A Letter to Myself at 18 Years Old & Link Up On the Edge #53

Recently, I was asked to participate in an initiative run by Earnest which focuses on encouraging and motivating recent high school and college graduates.  It was suggested to me that this would be a great opportunity for me to reminisce about those years of life.  It is interesting that this request came to me when it did as I am currently struggling with the concept of lost memories. I understand that memories fade with age, but it is also quite common for memories to be lost due to chemical reactions that occur in a Bipolar brain. If you are a regular follower of my blog, you know that I have a very long history with Bipolar Disorder. Although I am better than ever at this point in my life, I am currently trying to piece together my past that seems to have been lost during frequent and extensive “black out periods” that occurred during those very dark years. I have only just begun the search for my lost memories, so I will be sharing more information about that with you all at a later date. For now, I am going to attempt to write a letter to myself at 18 years old upon my graduation from high school. What a wonderful way to resurrect old memories and to commemorate my upcoming 25th High School Reunion.  So here goes…

*This is not a sponsored post.  I voluntarily agreed to participate in this initiative.  I have received no compensation in return.  All thoughts and opinions are entirely my own.

Dearest Michelle,

I am writing this letter to you 25 years in the future. I am not really certain where to begin or even how much information I want to disclose…because not knowing it all is half the fun and all of the challenge, resulting in rewards that you cannot even imagine at 18 years old.

But I will tell you this. You are about to embark on the wildest, craziest journey into the literal unknown. And it is scary. It is supposed to be. But the best way to conquer your fears is to face them head on. You are an emotional and insightful young woman. You feel things. And you feel them more deeply than others might. And because of this, emotional pain may come to you more frequently and more intensely. You will often question if this is a fault within yourself. But know this…it is not a fault. It is sort of one those curses that brings great rewards to you later.

Because you are so emotional and you wear your heart on your sleeve, your high school years were difficult. College will be no better. In fact, as you grow and learn and plant yourself more firmly in adulthood, your emotions will rule everything you do. This can be bad. But it is also very good. It is just who you are. It is how you are wired. So don’t ever try to change it.

Along the way, you will be faced with decisions. Big decisions. Small decisions. Irrelevant decisions that will ultimately have no impact on your life. And decisions that will change your life forever. You will make wrong decisions. But you will also make right decisions. You will fall on your face. Time and again. And you will doubt yourself every step of the way. You will fail. Then you will succeed. Then you will fail again. And then success will come back. And this cycle will repeat itself…for the rest of your life. Because that is just how life goes.  You will learn from your failures on the way to your successes.  And you will experience a multitude of each.

When you graduate from college, things will get even trickier. There is a path you will need to travel. It’s a long one. And it’s a dark one. And it’s scary and frustrating and seemingly endless. You will encounter things and people and thoughts on this road that will try to destroy your very soul. But there will also be people on this road who offer you glimpses of hope. You will wonder often if you will ever get to the end of it. If you will even make it out alive. When those doubts try to take control, hold on to the morsels of hope that have been given to you. Put them in your pocket and take them out when you need them. They will always be there and there will almost always be plenty. But there may be a time or two when you reach into your pocket and you can’t find anything. But I will tell you this…this is quite important, in fact…even if it is the smallest amount of hope, it will be there deep inside your pocket. Your pocket will never be empty. There will always be hope.  Rely on that.  Because that little bit of knowledge will save your life.

Eventually, you will reach the end of that long, dark road. You will be exhausted. You will be battered and bruised. You will feel hopeless and defeated. Your very essence will be shattered into a million tiny pieces. And slowly, you will begin putting them back together again. And this process will be long and daunting and terrifying and seemingly impossible. You will want to quit a million times. But you won’t quit. Because you are not a quitter. That is a quality that is so thoroughly ingrained you that even at your most exhausted, your most defeated moments, you will know to take a rest and then carry on with the mission at hand.

I know this all sounds very apocalyptic rather than encouraging. But it is just how it is. And I cannot and will not tell you to do anything differently.  I will not tell you to make different decisions.  I could, but that’s not at all realistic. And if not for anything else, you are a very realistic person who recognizes that we must take the bad with the good. We must make our own mistakes.  We must live our own lives.  It is really the only way to arrive at a place of grace and gratitude. So make your decisions however you will. Make your mistakes in the grandest way. They are best learning experiences you will have. And 25 years from now, you will have arrived at the happiest place you could have ever imagined. This place will still have its downsides and its stresses, as all places do. But overall, you will be grateful for that long, dark road because it delivered you right here…where I am…writing this to you.

