Dear Me of Yesterday

Local Ladies Write To Their Younger Selves

Article by Tahiera Brown, Tonia Trotter Price, Laura Kate Whitney and Taylor Peake

Photography by Provided, with edits by Sam Evans

Originally published in Birmingham Lifestyle

Dear younger Tahiera, 

Imagine the moment in heaven when it was decided you would be born — how exciting that moment was. 

Somewhere in a world where the most intelligent mind cannot explore is the beginning of life. It's that spark of energy that awakens something so amazing and incredible that even to this day it is called a miracle. It is you, and you're going to make an impact. You will almost lose your life to save your children, but that experience will be the catalyst that will challenge you to be a voice for the voiceless. You will write about life through books and film scripts. You will change people's lives through storytelling as you grace many stages as a speaker. You will be a caregiver to someone with special needs for a very long time. 

Trust your instincts. Every smiling face does not have a smiling heart. Love does not reside in the heart of every person you will meet. This little body that you live in will endure many hardships. It's a miracle that you'll still reside there. You'll be faced with the cold and harsh reality of what this physical form will endure. You will overcome odds against you. Life will speak to you, telling you to face another day with all you have to give, and you will be sustained. You will never be alone, as long as you hold onto your faith. Don’t be selfish and take life for granted. You will be impatient when sickness takes hold of you, but realize this: it takes time to heal. Use time wisely. Don’t be impatient in times of hunger. You will be spiritually fed. This will be a time of meditation and prayer. 

As I write this love letter to you, I want you to know how much I truly love you and appreciate the care you've given me. Don’t forget your calling. 

Tahiera Monique Brown
Darkness to Light Films CEO, Speaker, Writer, Survivor

Dear younger Tonia,

Your mom is going to tell you this: “The things you don’t like about yourself now will be the things you like most about yourself one day.” 

Listen to her, and repeat her kind words to yourself, because she’s right. She’s not the same as you, but she does understand more than you might think. Though her version of support might be different from yours, she will always have your best interest at heart. And as you grow older, you’ll find the best parts of you are made from the best parts of her.

As for those things that you don’t like about yourself… you don’t like them because they make you different. Right now, you want to blend in. You look around and compare yourself, and you’re convinced you’re worth less than others. You want all the things you don’t have, but most of all, you want a sense of belonging.

But here’s the thing: you belong. And in time, you are going to find so much belonging, you will have to choose where you want to focus your energy.

The experiences that make you feel like you are on the outside will teach you important tools: appreciation, empathy, perspective and resourcefulness. You’ll find value in what sets you apart, and it will be an asset that allows you to adapt easily to different careers, communities and stages of life. 

You will be able to connect with others authentically and find yourself invited in because you have learned to seek out and hold onto what you share rather than what divides. That’s a powerful gift: finding the common thread between ourselves and others. 

Don’t wish it away. It’s the best thing about you.

Tonia Trotter Price
Designer, Writer, Advocate

Dear younger Taylor,

The Cubs do eventually win the World Series. The Yankees’ pinstripes are still sexy. Michael Jordan is still the greatest of all time. And, in 2020, well … you’ll see. 

Growing up is not a hockey stick chart of forward motion that reaches up-and-to-the-right highs without dips. It’s more of a rollercoaster with twists and turns at unexpected moments, with unbelievable highs and challenging dips. Work to surround yourself with loving friends and partners who help you grow, and celebrate the journey. 

The small coal-mining town you grew up in will change in ways you can’t imagine. The American dream of working hard to earn your desires will morph. Everything you think you understand about the economy, politics and relationships will change multiple times. 

Be careful what you ask for, because sometimes you get exactly that. Challenge yourself to set goals with purpose that make a difference in your life and for your community. Stay focused on how to achieve those, but not so focused you can’t enjoy the moment. Accept that the task of learning how to be better is never finished. Do the best with what you have, and know sometimes the outcome is inevitable. The risk is sometimes worth the reward, and sometimes it’s not. Balance is a key lesson in life. 

Love, support and forgive the ones in your life who make the days easier. They’ll be the ones you want to love, celebrate and support through the years. Your kids will be unbelievable and more than you could ever hope for. When you are working more than you should or worried about the day’s problems, know that you have a lot to look forward to with them. 

Taylor Peake
MotionMobs President, Tech Entrepreneur

Dear younger Laura Kate,

Oh, the places you’ll go, darling girl, with your dark brown eyes and your insatiable optimism. Your life is a memoir in the making—let me illuminate the horizon with a few prompts and promises that may serve to soften the path before you:

Don’t listen to folks who tell you your appetite for discovery is annoying or difficult—those aren’t your people. Keep asking questions. Stay curious. You are vulnerable with your love, which sometimes exposes you to pain. With every moment of hurt, you are building your capacity to love beyond scope or measure. You absorb life through a unique lens. Don’t listen to the people who tell you that’s a bad thing. You keep doing you, and stay steady on your journey—it’s a less-traveled route, yes, and it’s uniquely yours. You like to write things down. This is a tool for growth. Keep doing it, and do it often. Your gumption might get you into trouble, but as you age, it will become one of your handiest and most well-worn tools. Be willing to begin. Again and again. With every beginning comes new opportunity to expand what you thought was possible. You’ll be delighted with what you find. You will surprise yourself, and one day you’ll become a mother. This will become the most important part of your life. You will waste time comparing yourself to others — stop. You will endure unnecessary suffering until you learn forgiveness. And patience. Start practicing now. Having it all and doing it all is a scam. As soon as you let go of your need to be in control, life will move with more ease. Stop resisting what you know is right for you, just for the sake of making someone else happy. Stop apologizing when you deserve to be in the room, at the table, speaking up.

And, finally, if you glean anything from this love letter from your bold and brilliant future self, let it be this: every single day, take a good long look in the mirror at your gorgeous, youthful body. Salute it. High-five it. Hug it. Blow a kiss to it. Bow down to it. You will never look as good as you do right now. ⧫ And, p.s.—it’s going to hurt, but the struggle will make you stronger. And you are one tough, delicious cookie. 🖤

Laura Kate Whitney
Ideator, Connector, Mover & Shaker

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