A Letter to my 13 year old Self

by Rebecca Baldwin, 31 years, Australia

Dear Me,

If there was one thing I could tell you when you were 13 years old it would be this – drug taking is not rebellious; it is not just ‘experimentation’; it’s not really even defiance – it’s just compliant. It is one of many things in this world that is engineered to keep you from your power and your beauty. You are not the first person to think that smoking a cigarette is cool and you won’t be the last. You are not a rebel. You are walking a well-trodden path paved by all the other bright kids and teens who thought they were breaking the rules, only to play right into them. But I know there is more to it than that. I know that your bravado is just that and I know that you miss yourself. You miss the easy way you were with yourself when you were a kid, before the onset of all this intensity. And for the time being and for many years to come, the thick smoke in your lungs will make you feel for a moment that you are full. At the top of the drag there will be a split second, a fleeting moment where you feel there is an end to the empty feelings; the vague but persistent anxiousness; and you will feel at peace. Of course, and you already know this, it is then that you have to breathe the smoke out again, and your predicament will be the same as it was before.

But rewind a few months. Your body was always telling you this would not work – when you fought your burning throat and constricted lungs to teach yourself how to ‘properly inhale’. And months later when you taught yourself to pull a bong, trained yourself in the resilience to not crumple into yourself in a corner, red-eyed and paranoid (and often failed), your body was speaking to you loudly and you silenced it with more of the same. And you could pretend that you were a rebel but in fact it was the opposite. It wasn’t rebellion so much as a wanting to fit in. But fit in to what? Whose mould didn’t you fit? And what did you have to forego in order for you to cut yourself down to comply? What courage did you let slip and what love would you have walked with, had you not become a paper-cut out of all the other lost girls?

Consider that perhaps ‘rebellious’ is the girl in year 9 who you called ‘straight and boring’, who said no to drugs and sex-without-love without questioning that it was her right to be honoured and truly cared for; who refused to cave to the pressure of popularity and notoriety. Perhaps rebellion would have been to speak what you truly felt and allow those to fall away who inevitably would. Remember when at 16 years old you decided to quit pot, and all your smoking buddies stopped knowing how to be around you? Well, that was an act of rebellion. In a world that glorifies self-harm as a badge of defiance, loving and honouring yourself is rebellion. And the world eagerly awaits more true rebels to step up.

What would I say to my 20 year old self?

Beware of apparent ‘opposites’ and knee-jerk redirection. Rebellion is not burying your self in books and striving to write the best essay and get the best mark – that’s just another form of compliance. In fact, you may just find you do more damage to your lungs with the dusty book than with the cigarette. You may find yourself more strung out and anti-social from overdoing it with study than you did when you were sitting stoned in a corner. Don’t let yourself be duped again. No employer is ever going to ask you what grade you got on your 2nd year Media Studies mid-year assessment. Learn what you need to know but don’t abandon yourself in the process. Never forget that the greatest teacher in the world will not be found in any lecture hall or University. The greatest teacher in the world is your own body. Listen intently to it. If you actually listen to the rhythms it is asking you to honour, you will most certainly find freedom. Cut the excuses and the overriding. Your body is always asking to be loved. When it is tired and wants to go to bed, when it tells you that alcohol leaves it sick, when it tells you that to pull the all-nighter hurts and that the fleeting elation of a good mark is just that, it is sending you a message. STOP. Say no to false highs – from the highs of driven academic achievement to the highs of ‘recreational’ drugs. Know that there is no difference. But know there is a different way; know that there IS a way to be with yourself beyond the constant ‘pursuit of happiness’ and / or relief. There is a way to honour yourself and be the full you in all that you do without compromise. There is a way to know love without substituting it for good grades, because the love is already there – in you. Not in any accolade, or in any box you ticked, or in any thing that you did or will do. It’s right there already in you.

What would I say to myself today?

Together we can re-write the future that is fast unfolding to be our history. We are always the sum total of all our choices. And while the memory might become foggy, the body never forgets. The body holds the marks of every choice we ever made, it was with us for every one of them and it is still here with us today – at once a record and a crystal ball. Carrying with us all the imprints of moments past – imprints there waiting to make the next moment what it is; and these imprints are there with all people; in the sadness you can see held in a woman’s cheeks, in the way a man walks, either fluid or with the hardness he’s learnt to hold as he braces himself for the barrage of the world’s expectations. But is the next choice inevitable? Does it have to come with the loading of the past? Well no, that’s why it is called a choice.

But you can only make a choice if you know it is there to be made, otherwise you will default to the choice predetermined by the culmination of your life’s habits. You will live as you always have. So choose to be aware and to feel, deeply, everything that is there to feel, both the pain and the triumphs. And remember your body is your companion. Change your posture and you will change the world. Turn your shoulders out, it sounds simple, but lift your chin. By walking with grace in your step, you will change your mood in that moment. And it is these small moments that add up. It is these small moments of illumination that strung together make the light in your days. Don’t discount the simplicity of the smallest act or intention to love. Certainly don’t discount any act of love towards yourself.

And you will find there is a freedom to be had. It is not really a freedom born of rebellion, it is a simple act of return. A re-turn to yourself and to the body you have long ignored.

And there is a freedom in discipline, but this discipline is not harsh. It is the discipline to consistently and honestly love and honour yourself. To know that fragility is a strength that is indeed rare in this world, but need not be. There is a freedom to be had by putting a stop to the running and constantly striving. There is a freedom to be had in simplicity.

With love always,

You

P.S. Doing it hard doesn’t make you stronger or wiser, doing it hard just makes you harder, and that hardness stays with you unless you heal it.

