Wednesday, September 14, 2016

A letter to my 16 year old self


I am now old enough to be your mother. Which likely means that much of what I am about to say will sound like an esoteric bunch of gibberish to you. Bear with me, dear girl, and listen. I promise, I will keep it short. 

I know you are sad and heartbroken right now… But please, please try not worry so much about leaving the Soviet Union and starting a new life in America. I know you have so many questions. I won’t sugarcoat it – this journey won’t be an easy one. And yet, all you need to know now is that it's going to be OK. It will be better than OK, actually. You are going to figure it out! Yes, all of it! And New York City will become your “home sweet home.”

You will learn English and, you know what, you will master it enough to be as "witty” in English as you are in Russian. I dare say, you will even be wittier. 

Fear less (much less) and love more. I can’t explain it now but it will always be important. Just trust me on this one.

Spend as much time as you can with grandma, grandpa and mom. There will come a day when their hugs and their smiles will live only in your memories.  Listen more, be more patient and be kinder…You will always be their hope and their rock. They will always be your guiding light.

As much as you imagine your future of solitary existence, that kind of proud, passion-less un-attachment isn’t in the cards for you. You will find love or rather love will find you. And it will be real, boundless, crazy, “ridiculous, inconvenient, consuming, can't-live-without-each-other love” (as it will one day be described by Carrie Bradshaw in the HBO’s "Sex and the city" …but that’s much, much later.)  

Make gratitude, love and zest for life your personal religion.

Keep making art. It will always be your companion and your joy! In about 20 years or so, you’ll have a Master’s in art history, a website, a Facebook page, and an Instagram account. See, I told you, it will sound like gibberish!

You know how grandma often, lovingly and with kindness, wishes you to one day have a kid who will be just like you? She says he or she will be equally stubborn and strong-willed, will push your every button, question everything, will keep you on your toes and will make you want to be a better version of yourself? Well, watch out! Her wishes for you will become reality and it will be amazing. That’s all I am going to say right now.

You will be blessed with incredible friendships. Your soulmates will surround, embrace you and you will walk through life together with them. Never, ever take them for granted and always strive to give more than you receive.

This will absolutely sound like a cliché, but I will say it anyway – keep searching for your own voice and your north star. Don’t doubt that you can do anything. You will always be a work in progress, but as time goes by, you will get closer and closer to something resembling wisdom, a kind of “essence” of the human you are meant to be. Just keep working, learning and chipping away at this big, amazing pie called life.

Look for signs. The Universe will be speaking to you in hundreds of different ways. Pay attention. And don’t let any butterfly fly by without blessing it with your smile.

You’ve always wanted to have special powers. And guess what? You already have them. Many years from now you will discover names of these magical powers – compassion, empathy, love, attention…Doesn’t sound special enough for you? Oh my darling, you have so much more to learn.

And, my dear sweet girl, you will have to shave your legs... this is what they do here, in America. Seriously, as ridiculous as it sounds now, it is a non-negotiable, necessary evil. We will discuss underarms another time...

With a lot love, pride and faith in you,

Your older self.