What I Know For Sure…Now: A Letter To My 21-Year-Old-Self

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Okay seriously, life is full of lessons whether you want to learn from them or not.  When you do learn, you expand your personal growth and development and make necessary changes so they don’t happen again.  If you don’t learn the life lessons, they will keep happening over and over until you do.  They won’t go away on their own.  That’s just the way it is…sigh.

No matter what age you are, something happened to you that affected your life and how you reacted to it changed you.  It didn’t kill you, it made you stronger.   But what if you could have a conversation with your younger self and give advice that would save you time and grief or give you confidence and perseverance in various areas of your life?  I know I’ve thought about this and I’d like to share what I know for sure… now.

Dear Jen,

You are 21 years young now and are studying very hard to become a nurse.  You have chosen a career path that is helpful and compassionate which aligns with who you are and your core values in life. Yes studying is hard, working in the hospital is hard but never give up because you are on the right path; you’ve got this.  Know that every day you will touch a life or a life will touch yours, this is the beauty in nursing.

What if I told you when you graduate you will move to another country to work and travel?  Not just once but twice. Nursing can open many doors for you and later on there is another big opportunity coming up that you cannot say no to, in Qatar.

Don’t always expect to be acknowledged and appreciated for all the hard work you do, people are tired and busy in their own worlds but in your heart, just know you are doing your best and in the end, you will be rewarded by Him.  Know your own self-worth because if you think you are cheap, people will see and treat you as cheap. Try not to control every outcome, just relax and enjoy the ride because you have so much ahead of you, a world of experiences that will blow your mind!

Life Coaching is in your future which is another beautiful helping profession and by walking this path, you learn so much about yourself in the process and it’s an automatic win-win for you and your clients. You will be so inspired, you will really love this but it takes work to get it going.  Don’t give up.

Relationships are complicated but a very big part of your life Jen.  Friendships are to be treasured and respected by both sides otherwise, it’s not worth it.  Everywhere you go, you will meet new friends and connect well with them for life because of who you are.  You have many amazing friends who inspire you so hang on tight they are your rocks during your toughest moments.   Don’t forget to be there for them too and love them with all your heart.  Sadly, one of your closest friends will be diagnosed with cancer and cannot beat it.  However, having known her, changes your perspective on life for the better because you learn to appreciate the little things, slow down and look within yourself for answers to life’s complicated questions.  You have all the solutions inside you, just dig deep because they’re all there.  You feel a deep sense of gratitude for having known her and you miss her.

Family is another important part of your life and you need to show your appreciation for everything they do for you.  Nobody’s perfect and everyone is doing the best they can, just like you Jen.  Perfection is a dangerous thing and not even possible so let it go.  Imperfections are what make people beautiful including you.  It all depends on your perspective, try to look at them as your gifts.  Your entire family loves you unconditionally, you love them too and you get along with everyone.

Ah, romance, romance.  You have met some really nice guys that showed interest in you so far and you have been interested in some of them.   But Jen, you need to have more self-confidence you need to love yourself more.  Learn how to be assertive and stand up to the ones who don’t treat you right and hold hands with the ones who do.  Don’t get blindsided by flattery, take it for what it is which is sweet.  Not every guy will understand your kind heart but that’s ok, it’s not your job to convince him of it.  Never let the good guy get away, easier said than done.  Romantic involvement is complex and fleeting.  Don’t settle for someone, make sure your man adores you, protects you, makes time for you, has the same values as you, has your back on everything and knows how to use a hammer!  This will save you a ton of frustration…

What you really want is someone who makes you smile, is proud of you, supports you and inspires you, is emotionally there for you and treats you like his queen.  Not a man who drains you or takes advantage of your good nature or abandons you.  He will love you with his whole heart by making you his number one priority and not let his external environment control how he feels or acts around you.

He must know his own core values and who he truly is on the inside otherwise he is a chameleon adjusting to every external environment, not a man.

If you are looking for a chameleon, go to Costa Rica.

