Notes To My Younger Self

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By: Kat Reinhert

Dear 13 year old self,

Being on the gymnastics team might feel like you need to look good in a tight, ill-fitting leotard as people watch you jump up and twirl around or swing from bar to bar – but really, what you need to be is strong. Even though it’s hard, try to focus on the work and the joy in learning new tricks instead of whether or not people are looking at you. I promise, whether or not you get a good score or if you fall down and fail, show up the next day for you. You don’t need to purge your dinner because you think you are fat. You don’t need to overeat because you’re stressed. You are enough.

Dear 19 year old self,

Well, now, you’re in college. And you’ve decided to pursue music. Specifically, jazz singing. And you’ve moved to NYC.   I know it feels like you’re not good enough to hang with all these amazing musicians you are meeting. I know you’re working really hard to understand complicated musical ideas like improvisation and tri-tone substitutions. I know you cut off all your hair and a bum on the street mistook you for a boy. But you are beautiful. You are smart. You are driven. Don’t use your femininity to define your art. And don’t think that people are only working with you – and will only work with you – if you are thin and all put together perfectly. You don’t need to be perfect. Don’t date people who manipulate you. Date the kid who sees you for who you are. He doesn’t care that you’re almost a foot taller than he is. Don’t have so much pride that you can’t ask your parents for money because you’re hungry. Being skinny isn’t the answer. And when you go home, you don’t need to overeat and purge because your home life is stressful. Weight is transitive. It doesn’t define who you are or what you are worth. And purging really isn’t good for singing. And you’re a singer, so just stop.

You are enough.

Dear 27 year old self,

You’re engaged now. And I know he has the body of someone in a magazine. But that doesn’t mean you need to have the same image. You don’t need to be perfect even though it feels like you do. I see you looking at yourself every night wondering how you can lose weight. I see you hating your body. But I also see you letting go of some of that. You’re back in school now and about to embark on a new adventure. You’re going to learn so much and you’re going to walk away from something very important. And it will be the best decision you make. Because you’ll start making music. You’ll go on tour. But it doesn’t have to be perfect. Even though you think it does, and everyone around you for the next ten years will make it seem like it does. But it doesn’t. Perfection is an illusion. It ruins experiences and lives. It stops you from doing what you love.

You are enough.

Dear 37 year old self,

You’re divorced. And you’ve finally decided to figure out who you are. Because you almost lost yourself. You will write some truly heart-wrenching songs (well, they are heart-wrenching for you). You will finally see a therapist. Together, with some friends, you will heal your heart and your soul and start down the road to becoming your authentic self. You will still struggle with your body image but it will no longer control or define you. You will have bad days and good days. But you will never go back. Because you have learned to love yourself. You will change your love of exercise to a love of being healthy. You will wear clothes you never thought you could. You will find joy and self-expression through style. Regardless of whether your pants fit easy or tight. You will fall in love with someone who loves you for who you are inside. Who sees you. Who celebrates all that you are – in both your struggles and your triumphs. Who holds up a mirror, but doesn’t judge you. And you will love him in the same way because you love yourself in the same way.

You are enough.

Hello, 40 year old self!

unnamedYou’re still having days where you don’t feel good about how you look, but they are few and far between. There are so much more important things to worry about. You have a PhD, you got a job at a major university teaching voice and songwriting. You have become and continue to work on being the authentic self you seek. And it matters. Oh it matters. You have become that which you sought. You have a finance. Your family loves you. Your students threw you a graduation party and wrote you the most amazing letters that brought you to tears. You have a wedding to plan. You have music to write and venues to play. You have someone in your life that you are going to walk alongside for a very long time. You’ve healed most of the wounds, although sometimes they re-open and you need to stitch them back up, but that’s ok. You’re ok. There are just so many more important things to work with in your life that have nothing to do with the size of your thighs. No one cares. Will you have days where you look in the mirror and hate what you see? Of course? Will you always strive to be healthy? Of course. Will you cringe when you get yourself weighed at the doctor and the number just feels like failure? Of course. Will you forever have days where it feels like you’re not enough? Of course. Will you doubt your purpose? Of course. Will you wonder when enough is enough? Of course. Are there still a million questions you don’t have answers to? Yup. But that’s awesome. Because it means you have a whole lot more to live for and figure out!

Besides, these things no longer define you. They are simply part of life and you can see them for what they are and let go. Because YOU ARE ENOUGH.


About the Author:

unnamedAn intriguing singer with a vision toward the future, Kat Reinhert enchants listeners with her original songs, signature style and insightful storytelling. Kat is passionate about teaching voice and educating students in the craft of songwriting and creative original music and is a sought after voice pedagogue, clinician and educator.

Letter to a Younger Self: A Project HEAL Series

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To my favorite little girl in the whole wide world,

I have wanted to write you this letter for a long time because my heart is so full of love for you. Buddy, I just really want you to know that this crazy, amazing, special world is all at your fingertips and you can be and do anything you want to me.

