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It's Been Real, Walter
A Letter to my Inner-Self Critic
HAPPY TUESDAY, F-WORDERS! As I completed my thirty-fourth trip around the sun on Sunday (that means I’m 34 now, people) and embark on my 35th, I am using this time as an opportunity for reflection and am taking the proverbial red pen to my own life. I’m talking making deep, deep cuts to what no longer serves me. In other words, some things I carried into this year will not, in fact, be invited to my birthday party next year. So, this week, I wrote a letter to Walter, that lovely little old man that lives rent-free inside of me, who loves to remind me of the ways I have come up short in this life. I hope you enjoy it!
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My Dearest Walter, Inner-Critic extraordinaire,
Happy Birthday! Or should I say Happy Anniversary? Thirty-four years we’ve been together…an entire lifetime (thus far). Throughout those years, you have been by my side, and I by yours. We have shared so much—you know things about me that even my closest confidants do not!
You’re a big fan of reminding me of such things— things I said and did twenty years ago— by waking me up in the middle of the night. Let’s relive some of those fond memories now!
Remember when we peed our pants on the first day of kindergarten, and shorted-out one (only one!) of our light-up shoes? Remember the time we peed our pants in second grade while going down the slide, and we left a massive puddle at the bottom? Remember the night we met Kevin, and ended up peeing our pants after he walked us out of the bar? Remember when we peed in our classroom trashcan (after all the students had left the room), because I couldn’t make it to the bathroom in time? And then we had to sneak the trash bag out of the room and into the hallway without the janitor noticing? (We pee a lot).
Remember when we took a soccer ball to the face in fourth grade, and a collective “OOOOH!” rang out from all the kids on the playground? Or when we bought sexy lingerie at Marshall’s, only to realize that the cashier was a student at the school we taught at? How about the time we were fifteen (at the height of our self-consciousness), and went to the salon for a trim, and the hairdresser sneezed and ended up giving us a bob? Remember in college when we kissed that guy at a party, and later found out he was married?
Oh god. Good times!!!!
Whew! What a wild ride. We have been two parts of a whole, you and I: each a broken-hearted piece of a friendship bracelet. Besties!
But, while this moment in our lives is cause for celebration, I’m afraid this letter is not one of joviality. I’m not writing to celebrate with you. I’m writing to break-up with you.
In my thirty-four years of age, I have now come to realize: while you were by my side, holding my hand through alllllll of these moments, this was not out of any form of love or support. Your presence in my life, and all that you have brought me: self-doubt, comparison, and jealousy, have, in fact, NOT HELPED ME AT ALL. You were holding my hand out of your own selfish desires, and have taken pride in my penchant for embarrassing moments, and in my failures.
And so, it is best, dearest one, that we part ways. I might keep your number in my phone for the occasional late-night booty call, because who doesn’t love revisiting the past once and a while? But these moments of contact will merely be out of a fondness and a soft spot for my former self, who was so controlled by you that she couldn’t separate what happened to her from her own self-worth. No longer!
Sometimes you were helpful, like when I wanted to think that pencil-thin eyebrows were cool but you stopped me after a few months of over-waxing, or when everyone else was wearing velour jumpsuits but you advised me to stick with denim. Thank you for that. But mainly, you have taken the beautiful experience of FAILURE and all the lessons that come with it, and have been a huge Debbie-Downer about it.
So, in closing: Let’s break this thing off now, so that I may look back at these moments of self-doubt and self-criticism still with a soft spot in my heart, and not with disdain and resentment.
It’s been real, Walter. But like that pair of size-three jeans I tried to squeeze myself into from age thirteen to seventeen, you just don’t fit anymore.
Until next week, F-WORDERS!
Love, light, and THANK U, NEXT on repeat,