself constantly pushing off doing that to some arbitrary perfect date/time/headspace in the future, in what feels like an endless breath-holding for the perfect moment to arrive each week when all of these things finally line up. If I don’t “find that perfect moment,” then the letter just doesn’t happen that week at all.

And I’m really just tired of that.

I’m tired of putting off something so meaningful for me because working on it doesn’t come at the most convenient and perfect time.


It’s about to be perfect because I made time to create it that day.

I saw this image the other day that I think well-illustrated what it feels like to not want to show up unless it’s perfectly:

the hard and worthy work of birthing oneself.

To expand on this, I can easily name a couple artists and writers whose work I adore. And when I think about them, and their art, and the pieces that resonate with me, there *occasionally* is one piece that stands out above the rest as a “favorite,” per se.

But much more often, when considering what makes their expression of themselves and their inner world so special to me, it’s in considering their entire body of work as a whole. It’s in considering the trust and faith and honor they had in themselves to create the art and then in quietly remarking to myself my admiration for the courage they displayed over and over and over again in sharing their work with the world.

I am especially moved when I can see, in an artist’s or writer’s work, glimpses into the journey they took to learn themselves and carve out their own voice across the their body of work. I find that so beautiful to witness. And I want that for myself.

I want to know my voice and I want to have the courage to speak it even if my voice shakes. Even if I might be wrong now, or realize I’m wrong in the future. Even if my words don’t come out perfectly. Even if anything…I want to find my voice and use it regularly and without apology.

The messy and raw and unedited birth of watching someone come to recognize the sweet sound of their own voice, fully expressing who they are, for themselves, and not for want of a certain response from anybody else, is truly remarkable to me.

It’s worth noting that while beautiful, every birth requires effort, and messiness, and the embracing of imperfection, and pivoting for when things don’t go as planned, and the acceptance that it oftentimes will be hard to keep pushing through to fully bring your creation to life.

But something can be hard and possible and still a worthwhile pursuit all at the same time.

So, I’m here today even though it wasn’t the perfect timing, even though I don’t come with arms full of positivity and cheerfulness, and even though I don’t even fully know what I want to say today.

4 big updates 🎉

There are 4 major updates that have taken place since the last letter I wrote:

update 1: so apparently, i've been manic. 🥹

Less than a week after I sent my last letter off, I learned that I was manic. And not only did I learn that I was manic, I discovered that I had been manic at least since the end of March. Manic is sort of an abbreviated term for a manic episode, which is a distinguishing characteristic and experience of those with bipolar 1 disorder.

I might write more in detail about mania at another time. In fact, I wrote two letters recently about mania and bipolar and additions I wanted to see made to mental health conversations that made space for mental illness and the many ways that it presents.

I wrote two letters and made (what I thought was) a good ass video about it too. But I recorded the video in 4k which made it like 10 GB (lol) so I couldn’t upload it. And, I don’t remember why I didn’t post the letters. Maybe in part because I thought they weren’t “ready” or perfect enough yet. Probably also in part because I wanted to kind of quiet or even restrict myself entirely from sharing anything else with the world while I was still manic. I didn’t want to embarrass myself. I didn’t want to make a fool of myself. And I for sure didn’t want to be labeled as crazy, which I very much can feel sometimes whether in a manic episode or not.

So that’s one update: that I found out I had been manic for months. I’m still manic actually, but I am finally starting to come down from it. Mania is truly exhausting. It’s overwhelming. It can be embarrassing and just downright dangerous in a lot of ways. Sometimes people who are manic have delusions so severe, that they think they can fly, and end up jumping off a building to their death.

The sad truth is that bipolar disorder can kill you at either end of the spectrum: in mania or depression. And finding out that I was in the grips of a manic episode a few days before the anniversary of my best friend’s death, just really didn’t go over well with me. It was heartbreaking in a lot of ways.

I’ve only ever been manic 3x and every time has honestly been kind of awful. I’ve damaged relationships, done stupid shit, and each time, I’ve said and done things that I can’t take back. I don’t totally fault myself for all that takes place when I’m manic now because my mind is truly not well or operating as it normally would during those times. I’ve written at length about what mania feels look on the inside and what it looks like on the outside and I’ll probably share some of that at a later point. One, because it’s tender and vulnerable, but also because I didn’t intend to make today’s letter primarily about that.

But yeah, I had been manic for about two months before I realized it which is usually how it goes—it’ll take a couple weeks to a couple months to even realize I’m manic—and that is frustrating. Lastly, it hurt to realize that I was in the grips of my bipolar acting a fool again right around the time that my best friend had lost his life to the same shit almost 3 years ago to the day.

update 2: i shaved my head. 🧑🏽‍🦲

I shaved my head on the 3rd anniversary of my best friend’s death. It was something that I had wanted to do for years but had refrained from because other people had become so attached to my hair that I felt like I had to keep it.

They’d tell me that my afro and big hair was “my look” (Lol. What does that even mean?) That I needed to keep my hair and never “cut it too short” as an act of gratitude that I could even grow my hair out that long in the first place. (Like girl what? It just grows ‘cause it’s moisturized lol. And I can always grow it back!) I’d also hear from guys that I wouldn’t be able to attract a man with a bald head. (Lol. First of all, who said I was tryna attract a man?? 😂) If anything, that was the craziest response that I let hold me up because at the beginning and the end of the day, I’ll look good to myself and if a man can’t see that, that’s not my problem and he just ain’t ‘bout to be seeing me!!

