A Letter to my 20 Year-Old Self

To my 20 year-old self,

You entered this world and body an incredibly selective human with your attention and love. You handpicked those you felt were deserved of both. It was such an automatic and effortless response that you believed this behavior to be you, your personality. In some ways, this behavior made you feel safe and in control. And possibly, this selectiveness saved your life at times. Others perceived you as cold and unloving, which too became part of your story. For many years, the choice of being selective closed off your heart to life and love as a defense mechanism rooted in fear. A closed heart gave you a veil of laziness or a veil of excuses to hide behind so that you could justify not showing up or dealing with the situation or relationship. When actually you had no idea how to love because you never experienced love. At this moment in time, in your 20s, you still believe love has conditions and strings attached, so you give love similarly.

Consequently, I am here to say at 43 years old, to truly receive unconditional love, you must too give love without strings, judgements and limitations. To truly give love the way we were meant to love: without fear, without veils, without excuses. I once heard that our “soul is covered with a thousand veils;” and I believe that these veils are woven with a thousand stories that we tell ourselves about every situation and relationship we experience. I am thankful you are beginning the process of removing each veil to find our soul, our heart so that soon you will be able to love wholly and completely.

Throughout your 30s, with the birth of a beautiful, loving baby girl, you will realize, you are not your stories, you are not other people's stories, and you are not your thoughts or your history or your parent’s history. In your 40s, you practice inserting more love in all situations by practicing forgiveness, compassion and kindness in order to keep our heart open to all. And to my delight and relief, the more I love the more I am loved. As the fears dissipates with each veil lifted, all that is left is love because I love myself.

Remember, when you come upon those situations that automatically cause you to pull back your attention, your love and run, I beg you to stick, stand still and love without fear. How? By showing up, shedding fear, telling yourself that you can handle anything life gives you, and by simply loving with an open heart. When all else fails, default to love! Why will you believe me now, after all the unloving experiences you have had thus far, because down deep, you know that you are loved by many, you love yourself and you are loved by God.

Over the next 23 years, life will be hard at times, people will come and go, and our heart will be broken in more pieces than imaginable, but I want you to know that you will be fine, you will succeed, but most importantly, you will be loved. Therefore, I am giving you permission to let go of fear and reach out with both hands toward life and love.

Love always,

Your 43 year-old self

Rufus Leon