Your past hurts aren’t an achievement, they don’t make you “the person you are today”. Your essence makes you the person you are, the unbreakable love that is at the heart of every man and woman. What most of us are reluctant to admit is that we never needed to ‘”find out the hard way”. Had we honored our essence in the first place we never would have walked the roads we knew would hurt us. When we stop saying, “I guess it was meant to be”; when we stop romanticising our hardships and conveniently wrapping them in a fog of nostalgia, only then will we have the clarity to take full stock and full responsibility for our past choices.

Only then will we realise they were indeed choices; and with that knowing we have the freedom to make new ones – true ones – for and from the love we are.

P.P.S. Dear me, it’s me again, just a reminder for you to tell Natalie Benhayon and all the other amazing young women you know today, that they constantly inspire you to see that there is (and always has been) another way.

And say hi to Serge Benhayon and thank him from me; it is his perspective that will inspire you to see that the past was not inevitable, and neither is your future. And it is also him that will help you realise that there is more to you than just a brain on legs – there is a heart always emanating and a body worth cherishing and a soul worth knowing. There is a preciousness in you that can be felt and lived and shared. 

967 thoughts on “A Letter to my 13 year old Self

  1. Looking back at my 13 year old self, I would tell her that no matter the attention she got, it was not truly loving, no matter how many of the popular boys were after her, was not because they loved her, we play a game at different ages but when we are given up & withdrawn the only thing that we can cling on is the tiniest bit of recognition to make us feel whole again – but none of that is true, it doesn’t last for longer than a few minutes & we are back where we started.

  2. So many gems in this piece – “Your past hurts aren’t an achievement, they don’t make you “the person you are today”. Your essence makes you the person you are, the unbreakable love that is at the heart of every man and woman.” When we all awaken to this fact we will be unstoppable.

  3. Beautiful to re-read this blog today. “We are always the sum total of all our choices. And while the memory might become foggy, the body never forgets.” The more we make choices that feel true for our body, the more we can wipe our our past poor choices and it shows in the body.

  4. A letter with very wise words, one that teaches us that nothing is more important than to honour who we are first and foremost. Because nothing that we do, nothing that is sold to us on the outside can bring any depth of love or feeling of contentment within us.

  5. “So choose to be aware and to feel, deeply, everything that is there to feel, both the pain and the triumphs”. I think that there are often ‘energetic triumphs’ to be had within our most painful experiences.

    1. I agree Alexis. if I hadn’t had the last really painful experience I wouldn’t have woken up to what is really going on – with me and also the world at large,

  6. “There is a way to know love without substituting it for good grades, because the love is already there – in you”. Yes it is and in quantities that are impossible to imagine.

  7. Yes, having a tidy room, being ready for the day, looking after yourself physically and emotionally, and considering the how in all of the physical and emotional looking after, brings a simplicity that forms a foundation to walk day after day.

  8. Doing it ‘the hard way’ begets an anticipation of life being hard which makes our body hard, which in turn makes it harder to trust and embrace the strength in vulnerability.

  9. This is such a classic, it should be printed and distributed to all of the schools in the world where young girls and boys can have access to this immense wisdom, access to lived experience an the importance of not complying with the crowd.

    1. Yes there is a misconception that rebels are not complying. They are, and actually stepping out from complying is incredibly hard because the only place left feels like no-mans-land.

      1. Yep, because if we are truly not complying, if we truly do not bend over and take this world on our shoulders, we are left standing up straight and our from the crowd. Everybody can see the person who’s head is sticks out, the one who is taller and standing up right. There are those who then do everything to bring them back down and kill what they see, and those who love a person who is not afraid to do so. The latter will be inspired, they will support the growth & those are the people worth standing up for.

  10. So true, ‘ There is a preciousness in you that can be felt and lived and shared.’ – To be reminded of this, to actually connect and feel this and then to be able to share this is really what it is all about. Hence it is no surprise or at least it is very interesting that we are brought up not being aware of such a precious quality within ourselves. A huge thanks to Serge Benhayon for showing what we are truly made of.

    1. Yes and I recently heard that ‘we are not born ignorant’. We are educated to be so – as society currently doesn’t value truth , nor true love. A baby knows the vibration of love – they shine it out – until we instil them not to be aware and not to feel what is really going on. We too were educated thus, until we chose to be awakened.

  11. Rebecca, what an absolute stunner of a blog. A piece of writing which is so needed and will remain relevant for a long time. So many young girls will be lucky to get their eyes on this, so many adults will be touched by the feel of it. Thank you.

  12. What a timeless blog, what i would tell my 13- year old self? I would tell her to not compete with the boys, that she doesn’t have to be the sports champion or the academic genius to get love. I would tell her that she is embarking on a journey of becoming a woman and that is the most important relationship to consider.

  13. An amazing blog and understanding of life and our choices and how we can always make a change For together we can re-write the future that is fast unfolding to be our history. We are always the sum total of all our choices. And while the memory might become foggy, the body never forgets. The real responsibility we all have in our lives is something we are not taught and so the beauty of this blog unfolds.

    1. So as a grandmother Watching young ones grow – whether they be in my own blood family or not, I have a responsibility to offer a different reflection as to how life can be lived.

  14. This blog is for the world to read, again and again – it is a timeless piece that is so, so needed in our world today. So many young women completely leave themselves behind in their sought after success. There is pure gold inside of our own bodies, something we are to reconnect to and appreciate very, very dearly. Thank you Rebecca for all that you do.

  15. Together we can re-write the future that is fast unfolding to be our history. We are always the sum total of all our choices. And while the memory might become foggy, the body never forgets. What a beautiful sharing and offering to ourselves and all young women which reflecting back is so true and needed. “To know that fragility is a strength that is indeed rare in this world, but need not be. There is a freedom to be had by putting a stop to the running and constantly striving. There is a freedom to be had in simplicity.’ Something I am still realising more and more the older i get.

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