Here, 25 years in the future, you will look into the mirror every day. The mirror that once told you were weak and ugly and stupid and crazy. The mirror that insisted that you would never get out alive. The mirror that showed pain and tears and heartache and more pain. You will look into that same mirror and you will see the strongest, kindest, warmest, funniest, smartest, happiest, most beautiful woman you will ever meet in your entire life. And that I can promise you.  And that makes it all worth it.

So brace yourself for the ride, take this handful of hope from me, and always know that you’ve got this.  You are strong, you are a survivor, and you deserve all the happiness that is waiting for you at the end.

Love,

Yourself at 43 years old

And since I have been MIA for the past few days, I better add in this week’s Link Up On the Edge. The #SpreadTheKindness Link Up will return next Tuesday!

Here are your favorite posts from last week.

Tina of Tina’s Pink Friday shared the cutest maritime inspired outfit in her post Maritim and A Vintage Swim OOTD. Doesn’t she look fabulous in her red stripes? Hop on over to her post to check out her accessories. Tina always has the most interesting and fun accessories!

Elizabeth of Natty Gal shared a really gorgeous little white dress in her post All White, All White, All White. Her dress ended up being more of a Bad Buy, however. She will have to save it to submit to The Bad Buy Book the next time we share bad buy dresses! (The theme for August, by the way, is Bad Buy Sandals!) Also, check out Elizabeth’s blog for a new link up party that she hosts on Fridays, Friendship Friday Link Up!


Thank you for all stopping by and linking up.  And a big congratulations to all the recent graduates out there!

Reminiscing on the edge,

Shelbee

Linking up with these Fabulous Link Ups.

*Everything I am wearing in these photos has been in my closet for quite some time.  So no direct product links are available.

Follow shelbeeontheedge@gmail.com:

I am a 40 something Army wife and stay-at-home mother of 2 boys and 2 cats named Dave and Frankie. I have a passion for helping other women feel fabulous in the midst of this crazy, beautiful life.

58 Responses

  1. Shelbee,you amaze me! The more I get to know you the more I am impressed with your amazing gift of word and down-to-earth quality. Not to mention your kindness to others. I had no idea that bipolar effected memory. My suffering was with depression, yet like you, I often feel that there are whole missing areas of my life. My letter would be to those who suffered through me but stayed anyway. Being around someone chronically depressed can’t have been fun. And like you, I took have found a much, much better life in recent years. Thank you so much for your bravery and for the support that you have shown to my blog. On a side note, I love the multi-dot look – per usual, you are both coming up with something original and killing it! Best to you.

    Elizabeth / NattyGal.com

    • Elizabeth, thank you so very much! Although I am good with words, I am finding myself at a loss of how to express how very grateful I am for your support of my blog and for sharing your story here. I wrote a blog post way back in the beginning where I addressed the people who were hurt along the way while trying to be my friends during the dark years. (You can check out that post here if you want.) The missing memories are driving me bonkers right now! So I am going on a search for them. For the time in my life, I am excited to see what I can find rather than being scared of it. I am so glad you have found your happiness as well!

      xoxo
      Shelbee

  2. What an interesting exercise, Shelbee. I truly think that’s one of the aspects I like most about being the age that I am now…I have the experiences I’ve had. And I truly can like the person I have become!!
    XOOX
    Jodie
    http://www.jtouchofstyle.com

    • Thanks so much, Jodie! It was interesting and emotional to participate in this exercise. I am glad that I did though. It made me realize how very grateful I am for my experiences and where they have brought me today!

      xoxo
      Shelbee

  3. Sounds like a dark time for you Shelbee in your teenage years. As you say you are strong, and I would imagine you know how to cope with your Bi-polar so much more now. My daughter has Bi-polar and it was at it’s worst in her teenage years. I think the unknowing of how to cope with it must be the scariest. She now has a three children, one of whom is severely Autistic. Medication helps her symptoms but she still has bad times and I admire her strength so much. Bless you for sharing your letter with us xx
    http://www.vanityandmestyle.com

    • Wow, Laurie, thank you so much for sharing your story as well. It is a terrible disorder to cope with as you can easily become your own worst enemy. I am glad that your daughter is able regulate her symptoms with medication. Medication and the process of finding the right combination just adds more frustration to the problem. So finding that right combination is a big deal. It does take a very strong willed, strong minded person to overcome mental illness. A huge part of recovery is to never be ashamed of the illness. I will keep your daughter and her family in my thoughts and prayers.

      xoxo
      Shelbee

  4. Wonderful thoughts! We all should write a letter for knowledge! Great idea! I will propose this for the high school.

  5. What I love about you is that what you write is real! It always comes from your heart. I loved this story as I love so many of your stories! I can imagine people around you love you deeply.

