My dear, sweet Stephanie,

You are sixteen today. Sixteen going on forty-five. That’s what everyone tells you, anyway. And you wear that like a badge of honor. Older beyond your years. So mature. But really – deep down in the hidden places within your soul – it makes you feel isolated, weird and like an outcast. You are so scared Stephanie. Petrified that if anyone glimpses the real you they will turn away. And so you wear your mask like a full-time job. You stay quiet. You try so hard to just blend into the background. You don’t want to be seen for fear of being judged. You don’t explore. You don’t try. You simply stay on the sidelines of life hoping you don’t get called into the game. And you feel empty and so completely afraid. This doesn’t have to be your reality. Sixteen years is long enough to stay hidden and alone.

Please, please, please Stephanie, know that you are enough. You are so completely enough. You have kindness in your soul that is begging to be shared. You have incredible gifts to give to the world. Your authentic self is the best version of you. You can feel comfortable in your own skin. I know that it seems impossible today. I know that. But that desire to crawl out of your skin, to leave your own body, is a side effect of pretending. It’s a reaction to trying to be someone else and separating from your truth. You don’t even know who you are anymore because you are so good at hiding that you feel like a ghost.

Life gets so much better the moment you choose to be yourself. I know how terrifying that thought is. You will attract the people who will fiercely and truly love and accept you when you begin to fiercely and truly love and accept yourself. And these people are amazing. They get you. They believe in you. They celebrate you. And they never, ever make you feel alone, less than or separate.

You are not broken.

You don’t repel happiness. The quest for perfection is boring and unnecessary. And it is safe to be loved. Break free from the walls you built around yourself. I know that you are just trying to protect yourself. But you don’t need to. You are stronger than you think you are. And you can handle everything that comes your way. The highest of highs and the lowest of lows. Just allow yourself to believe that you aren’t in this alone. That you are supported and guided and you have everything that you could possibly need already inside of you.

The reality is that not everyone will get you and that is totally okay, great even!

It is so much better to have a small, loyal tribe of loved ones than an army of acquaintances that don’t actually know you. And trust me, you will find your people. The people who you can shed your shell with and finally relax with. The people who will get you before you have even said one word.

I hope that you walk away from this letter with faith. Faith in yourself. Faith in the future. Faith in something so much bigger than you. 

(Oh and spoiler alert – you will find the love that you have been waiting for on the internet. Crazy but beautifully true. You won’t feel ready but trust me, you are more than ready. Open your heart to this one; he will take good care of it.)

With fierce and true love,