Make sure he never interrupts you or puts you down in front of other people; he should be singing your praises instead.  You are a fine catch young lady and never forget that!  😉

You put everyone’s needs ahead of your own and deep down, you want your needs met too and why not?  People pleasing and putting yourself last is killing you without you even realizing it.  You need to take better care of yourself so you have the ability to take care of others.  Everywhere you go you are a caretaker.  Learn to set some boundaries for yourself otherwise people will walk all over you as if you were a doormat.  “No” is a complete sentence, remember that my love.  And whatever you do, don’t let the opinions of others influence you to the point of doing nothing.  You’re better than that.

Be very mindful of selfish people and narcissists in your life.  They are your biggest threat because they give subtle red flags and are very good at charming you.  Take off those rose colored glasses so you can actually see the color red.  They are only interested in themselves so don’t kid yourself into thinking they have something to offer you.  They are takers and you are a giver so you are vulnerable in this situation.  Be very, very careful.

I know you can’t see it now but your heart of gold will fall in love with one man and two children over the years.  Unfortunately heartbreak is in your future but this tragedy has its silver lining.  You experience two sides of the same coin but you are a trooper, a real warrior.  Facing these various betrayals are the biggest stressors you will go through but it’s not what happens to us in life that determines who we are, it’s how we cope and react to it that counts and you have excellent coping skills.  Like grace under fire. You are not a victim so don’t play that role, ever.  You might feel like you are all alone in this but you’re not.  You are stronger than you realize and you have God in your corner.  This is a time for self-compassion and practicing self-care, finally.  You have put this off long enough Jen so time to pay attention to yourself.  It’s self-discovery time.  Be a good example for your kids because they are always watching and taking notes.  Learn the lessons here and don’t worry so much, everything is going to be okay.

You really need a vacation, you should plan one.

Writing blogs for you is a positive emotional outlet and an incredibly important way of dealing with stress because getting your emotions out on paper or a screen is cathartic.  A wonderful healing tool for all.  Not only are you helping yourself but also helping others by letting them know we are all in this together, nobody is alone.  An amazing world of bloggers is out there and each person has something beautiful to offer, appreciate each and every one of them from your heart because they are probably fighting a battle of their own you know nothing about.  You learn to write your way out of this betrayal and when writing the story of your life Jen, don’t let anyone else hold the pen, own it.  You get to write your own ending.  On the other side of this fear is freedom so hang in there, you’re doing great.  You are finding your inner voice and are finally starting to use it.  Better late than never girl!

Exercise has always been a priority in your life but during this time you must keep moving more than ever.  The physical, mental, emotional and spiritual benefits are endless.  Exercise helps to get the negative energy out, clear your mind, release those endorphins and make you feel empowered again.  You meet more friends along the way who support you and you can’t imagine your life without them because they are just so fun to be with!  You learn new activities like Zumba and PiYo which you even become addicted to!

As you make your way through the pain with your kids, your vision becomes clearer and you slowly get your strength back, thanks to your family and friends here and all around the world.  Connection has empowered you to stand up for what you believe in and fight for your rights my little warrior.  You are getting to know and love yourself more and more each and every day, the butterfly is emerging.  One of the greatest lessons you can learn is to practice gratitude, forgiveness and surrender.  These are the silver linings in the dark clouds.  You will make it to the other side Jen, you are almost there so don’t give up now.  Music and lyrics inspire you and give you energy.  There’s one song that’s about standing for something and getting stronger which is exactly what you need right now.  You need to stand for you.  Share this song with your amazing friends and in the meantime…ROAR!

To be continued in another 20 years….

And this is what I know for sure….now.

Love,

Jen
xo

The Gift of Forgiveness

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What is forgiveness?   It is making a deliberate decision to release feelings of resentment or vengeance toward a person or group who has harmed you.  It takes a strong person to say “I’m sorry” and an even stronger person to forgive.  Forgiveness brings the forgiver peace of mind and frees them from their own anger and deeply held negative feelings. It empowers you to recognize the pain you suffered without letting that pain define you, enabling you to heal and move on with your life.  In essence, it’s about giving up the hope that the past could be any different and accept that something happened.

The opposite of forgiveness is revenge.  This negative emotion is never sweet and can literally tear you apart.  If you get revenge on the person who harmed you, they may no longer suffer depending on the revenge but either way, it will have a direct impact on your life where you will only suffer more.   Some people say the best revenge is just moving on and let karma do the rest.  What are your thoughts on that?

