Occasionally I think back to the woman I was in the years before I came abroad.
Before I stopped living for everybody else.
Before I began speaking my own truth.
What I wouldn’t give to go back in time and have a talk with that Natasha.
I think how, with just a few minutes of conversation, I may be able to spare her and so many others a great deal of unnecessary suffering.
Eliminate countless hours of pain.
Save rivers of teardrops.
And although I am well aware that in life there are no ‘re-dos’ and definitely no space in one’s heart for regret, I can’t help but think of all the misery that could have been averted should that unseasoned girl have been warned.
I would speak to her about what to look out for; what mistakes to avoid, what toxic situations to remove herself from, and what precious hearts to treat with the utmost care.
I would tell her to be more accepting of where she came from. Caution her that, contrary to what she may believe, the grass will not always be greener on the other side of the country. And that maybe she shouldn’t be so quick to run from the place and people who saw tiny sparks of possibility within her right from the very beginning.
I would warn her that money is the worst way to keep score. That Biggie wasn’t kidding when he said mo’ money creates a hell of a lot mo’ problems. That the momentary satisfaction of owning nice things will never replace the lifelong fulfilment that derives from unforgettable experiences. And then I’d promise her that, in time, she’ll be shown the ways in which a beautiful heart and an inspiring place can give her all the things that money will never be able to buy.
I would advise her to ignore the false allure of external beauty. To define her worth based on something more than what another human thinks of her. Encourage her to love her flawless body – the vessel to Who She Is on the inside – and speak to it without judgement or criticism. I’d urge her to embrace every freckle, every scar, and every ounce of space she takes up in this world. For, at the end of the day she is not what others think of her, she is only what she thinks of herself.
I would tell that naive girl that she has two homes – her physical body and the earth – and to treat both as if they are the most important things imaginable. I’d remind her that she’s only fooling herself if she continues to believe that lasting happiness will stem from a glass bottle, a green bud, or a little white pill. Profess to her that self care is not selfish. And then humbly explain that she cannot possibly expect to help anyone else if she has not yet done the work to heal herself first.
I would encourage her to pay attention when loved ones speak to her; to treat their every word as if it may be the last time she’ll ever hear them. To never underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest complement, or the smallest act of kindness – all of which have the ability to turn a life around.
I would gently remind that Natasha of the plethora of things for which she has to be grateful; heeding her that one thoughtless action or mindless word has the potential to make it all disappear in an instant. I would advise her to wake up every morning with a thankful heart. Recognizing that, in having been gifted much more than the majority of the planet, she has an incredible opportunity to use her abundance to create joy in the lives of those less fortunate.
I would encourage her to always be herself. To give up the act and allow the authenticity of that raw, real, imperfect girl to shine through and attract the most special of souls into her world. I’d explain to her that every artificial action to “fit in” will only diminish the potential for her to develop lasting connections. That, regardless of what she may believe, her vulnerability is her most beautiful quality. And in the process of baring all, even the not-so-pretty portions of Who She Is, she will create space for those around her to do the same.
I would complement her on the strong, independent woman she has not yet recognized she is. Emphasizing that she has the power and potential to accomplish most anything she puts her mind to. I’d tell her that, regardless of what society dictates, she is whole on her own. That she does not, and will not, require another human to complete her. And that when the only partnership she’s ever known inevitably becomes a solo venture, she will stand on her own two feet and achieve things far beyond what her thinking mind could have ever imagined possible.
And even if she chose not to believe me, I would hold that broken angel’s hand and tell her not to worry.
That everything is happening exactly as it’s supposed to.
That she will never be dealt more than she can handle.
For, when the hurting and the searching is over, she’ll find her place.
She’ll find her purpose.
And in the process of being shaken, rattled, readjusted, and relocated – she’ll unknowingly inspire others to do the same.
Rearranging all the fractured pieces until something beautiful begins to shine through.