A Letter To My 18 Year-Old Self

by Serina Gousby
18 Year-Old Me, wearing hair extensions for the first time.

Dear 18 year-old Serina,

I’m writing to you because you were the strongest version of myself, and right now I am the weakest version. I desperately need your help.

I’m currently in this battle of stress and excessive thoughts; questioning myself like, “will I ever accomplish these goals I have on my list?” “Am I a good friend?” “What does God think of me right now?” “How do I love myself and not feel selfish? Will I ever be comfortable with my body regardless of the pounds I lose?” I have all of these questions in my head everyday, and I fail to understand why I don’t have that voice in my head telling me, “Heavens Serina, just do it!” I know you had that voice, and I want you to teach me how I can think like that again.

Some people would say that you shouldn’t think of the past and just live in the moment as you head to the future. I was a complete fool to do that because every second of these last five years I was losing a piece of you. I allowed every challenge to break me inch by inch because I believed that my silence would carry me. This week I hit that breaking point where I’ve reached the bottom, and it feels breathless. I don’t sleep, I barely eat, and I just can’t stop thinking about these dreams and goals.

I admire you, beginning on the day of your birthday. You just came back from your college orientation days before, and you decided to wear your class of 2016 university shirt on your day. I remember how excited you were about starting your college journey; hoping to make a lot of friends, figuring out ways to be more outgoing, and growing your poetry. You had so much focus and determination, but of course you worried about things. What I admire about you during those worrying times is that you always brought yourself out of that negative space. You cried, prayed, and moved on. That was the process to recover yourself from every problem. 

That process worked because you went through 10+ rejections from jobs and eventually got one without giving up. You understood that there was a door out there that would open, and you did everything just to find it. I don’t know how you would’ve paid for college if you gave up on yourself.

It worked because you learned to forgive yourself for the friendships you lost. That experience taught you to be a better friend to the ones you have now. It taught you to truly let go of the unanswered questions, and find your way to live passed the guilt and mistakes.

It worked because you found your true interests in music, Black history, and poetry, the only things that kept you away from depression. Even through depression, you didn’t let it stop you from endlessly searching for your purpose.

Where is that girl today? I’m sorry that I abandoned you, and thought I could handle everything without reminding myself of the strength I used to have. You must be confused reading this because where I am today is far more incredible than where you were, but something changed in me. I’m hopeful but there are days I don’t want to leave my bed. I’m hopeful, but there are days that I let opportunities pass on by because I feel that I don’t deserve them. I don’t know if it’s because of the door that shut me out recently, that has me feeling this way, or that moment when I started to doubt my passions. I don’t know why it’s so hard for me to reach the “moving on” step in the process.

What I am sure about in my life is that I am a canvas that is worth painting, but I am still stuck on choosing the type of paint brushes. What I mean by that is I have so much hope for myself but I’m too afraid that I’ll choose the wrong direction, door, or focus for my future. If it was physically possible to talk to you face to face, I know you would tell me to stop letting my fears dictate my life, and to stop over-thinking because it’s unhealthy. I know that you would tell me that I need to keep writing and reading, and put less focus on the outside world and ideologies. There are so many things that I know you would tell me, and I hope that these reminders will bind us back together.

Thank you for being so strong, and reminding me of the many battles you won and lessons you learned at such a young age. With these memories of my 18 year-old self, I hope I can find my way back to those outstanding qualities that I need to continue growing.



P.S. Remember that time you couldn’t imagine yourself with an afro? We lit now sis.

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