Confusion about forgiveness is when we think about forgiving someone who has harmed us, we believe we are saying to that person it’s okay what they did and we’re letting them off the hook or giving up our control. This isn’t true and it’s not about accepting bad behavior.  We might even see ourselves as a doormat.  When you forgive, you do not wear rose-colored glasses or deny the seriousness of what happened to you. Forgiveness does not mean forgetting.  Maybe some of you reading this blog have felt this way and I have to admit I did for a long time too.

Forgiveness comes in its own time and shouldn’t be rushed so if you are struggling with forgiveness then it’s not the right time and that’s okay.  When you do feel ready to forgive, try to recognize the causes that led that person to act as they did and this can help facilitate the process of forgiveness.  I am currently on my own journey of forgiveness and I understand how difficult it can be, you are not alone.

Why should we forgive?  Here are a few things I have discovered about forgiveness.

  • It makes us happier
  • Improves our emotional, mental, spiritual and physical health
  • Sustains relationships worth saving
  • Self-esteem, confidence and self-worth return at a higher level
  • If we don’t transform our pain, we transmit it to those around us
  • When you forgive you don’t change the past, you change your future by rising above what happened. It’s life changing for the better
  • Sets you free from that person and their negativity, you take your power back

How do we forgive someone who has harmed us deeply?  This is where the rubber fails to hit the road.

  • Accept and process your anger even though it’s difficult, be patient
  • Acknowledge your revenge fantasies, they are just that
  • Forgive yourself it’s crucial to your healing
  • Try to see a common humanity between you and the person you are trying to forgive
  • See them with a compassionate eye. They’re only human just like you
  • Realize the cure for pain and suffering is where personal growth and development can arise. This is usually a time where you might see the silver lining in your situation
  • Forgetting about it and pretending it did not happen is not forgiveness

In the beginning, it’s really hard and it takes so much strength to forgive.  To change the world, we need to change our mind.  Hanging onto these negative emotions ends up hurting us in the end.  When you don’t forgive, you keep that wound open and you inflict more pain on yourself which isn’t healing for you at all.

Forgive them even if they aren’t sorry and even if you never get that apology.  I know…that’s a tough one.

When we struggle with being right or being happy, we are still struggling with forgiveness and that’s okay.  We need to discover how to get out of our own way and stop holding ourselves hostage because we end up blocking the flow of happiness in our life.  After all, on the other side of forgiveness is a personal freedom which is amazingly beautiful.

Forgiveness happens when we stop holding a grudge and let go of our right to resentment for being mistreated. It doesn’t mean we stop protecting ourselves but it does mean we let go of emotional retaliation which only hurts us in the long run. Carrying around revenge in your heart will only weigh you down in negativity. It takes more strength to be able to forgive but what you resist can persist and that is no way to go through life carrying around this unnecessary baggage. Say it for yourself and move on, you are actually giving yourself a gift of peace by doing this.

True forgiveness is a gift to ourselves, the other person doesn’t need to be present or even know we have forgiven them because forgiveness takes place in our minds and in our bodies.  We do it for ourselves so we can be at peace and live our best life, free from negativity.  By letting go of the past and surrendering to what is, you create the process of emptying your mind. The only way to stop the vicious cycle of reacting to pain by causing more pain is to step out of the system by taking a step back.

Most importantly, we need to allow our hearts fill with compassion and learn how to forgive ourselves.  This might be more difficult than forgiving another human being because we are so hard on ourselves.   Forgive yourself for not knowing what you didn’t know before you learned it.  Hindsight is always 20/20.  Your best teacher is your last mistake so it’s important to learn from it so it is not repeated in your life and then move on.  Just because you made a mistake doesn’t mean you are a mistake.  Try and be self-compassionate.

Sometimes what you’re most afraid of doing is the very thing that will set you free.  Trust yourself and forgive them.

I wish you all the very best on your journey of giving yourself the gift of forgiveness.

“By owning our story and loving ourselves through that process is the bravest thing that we will ever do.  And when we own the story, then we can write the ending.”  ~ Brené Brown

 Much Love,

Jennifer Juneau

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