There are so many things I would say to my younger self. If I had to pick one, I would definitely tell her not to personalize things. If I could write a note to myself and send it back in time, here is what it would look like. 

My dearest Reyzan,

This is your future self, and I wanted to share something with you. It may not seem obvious, but you will come across so many people who will deliberately try to invalidate, minimize, and undermine you. 

Understand to not take all of that personally. 

Understand it is the way the world, and that so many in it, operate so they can distract themselves from their own self-loathing. 

Your kindness and naïveté makes you an easy target. I know your intentions are good, but you can’t assume that others share your goodwill. Still listen to others, but try not to ruminate on advice that does not connect with your identity. You are a strong and powerful woman. 

It is sad how too many people go through their lives all in order to protect their own fragility at the cost of others. Many lessons will be thrown at you from those you meet and influence you. I ask you to treat these lessons gently, hang in there, and know that eventually, you will acquire the bandwidth that will help strengthen your moral compass. 

I ask you to take more risks, I implore you to get more comfortable with being uncomfortable. Life is too short to be calculating and re-calculating every risk that comes your way. Have enough faith in your gut feelings and don’t let your mind or your surroundings take you down the rabbit hole of self-doubt. I am here to tell you that these risks are all opportunities for growth, even if they don’t pan out the way you desired them to be in the moment. 

I ask you not to pay attention to what people think of you or say about you. 

I can tell you with 100 percent certainty, that you will eventually become the kind of person who does not drive her self-validation from others. I want you to acquire thick skin now, rather than later. I want you to live life by your own terms and expectations. Don’t let the people around you stifle your growth, or try to put you in a small box. You have a lot to offer to the world, you have wings, and you can fly your own path. 

Sincerely, your future self!
Reyzan Shali

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