Saturday, June 25, 2016

A Letter to Myself

September 1, 2015

Dear Marji,

            I am writing this letter on the 25th of June 2016 with only a few days left in L.A. This is proof that you will indeed survive this year and be a better person for it. However, it will be the hardest one out of your 23 years so far. I am writing to give you advice and a few heads up for living in this complicated city. I know on this first day the sense of adventure is great! Keep that as long as you can. That Hollywood sign is still striking, and the palm trees still exotic as they sway so high in the breeze.

My advice to you for survival this year is as follows:

·         Do not be afraid. Do not be afraid of other people for how they look or where they live. Do not be afraid to question your faith or your friends. Do not be afraid to break some of the rules at work and at home.

·         Learn quickly to be your own person. Do not replace someone else’s standards of happiness or success with your own and then be sad for them. They are their own person.

·         You are not a trained social worker or mental health professional. Therefore when you are overwhelmed at work you are not a failure! Cut yourself some slack and be kind to yourself. This year is a hard one.

·         Find some Headspace and meditate. You can survive without worrying all the time.

·         Make time for exercise, reading, and nature. There is a lot of concrete here.

·         Talk to your housemates and your neighbors. You may not always have the energy after a full work day, but it’s a lot harder to live with them if you don’t know them.

·         Equally important is the fact that when your housemates or clients have serious breakdowns this year, you don’t have to fix them. You can take a step back.

·         Try as hard as you can to make friends outside of your house. Previous Dwellers or YAV alumni are preferred as they understand what you are going through this year.

·         Pay attention to your wonderful leaders in your program and at work. They will set the best examples of leadership in their optimism, praise, listening skills and equality.

·         Your money will be tight on your small stipend and covenant to simple living. Take it as a true opportunity to relate to your working class neighbors and clients experiencing homelessness. You will make it work (and people will graciously take you out for lunch sometimes)!

·         Most importantly, LAUGH at least once a day!

You should know that you will be okay. Time is a funny thing that passes painfully slowly or much too quickly. The magic of it all is that the world keeps spinning regardless of what’s happening in our small moments.

My mantra this year has been “just show up.” When all the other advice I’ve given fails, all you have to do is show up for the next day or the next moment. By the end of this year you will realize how brave and compassionate and strong and smart you have been, even in your worst moments. Your middle name is Grace, and it truly comes naturally to you wherever you are.
With Love and Peace and Hope,
P.S. “There is something you must always remember.
You are braver than you believe,
stronger than you seem,
and smarter than you think.”
- Winnie the Pooh