I want you to also know you are a blessing. Not just from God but also for me. You are a blessing because your smile and laughter and tushy light up a world. You are a blessing because when you sing happy birthday, you always think it is for you.

Kiddo you were created in God’s image and that is one of the many reasons why you are so beautiful. I want you to hold onto your beauty, not because you have to, but because it is a part of you.

Your beauty is something you share, without knowing you are sharing it. Ah buddy, I will never forget the first time I held you and how you completely touched my soul, my heart and every bone in my body.

You have a spirit in you that is so full of happiness. I don’t want you to ever feel like you must be anything less than your authentic self.

You being you is the best thing in the world. Keep wearing color, loving snack time, and wearing pigtails – don’t let anyone take those things away from you.

Thank you for touching my life and giving me a reason to love being alive. You make me want to keep fighting, even when I have so little left in me, because I always want to be there for you.

You are growing up with different parents then me and in a world that is so different from me. You are growing up with a mom and a dad that love you more than you will ever know. They wanted to bring you into this world buddy because this world needed someone like you. You parents love you so much and they well never stop loving you.

You name means whole, complete, and perfect, but all you need to be is you. You are whole. You are complete. You are perfect.

Never forget that I am always here for you, always rooting for you, and always thinking about you. Keep holding on kid because the world is so much better now that you are here. Go get em!

 

All the love in the world,

Your Aunty


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Project HEAL’s new peer-based support program, Communities of HEALing, will include an evidence-based eating disorder prevention and body acceptance program known as the Body Project. The Body Project is an intervention that was developed by renowned researchers Eric Stice, Ph.D and Carolyn Becker, Ph.D and is backed by two decades of research at Stanford University, the University of Texas at Austin, and the Oregon Research Institute. This program has been delivered to over one million young women around the world and is the only program that has repeatedly demonstrated reductions of body dissatisfaction, negative mood, unhealthy dieting and disordered eating. Further evidence indicates that the Body Project intervention reduces the risk of future onset of eating disorders and obesity.
 
Recently, Project HEAL held its first facilitator training of the Body Project with some of our volunteers from NYC and PA, all of whom are in recovery from an eating disorder. One of the activities that all volunteers completed as part of the Body Project program was to write a letter to a younger version of themselves using the information they learned from other sessions of the intervention and advise their younger selves on how to avoid developing body image concerns. The letters shared were truly powerful and we are thrilled to have some of our new facilitators share their letters with you!

Letter to a Younger Self: A Project HEAL Series

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Dear that little blond hair, blue eyed girl,

I just wanted you to know that you are gifted. You were gifted when you were born and you are gifted today. The thing is buddy, you will always be gifted. You were born with a high chance of death, but you pushed through everything and came out strong. You push through and you continue to push through kiddo. Buddy you are so full of love and everyone that meets you knows that. Your smile, your heart, your humor, and your personality are a blessing.

You are you and that is what makes you so beautiful. I am writing you this letter because I want you to hold on to that little blond hair blue eyed girl. You don’t need to change to receive love, you just need to be you. Own your soul. Own your body. Own your baby making hips. And own that smile and don’t ever doubt how incredible these things are. Your authentic beauty will inspire others to be authentic and that is the best thing you can do for the world.

I want you to listen to me very carefully. Because I am older you. I have been through a lot of things that I never wish upon anyone, but there is one thing I really want you to hear.

Your body will change buddy, but your soul will not. Your soul is filled with so much good and that will forever be yours. But do not hold on to your body because I want you to know that it will always be changing. One day you will bring children into the world and your body will change yet again. Hold on to your soul buddy. Take good care of it and give your soul the body it need to change the world. Fuck your mother. Fuck the lies she told you about yourself. She was always so wrong about you.

Listen to me because I know the truth. Never give up. Never stop being you and always know that your soul, your heart, and your beauty are a blessing to this world. You were not born bad. Don’t think that for a minute. Sometimes children are born to parents who don’t bring out the best in them, but you have to hold on to the fact that it is not you… it is them. You did nothing wrong to deserve the pain you have been put through. You are you and that is a blessing.

 

I am always rooting for you!

So much Love,

 

Big L


tumblr_ksgmhuwnhu1qa9o8bo1_400_large

Project HEAL’s new peer-based support program, Communities of HEALing, will include an evidence-based eating disorder prevention and body acceptance program known as the Body Project. The Body Project is an intervention that was developed by renowned researchers Eric Stice, Ph.D and Carolyn Becker, Ph.D and is backed by two decades of research at Stanford University, the University of Texas at Austin, and the Oregon Research Institute. This program has been delivered to over one million young women around the world and is the only program that has repeatedly demonstrated reductions of body dissatisfaction, negative mood, unhealthy dieting and disordered eating. Further evidence indicates that the Body Project intervention reduces the risk of future onset of eating disorders and obesity.
 
