I read a saying the other day that I loved: You have a 100% success rate for surviving everything you’ve been through.
Pretty cool when you think about it, right? So however/wherever/whenever this letter finds you, I hope you take a second to pat yourself on the freaking back for everything you’ve been through—and everything you’re currently navigating. You’re doing it, and that is absolutely something to celebrate.
Today, I’m celebrating more than normal because it’s my birthday, and another year of life is something I try very hard not to take for granted.
Getting older can be weird and confusing and nostalgic, but it’s also a privilege getting to meet new versions of myself as I age. I take comfort in knowing that every iteration of my evolving identity helps me become more in tune with, and less self-conscious about who I am—including the qualities I love and the ones I don’t.
I also like getting older because I feel like I get a little better every year (emphasis on little) at caring less about what other people think and spending more time doing the things I love, with the people I love, in environments that make me feel like my truest, most genuine self. But of course, that’s still a work-in-progress, and it’ll probably be a lifelong effort (*buckles seatbelt*).
Anyway, getting older can be cool and all, but I’d be lying if I said I didn’t miss aspects of youth (and yes, I realize the irony of a newly 28-year-old writing wistfully about youth, but whatever—it’s all relative).
This week I’m trying something new, which is sharing a free verse poem I wrote over two years ago. It reflects a lot of what I’m thinking about as I enter my 28th year: namely, honoring all the past versions (ghosts) of myself, and walking towards the future ones.
Every day I walk When I walk I see ghosts of my former self Walking, looking, searching for answers In the swaying trees, the premature blooms, The packed dirt, and the cracks of a sidewalk long forgotten. I hear birds so beautiful I want to cry And I revisit memories so haunting I wish they were lies. I visit my childhood home, and while walking the dog around the park, I see my 8-year-old ghost, and watch my ponytail rising and falling With the motion of the swings. I see my laughter, free and inhibited And my little Sketchers colorful and scuffed With my new glasses on my grinning face, I could finally see the trees! I see myself concerned with the trials of girlhood, Thinking they were so big then, If only, if only, my concerns now were that innocent. I walk up the street that held me When I moved to a new city during the pandemic. Knowing no one, at least I knew the trees. Street by street I pushed on, literally Though now I realize it was also figuratively. I went back there today, and I saw that ghost. She was wide-eyed and eager, much like I was today, But she was scared and ravenous for something different, Held back by hands belonging to people who were too scared and dishonest to ask themselves what they really wanted. I envision my current self meeting my old self on the sidewalk, Talking about the weather, my hair, and the seeds I planted That were now blossoming, free from any hands but my own. Every day I walk, and I comfort my ghosts, Knowing that hindsight is as crystal as the glassy sea I gaze at from the hill by my new home. My current self will one day be a ghost, And my future self will one day pass her on the sidewalk, Reminding her that she has so many miles left to walk. I’ll reach out my hand and bring her along, because she is important, too. Accompanied by the trees’ soft canopy, and the voices of the wind, sun, and rain, I’ll venture on, comforted by the legs that hold me in every chapter, wide-eyed and eager that I will weather every path, for better or for worse, bringing my hundreds, thousands of selves on the journey. Like an army behind me, my ghosts are resilient and mighty, and even though few people see as many versions of me as I do, I see them, I see them, and every day I walk with them.
Cheers to all your past, present, and future selves.
I’m off to have the most epic second breakfast, and while I’m wrapped around a giant mug of coffee and all the beautiful food this place has to offer, I’ll be thinking about how I am so, so grateful that you’re here at the Second Breakfast table.
Until next week (when I’ll be talking about a few of my most favorite books!),
P.S. If you’re enjoying Second Breakfast, might I suggest sharing it with a few friends?
Happy Birthday. I love that opening saying. I have been going through a lot lately and feel good about myself that I am surviving!