    Of course you like Tina s photo!! That s the Netherlands on the backdrop!😂😂😂😂

    • Nancy, thank you so much for this amazing and heart felt comment. I just got all teary-eyed reading this. It is so validating to hear that especially from a fabulous fellow blogger like yourself whom I respect so much! And I had no idea that was the Netherlands in Tina’s photos! How fun!

      xoxo
      Shelbee

  6. Amazing Shelbee. We all should do that.

    Anna
    http://www.glamadventure.com

  7. Lisa Smith

    My friend – this letter is so inspiring. I always appreciate how you share the real you – the good, the bad, the ugly and the beautiful. You are so authentic and I don’t think I know anyone else like you. I am so grateful to call you friend even though we have just recently met. You make me want to be a better person. Grateful to you and for you. Lisa 🙂

    • Wow, Lisa. You just made me cry with this beautiful comment. I promised myself when I launched this blog that I would always be honest and real…to myself and my readers. I cannot be anything if I cannot always be authentic. That is what I strive for. I am so validated when people find my honesty inspiring. So it’s comments like these and people like you who encourage me to continue doing what I do. Thank you, thank you, thank you. I am honored to call you my friend!

      xoxo
      Shelbee

  8. This post is so good! Bad decisions and mistakes help us grow and make us who we are today. I think writing a letter to your younger self helps you realize all that you’ve accomplished. Thank you for the linkup!

    Jill
    Doused In Pink

  9. What a letter, I have goosebumps. The initiative you are participating in sounds so very interesting and insightful. You are fabulous and your story will no doubt encourage and inspire others, you are the light they need to see! God bless!
    xo,
    Kellyann

    • Kellyann, thank you so very much for this beautiful comment. I totally procrastinated on this post because I just wasn’t sure how to go about it. But I am glad that I got inspired and was able to write it. I sure do hope it will be helpful to others.

      xoxo
      Shelbee

  10. That is a powerful letter. Very nice. Mine would boil down to-Don’t be a Lone Ranger and that people need people plus some other things with words that I can’t use in public. Something that I learned late in life.

    Thanks for hosting and have a very wonderful weekend.

    • Patrick, thanks so much for sharing what you would write to yourself! I like your angle. People definitely need people and that’s an important lesson for younger people, for sure! Learning it late in life is better than not learning it at all.

      xoxo
      Shelbee

  11. Oh wow – can you imagine if we were actually able to do this ? send a letter to ourselves… oh I wonder what I would tell me…
    BTW the mix of the cardi and top is superb.

    • Lorena, isn’t that a crazy concept?! You should try to a letter to your younger self. It’s very therapeutic and quite amazing. Thanks so much for stopping by and for the lovely comment!

      xoxo
      Shelbee

  12. I love reading these letters because it shows people how far that they came. It also encourages those who are in their teens that someone went to the same stuff they did.

    • Lanae, I am so glad you enjoyed this. And I completely agree with you that these letters can definitely help the younger generation. Thanks so much for stopping by!

      xoxo
      Shelbee

  13. Awww! Shelbee, I love this! I think we should all write a letter to our 18 year old selves. Thank you once again, for wearing your heart on your sleeve! You are indeed, beautiful! – Amy
    http://stylingrannymama.com/

  14. Such a sophisticated black+white look today. Love the raw, open, honest letter you wrote to yourself and girl congrats on one year of On The Edge Linkup!

    • Ada, thank you so much! This was a little raw. It made me cry a little writing it. And I never did a Link Up anniversary post because I have skipped some weeks so I am not sure when the year actually passed!

      xoxo
      Shelbee

  15. What a great post Shelbee! We all go through ups and downs, but in the end, it makes us who we are. I’m also loving the mix of polka dots, such a cute look!
    Rachael

  16. You are so very special, Shelbee. Thank you for sharing–you are so courageous.

    We should do some sort of High School reunion posts, it’s my 40th…yes. Yikes…this weekend. I didn’t go. I have never gone to one…anyway…thank you again for an interesting and thought provoking post.