Recently, Project HEAL held its first facilitator training of the Body Project with some of our volunteers from NYC and PA, all of whom are in recovery from an eating disorder. One of the activities that all volunteers completed as part of the Body Project program was to write a letter to a younger version of themselves using the information they learned from other sessions of the intervention and advise their younger selves on how to avoid developing body image concerns. The letters shared were truly powerful and we are thrilled to have some of our new facilitators share their letters with you!

Letter to a Younger Self: A Project HEAL Series

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Dear Little Kristina,

I hope you know that your greatest strengths are not held in what you look like.  You have so many gifts to offer the world – you are smart, vivacious, a born leader, an innovator, and have the potential to make a huge impact in the world.  None of this depends on what you look like.  These are the traits that I hope you spend time cultivating and developing.

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Looks are immutable.  Pouring time and energy into them is stupid; they don’t change!  All the time you spend dieting, getting facials, doing your hair, trying to look perfect – is just wasted time.  Instead, you could spend time cultivating the things that matter – developing deep relationships, learning about the world, working on changing it.

 

In the end, you will be most beautiful when you are confident – putting your natural leadership abilities into action and using your intelligence to inspire the world.  I hope that you will come to understand this sooner rather than later.  When you attract people to yourself that like you for these real reasons, not simply because of your looks, that is when you will truly be fulfilled and happy.

Love,

Big Kristina


tumblr_ksgmhuwnhu1qa9o8bo1_400_large

Project HEAL’s new peer-based support program, Communities of HEALing, will include an evidence-based eating disorder prevention and body acceptance program known as the Body Project. The Body Project is an intervention that was developed by renowned researchers Eric Stice, Ph.D and Carolyn Becker, Ph.D and is backed by two decades of research at Stanford University, the University of Texas at Austin, and the Oregon Research Institute. This program has been delivered to over one million young women around the world and is the only program that has repeatedly demonstrated reductions of body dissatisfaction, negative mood, unhealthy dieting and disordered eating. Further evidence indicates that the Body Project intervention reduces the risk of future onset of eating disorders and obesity.
 
Recently, Project HEAL held its first facilitator training of the Body Project with some of our volunteers from NYC and PA, all of whom are in recovery from an eating disorder. One of the activities that all volunteers completed as part of the Body Project program was to write a letter to a younger version of themselves using the information they learned from other sessions of the intervention and advise their younger selves on how to avoid developing body image concerns. The letters shared were truly powerful and we are thrilled to have some of our new facilitators share their letters with you!

Letter to a Younger Self: A Project HEAL Series

Share this:

Dear me (nine years ago),

I’m writing to you because I believe in you. If I really thought you were hopeless, this wouldn’t have a purpose.

I’m worried about your complete and utter denial of how ill you’re getting. Right now, I know it seems like all you’re doing is simply not eating. Maybe that’s true, and maybe it will be for a little while. But let me tell you something: it won’t last forever. I’d like to share with you what’s actually going to happen:

journalYou’ll be worrying about food 24/7, weighing yourself ten times a day, crying at the number on the scale, and bearing through the insane cold in order to stand stripped in front of your mirror for several hours seeing nothing but fat. You’ll be waking up five times every night from body- wracking chills unable to feel your fingers or toes, regularly dozing off at school, fainting in the most inappropriate situations, and running on the treadmill until everything goes black.

Comparing your body endlessly to everyone’s around you, isolating in your room because you don’t want people to see how fat you are, lying to those you love, creating clever excuses for why you can’t eat dinner, hiding food, and seriously worrying people who care about you will become part of your everyday life.

You’ll stop caring about everything that’s truly important, and you’ll eventually lose all the things that make you who you are.

If you don’t reverse it now, that is.

It doesn’t get easier with time; it only gets harder. Don’t wait until you feel inspired – just go for it. Sometimes everyone has to do things they don’t like to do.

Take care of yourself. Be well. I know you can do this, and you will.

With enough love to make up for your lack of love for yourself,

-A


tumblr_ksgmhuwnhu1qa9o8bo1_400_large

Project HEAL’s new peer-based support program, Communities of HEALing, will include an evidence-based eating disorder prevention and body acceptance program known as the Body Project. The Body Project is an intervention that was developed by renowned researchers Eric Stice, Ph.D and Carolyn Becker, Ph.D and is backed by two decades of research at Stanford University, the University of Texas at Austin, and the Oregon Research Institute. This program has been delivered to over one million young women around the world and is the only program that has repeatedly demonstrated reductions of body dissatisfaction, negative mood, unhealthy dieting and disordered eating. Further evidence indicates that the Body Project intervention reduces the risk of future onset of eating disorders and obesity.
 
Recently, Project HEAL held its first facilitator training of the Body Project with some of our volunteers from NYC and PA, all of whom are in recovery from an eating disorder. One of the activities that all volunteers completed as part of the Body Project program was to write a letter to a younger version of themselves using the information they learned from other sessions of the intervention and advise their younger selves on how to avoid developing body image concerns. The letters shared were truly powerful and we are thrilled to have some of our new facilitators share their letters with you!