Dear Me was a Youtube campaign started in honor of International Woman’s Day. If presented with the opportunity to talk to their younger selves, the participants shared and addressed topics ranging from success and failure to body shape and bullying.
Though I didn’t really participate in the campaign (do not men or gender fluid people need inspiration too?) the following are the letters I would have given my younger self. Most being on taste and good posture; on honoring what I value and not filtering myself.
About My Quietness
I can come off cold and aloof when I’m quiet. When I was younger to make me more social like my siblings, my mother put me in this business like contract where I had to play sports and participate in high school activities to dance, ride horses and make art (re: be myself and enjoy my natural propensities). Essentially the message was: You’re not good enough. I performed and did well as the contract asked (varsity sports freshman year through high school, pep club president, homecoming queen) but it wasn’t true to me and ended up suffering from severe depression and withdrawal. I’m better now but still catch myself comparing myself to other people and their experiences. I’m still hard on myself but with time I’m getting better. It’s like flexing my muscles or neural priming; the more accepting I am of myself the better I and my quality of life gets.
On Working Alone
“Consider what Wozniak did right after the meeting in Menlo park. Did he huddle with fellow club members to work on computer design? No. (Although he did keep attending the meeting, ever other Wednesday.) Did he seek out a big, open office space full of cheerful pandemonium in which ideas would cross-pollinate? No. When you read his account of his work process on the first PC, the most striking thing is that he was always by himself.
Wozniak did most of the work inside his cubicle at Hewlett-Packard. He’d arrive around 6:30 a.m. and, alone in the early morning, read engineering magazines, study chip manuals and prepare designs in his head. After work, he’d go home, make a quick spaghetti or TV dinner, then drive back to the office and work late into the night. He describes this period of quiet midnights and solitary sunrises as “the biggest high ever.” His efforts paid off on the night of June 29, 1975, at around 10:00 p.m., when Woz finished building a prototype of his machine. He hit a few on the keyboard – and letter appeared on the screen in front of him. It was the sort of breakthrough moment that most of us can only dream of. And he was alone when it happened.
Intentionally so. In his memoir, he offers this advice to kids who aspire to great creativity:
“Most inventors and engineers I’ve met are like me- they’re shy and they live in their heads. They’re almost like artists. In fact, the very best of them are artists. And artists work best alone where they can control an inventions design without a lot of other people designing it for marketing or some other committee. I don’t believe anything really revolutionary has been invented by committee. If you’re that rare engineer who’s an inventor and also an artist, I’m going to give you some advice that might be hard to take. That is advice is: work alone. You’re going to be best able to design revolutionary products and features if you’re working on your own. Not on a committee. Not on a team.” – Quiet, The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking by Susan Cain.
Right now what I struggle with is the idea of working alone; that though I enjoy working alone I also like sharing; I like mind mapping and the release.
I like being credited but not lionized for what I do. And though I do like sharing, tearing apart and cross-propagating ideas, my preference isn’t the group:
“– Group brainstorming makes people feel attached. A worthy goal, so long as we understand that social glue, as opposed to creativity, is the principal benefit.”- Quiet, The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking by Susan Cain.
Dear Me, work will never be done. Make time for play, love too.
Dear Me, When it isn’t right, you can leave. Don’t stay because of history.
Dear Me, you can filter what you eat, but don’t filter release. Your wants, desire and dreams.
Dear Me, let it go. Give your ideas a chance to grow.