  17. What a wonderful post, Michelle. You really should think about writing a book, your memoirs perhaps. I’m sure it would help others!
    Hugs
    Suzy xx
    http://www.suzyturner.com & http://www.yogadocious.com

    • Suzy, thank you so much for that! I actually just got chills reading your comment because you are the third person in three days to suggest to me that I write a book. The idea is one that has popped into my head many, many times over the years, but it is also an idea that is so daunting to me. Where does one begin? So many of my memories have disappeared. I am currently trying to reconnect with some important people from my past in an effort to reclaim the lost memories, but that alone is challenging just with life’s daily responsibilities, etc. I am sounding very defeatist, which I don’t like…that is not me…but here I am defeating myself on this idea! So any suggestions you can offer on how one begins to put their thoughts together to write a book would be greatly appreciated! Give me a little kick in the butt, if you would! Thanks so much!

      xoxo
      Shelbee

  18. Shelbee, what an interesting idea … a letter to yourself at 18. It made me think back since my 50th H.S. reunion is coming up. As I reflect back the 16 or so years that followed included 2 marriages and 2 divorces. My life was a train wreck of bad decisions, hurts and struggles. Looking back I was depressed and pretty hopeless at that point. And while the last 34 years haven’t been without struggles and pain, ups and downs, disappointments and joys, they have also been filled with hope and blessings. The difference was not because of my strength or anything else great in me, but a relationship with Jesus Christ and the changes He has brought about in my life. I thought of myself as a survivor, but I realize it was Him all along. He was there even when I didn’t recognize Him. Have a great week-end.

    • Donna, thank you so very much for sharing your story with me and for this heartfelt and sincere comment. Life really is quite the ride and it is so interesting to read about your journey, a wonderful woman 25 years further along on the journey than I. I am so glad that you found your strength and solace in your relationship with Jesus. It is a rewarding place to be, for sure.

      xoxo
      Shelbee

  19. Great post!!!
    Jaymie

  20. I have read your letter to yourself all the way through, I didn’t know you suffered from this, but I think you are a brave, beautiful person with a cool personality. I suffer from depression and it can be hard at time. I have a cousin that is just like a sister to me ,which suffers with biplor and she is the most beautiful, creative and funny soul. Thank you for sharing with us Shelbee you always write meaningful post. And love your outfit honey! 🙂 Thanks for stopping by my blog to linkup too, I felt lonely at being the only one linking up lol!

    • Trina, thank you so much for your kind words and for sharing your story. I think it is so important to talk about mental illness. There is too much shame that comes along with these illnesses and we need to change that! It takes a lot of courage and strength to overcome it, for sure!

      I have added your link up to my Fabulous Link Ups page and I will share it on social media as well!

      xoxo
      Shelbee

  21. Love this post shelbee!! The ups and downs are how we grow. Thank you for sharing this post. Loving that outfit on you!! SO cute!

  22. Oh wow courageous of you Shelly! Thanks for sharing with us! You are special!

    Edwige | http://www.hypnozglam.com

  23. Shelbee you look soo cute in this polka dot style ♥️. So cute are this shoes, too.
    Juhu readers fav :)🙃 Thank you for your warm words, my friend.
    I wish you a wonderful weekend, big hug Tina

  24. What a powerful and truthful letter! Thanks so much for sharing. Those are the toughest years of one’s life.
    Thanks for hosting..hope you’re having a wonderful weekend 🙂

  25. Love the mix of polka dots!!

  26. If only I had a letter from 43 year old me when I was 18! My life would have gone SO differently. I would have what I have now, just an easier ride there. I liked the bit you put in about the mirror.

    • Alicia, thanks so much for reading! Wouldn’t it be amazing if we could actually do this sort of time travel advice-giving thing? That part with the mirror was really difficult to write, but I am so glad I did!

      xoxo
      Shelbee

  27. Who, such a powerful post Shelbee, sounds like you have gone through some tough times. It is great to get your thoughts down on paper.

    I love polka dots and adore your outfit. Thanks for linking up to Creative Mondays.

    • Claire, thanks so much for your kind words. It was definitely a very therapeutic letter to write! And I also love polka dots and was so happy with the outcome of this outfit!

      xoxo
      Shelbee

  28. A brave and personal letter. Thanks for being so open and honest. I hope the initiative helps others. I have a family member going through depression. She made a phone call in public recently and said the doctor has her as risk of committing suicide. A passerby heard and said to another person ‘she’s attention seeking.’ I was fuming I can tell you. How ignorant.

    • Thanks so much, Anna, for you very kind words. There is still so much stigma attached to mental illness and it absolutely drives me bonkers! This is one reason why I speak so openly about my journey. It is an attempt to rid the world of such an awful of people who suffer from mental illness. It is very real and very scary. I am glad that you are supportive of your family member.

      xoxo
      Shelbee

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