Lol. So anyway, I cut my hair. 😅

And honestly, I love it. I chose to do it on the day of my best friend’s death because I was so moved when he had cut the locs he’d had for 7 years, as an act of liberation for himself.

Originally, I was gonna cut my hair a month before I actually did. But because I suspected that it might be an impulsive move influenced by hypomania (basically mania jr.), I decided to wait a full month before acting on it.

I thought about that cut every day over the next month. And the day that I did it, it was a profoundly beautiful and spiritual experience.

I don’t know if this usually applies to people who live on after a loved one dies, but I still feel Mitsu’s love and his spirit and energy with me sometimes, and I really felt it on that day.

I have cut all my hair off 4x in my life but this one was truly the most significant. Not only was it the one that felt most spiritually aligned, but it was also the one that made me feel the most beautiful I’ve ever felt because I had taken a very intentional step toward honoring and embracing a part of me I’ve always wanted to express.

update 3: trip + moving update 🚗

Thank you to all of you who sent congratulations and well wishes for my upcoming year-long trip across the country. As it turns out, I will still be in California for at least a year, but probably longer. I needed to cancel/postpone my trip pretty immediately after learning I was manic because those two experiences would not have mixed well at all. That hurt, too. It’s annoying still getting surprised by mania.

I have to catch myself when I start shaming myself, like, “how the hell do you not know when you’re manic after living with this shit for 7+ years?” “why does it take blowing up meaningful fucking relationships in your life to realize that?” Yes, I have a very negative and critical inner voice by default, but it’s something I’m unlearning.

I’m proud that I can even notice now when I am speaking horribly to myself and that I can replace those messages with ones that come from care and kindness and love and acceptance of myself and all that that entails. I didn’t know what that felt like for most of my life, especially growing up. But, I am learning it now and that’s what matters.

update 4: i quit my remote job.

My last update is that I resigned from the remote job I had with a fitness tech startup called trainwell (they’re hiring if y’all are interested). There are a lot of considerations that went into my decision to close out my chapter of working for that company. I really didn’t imagine that it would happen so quickly or maybe even at all. I’d been a trainwell client for 2.5 years before I started working there and I’ll still be a client. My trainer had truly changed my life and continues to be a strong pillar of support in it.

There are a lot of good things about this company, including that all positions are remote, salaried, with full benefits, unlimited sick time and PTO, with all-expenses-paid in-person retreats a few times a year.

In a lot of ways, being a part of this company did in fact live up to it being a dream job for me. But ultimately, I’ve chosen to return to pursuing my own path. The reasons I’ll share here are in wanting to prioritize my health and my work with my kids, who for me, is what I believe I was really put here to do.

If any of you are interested in applying to be a Customer Support Specialist at trainwell, a 1-on-1 virtual personal training app and service, just let me know. I’d be happy to meet with you to share more about my role and experience at trainwell.

‘how long will it take to...?’

The last thing I’ll share today is what I thought today’s entire letter would be about. It’s why I named this letter: “how long? as long.”

I wrote these notes below about 6 weeks ago in reference to when people ask how long something’s going to take.

For example:

  • How long’s it gonna take for me to get a better job?
  • To get out of debt?
  • To feel healthy again?
  • To heal from my last relationship, trauma, or my childhood?
  • To have even one healthy romantic relationship?
  • To no longer want for a beautiful relationship with someone else more than I want for a beautiful relationship with God and with myself?
  • Et cetera…

And the answer I got was the same for all these questions:

“As long.”

It will take “as long” as it needs.

The beauty in that is that once the page you’re on finally turns to the next chapter, the number of pages that came before it / the “timeline” piece of it all becomes irrelevant.

All that matters is that you’re finally there.

You’re finally on the other side.

In that new chapter.

‘as long.’

There’s a lot of journeys I’m on right now, with almost all of them being internal. Sometimes, it’ll feel really overwhelming when I think about how much time it will take, how much effort it will be, how many obstacles and setbacks I’ll have to overcome along the way, or if I’ll even make it to that “other side” at all.

These thoughts can really weigh me down and leave me feeling discouraged and I’ll sometimes find myself asking, ‘what’s the point?’

The point is that I still want to get to that other side.

Although I can’t control what every output and personal journey will look like in my life, I can still control my inputs.

As in, my efforts, my thoughts, my actions, and my intentions. I can still direct those toward the life I want to have and the person I want to be mentally, emotionally, and in every other way.

When I first thought about this concept, I was out walking. And on my walk, I started thinking about how long it was going to take me to do all of these things I was working to get, attain, and be.

It quickly started to overwhelm me.

But then, I grounded myself in my walking practice, telling myself, “left…right…left again…”

That’s where my focus should be…not on how many months or years it’ll take, not how much effort, not how many failures and obstacles and setbacks I’ll need to bounce back from and overcome along the way.

“We’re not there right now,” I told myself.

“We’re here. So I want to be here…now.”



Left again.

As my mind focused and centered on the next step in front of me, everything else began to fade into the background.



Left again.

It is still possible to get to the other side.

But when it comes to how long it will take, the answer is still the same:

As long.

✨ the glimmer gallery pause.✨

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

The glimmer gallery is still paused for this week—sorry y'all. 🥺 It'll be back in the next letter though. 🙂

i'd love to hear from you:

  • Did anything resonate with you in today's letter?
  • Have any thoughts, comments, or topics you'd like to see covered in a future letter?

Just send me an email, text, or voice note to let me know! It makes my day to hear from you and I read every message and reply (in time). 🥹

Dear Reader,

I appreciate you.

Thank you for being here and I hope you have a good week.


Amahni E. Yarber

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