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Letter to My Younger Self

4/30/13
To my younger self,
I look back at you and see your confusion and suffering. I see the battle that you fought in your mind and against others. I still feel the heat of your anger and frustration. Let me tell you the truth about what you can't seem to put your finger on. Let me tell you about how strong you are and the woman that you will become.
There are those who tell you what you should do and who you should be. They even try to tell you how to look, what to like, and how to think. You are right to fight against the pressure being daily thrust upon you. Don't let your resistance lead to a fear of listening to what the people who oppose you have to say. Hear their perspective. Do not stop asking questions when others give information as if to say it is the way or the truth. Do not be angry at these people.
You are angry now, and frustrated at the unfairness of others being allowed to impose their way on you. Do not be angry. In your anger you miss the chance to make an impact. Slow down. Talk to those around you who are causing you frustration. You will see that you and truly every other person is limited by their own experience and understanding. You must break these barriers and confound these limits. Learn what it is to see another person's life and perspective. You do not know what it is to see the world as they do, just as they do not what it is to see this life through your eyes. Not everyone will agree with you, and you shouldn't try to make them. Share what you know of life and listen to others when they are sharing with you.
There will be obstacles in your life that will make you want to take the easy way out. The easy way is the hardest path to happiness and fulfillment and you will find nothing you value there. Keep trying. Keep asking questions. Keep loving. Having a good life is a battle. You may tire of fighting this battle, but it is a privilege to fight. It is a privilege to live.
Here is your greatest suffering; that others tell you what to be and want as a woman. Let go of their judgment on you. What you feel in your beating heart is the truth. No person can define what you are but you.
Let no person tell you what it means to be a woman. Can you see that it is you? You define what it is by your very existence. It is not for someone else to tell you what it is and for you to set out in effort to become that. No. Only you know how to be the woman you were born to be. Go and be her.

With love,
The Woman You Became

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Comments

Sangita Thapa's picture

Inspiring!

Beautiful and inspiring! Your words, your writing, they touched my soul dear Bou! I particularly like the lines ''in your anger you miss the chance to make an impact. Slow down.'' and ''Only you know how to be the woman you were born to be. Go and be her.'' Thank you for sharing this amazing post.

boughnea's picture

Thank you Sangita for your

Thank you Sangita for your kind words. I wish you success and hope you have an amazing day... today and each day!

smothyz's picture

go and be her!

i love how you have put it all down without being evasive of your feelings. at times we can write and be scared of putting all that we are feeling on paper, for it gets scary to read and think we are feeling what we are feeling. i love that you have brought it to my face and awoken some feelings/things that i think about or feel, but ignore. thank you for putting it so simple, but so true.

lovely.

God bless you.
Claudia.

Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only LOVE can do that. -Martin Luther King Jnr.

smothyz's picture

share!

its so profound that i am going to put it as a not on my facebook status and hopefully people can read it...i hope you do not mind.

Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only LOVE can do that. -Martin Luther King Jnr.

boughnea's picture

Thank you!

Of course I don't mind. I'm so glad that this was something that moved you! thank you for telling me as that helps me stay motivated too : )

erinluhmann's picture

Valuable Perspective

Dear Boughnea,

I like the letter format of your submission and found that the advice you had to offer your younger self resonated with me as well. I'm sure this extends beyond me because you are incredibly articulate about celebrating womanhood and diversity.

Are there certain examples that you could ground your advice in, to help give it context?

Best,
Erin

boughnea's picture

Hi Erin, I suppose my biggest

Hi Erin,

I suppose my biggest frustrations came throughout my growing up with the general feeling of bureaucracy. Starting at a younger age when I played sports, I saw that girls were taught in one way and boys in another, or that I was expected to have a more polite kind of attitude throughout the competitive experience. I felt a shift in myself when I was in grade school and switching from little-league to softball. I had assumed that I would be able to move up to baseball when the age change happened, but the boys got to play baseball and I had to play softball. The ball was larger, the bases were closer, under-hand pitching. None of these things are in and of themselves necessarily offensive, but the whole thing made me feel like I was being handled in a way... or corralled I guess. From then on I became very aware of slight differences in how I was treated in comparison to my male peers. I began to become more informed on global issues of disparity and gender relations. These frustrations seemed to come back to my dislike of things being a certain way just because it has always been that way. If there's no good reason for a thing to be a certain way, I would get a feeling of disillusionment. I had a lot of difficulty dealing with situations where I felt that I saw disparity and that others would even acknowledge but then do nothing to change it. To me, these sorts of things which occur frequently but on different levels in our daily lives, and can be hard to pin down, or to list out in a very concise way... if that makes any sense.

Later in life I had a big problem with the expectation that I should want to be a mother, that that was an indicator of womanhood and what it meant to be a "real" woman. I have profound respect for mothers, but I never really felt that I wanted to be one. I began to have an identity crisis and felt that I was not a good woman because I was competitive, very direct in my communication style, I didn't want kids and I didn't know if I wanted to get married either. I had been socialized into thinking that these were the positive traits of a woman and that they were valuable. The traits that I possessed were more typically masculine.

I have spent a lot of my years travelling and in academia. I have invested much of my time and energy in activities that have helped me to build an identity for myself around the things I value and on my strengths. I have tried to cut out negative individuals that made me feel judged and surrounded myself with friends and family who appreciate the person that I am, and leave the notion of who they think I should be out of our relationship.

That was a lot of information. I'm not sure if you were looking for that kind of a response, but I figured I'd put it out there.

Best of luck in all that you set out to be and do.

-Amanda

Anais Tuepker's picture

intimate and insightful

Hello Boughnea,

Thank you for sharing this lovely and intimate reflection. It's a wonderful practice to be able to talk to yourself in this way, and it's amazing, I think, that when we take the time and space to reflect for our own growth (and sanity), we invariably find something worth sharing with others. That is certainly the case here in your piece, to which I easily related.

Like Erin above, on the one hand I'm interested to know more about the specific encounters that cause anger and frustration, so we can reflect on how they might be changed, especially if they relate to the common experiences of women. But at the same time I'm not sure more specific information would really fit with the intention of your piece, which reads nicely (at least to me) as a more general, gentle reminder to maintain openness to the experience of others. And that's always good advice, I think!

I look forward to reading more of your thoughts,
best wishes,
Anais

boughnea's picture

Thank you Anais for your

Thank you Anais for your encouragement. I replied to Erin and I hope that that was the information you were hoping to get too. I think you're right in that I didn't really want to spend a lot of the piece pointing fingers, or getting too detailed, but that's mostly because I so easily get swept up in details in my daily life (I tend to over-think and analyze a lot... or give way too many details : )

Thanks again for your response, I'm really glad to know that this is something that resonated.

Best of luck to you!
Amanda

Mila's picture

Wow and thank you!

Dear Boughnea,

Wow, thank you so much for writing and sharing with us! Your piece is so inspiring and motivating. It was a really creative way for your to write. I would love to know more about your back story--how you changed from your past self ot your current self.

All the best,
Mila

boughnea's picture

Hi Mila, Thank you for your

Hi Mila,

Thank you for your comment! I'm so touched by people letting me know that what I wrote made sense and that it was motivating for them, or inspiring in any way. I wrote something up above to Erin that has some information about sort-of who I am and how I got where I'm at now : )

Thanks again Mila. Best of luck in all you do!

Amanda

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