Dear 14 Year Old Me
Kristi Harrison is 22 years old and from the UK. She wrote me and told me about a project that she is working on for her friend who is battling stage IV breast cancer. She set up a foundation called Life Changes Foundation, they are starting fundraising in January 2013 (they are currently working on a website, for now she is communicating via their Facebook page http://www.facebook.com/lifechangesfoundation).
Her current project is called ‘Dear 14 Year Old Me’. This is a handwritten letter project where they asked participants to write a letter to their 14 year old self. I wrote my letter. I didn’t over think it before I wrote it, but now that I sent it in I am thinking about it more.
What would you really tell your 14 year old self? I don’t think I would ever tell myself that I was going to have cancer. Seems selfish? Maybe… if you live life with a day looming ahead of you that will cause you a lot of heartache and make you really sick, would you warn yourself? Would you stop yourself from making stupid mistakes? From your most embarrassing moment? I figure it is a bit like the Butterfly Effect. One small change takes you away from who you become. Thus my letter to self (ok, I tell myself to go buy stock, a little less altruistic, but it wouldn’t be me without a little silly mixed in):
I don’t know if I would really want anything to change about my life. I have certainly made my fair share of mistakes, still do, but those are the pieces and parts that have made me into who I am today. Do I think I could be someone better? Perhaps, but I need to be happy with being me. Do I strive to be a better person? Absolutely.
I work in nonprofit higher education because it fulfills a need in me to be a part of change and knowing I help make a difference in many people’s lives. I am on the board of an organization that influences women to get careers in STEM and supports women in technology. I plan on getting more involved with local charities in the coming year and I finally passed the one year mark that allows me to volunteer at the cancer hospital once I can squeeze it into my schedule. This is hopefully just the tip of iceberg Mandi.
This makes me think more about what I can do in my future to help the lives of others, rather than what I would really change about my past.
Coincidentally, I came across an article earlier this evening that addressed the topic that was already on my mind (for those sensitive to serious language, don’t read it, it has very strong language) 6 Harsh Truths That Will Make You a Better Person. Although I fully agree with this article, there are way too many people focused on what life did to them rather than what they can do to improve lives for those around them — or making the small changes that will help them become a better person.
But here’s what everyone needs to know, and what many of you can’t accept:
“You” are nothing but the fruit.
Nobody cares about your dirt. “Who you are inside” is meaningless aside from what it produces for other people.
He challenges everyone:
So how about this: one year. The end of 2013, that’s our deadline. Or a year from whenever you read this. While other people are telling you “Let’s make a New Year’s resolution to lose 15 pounds this year!” I’m going to say let’s pledge to do anything — add any skill, any improvement to your human tool set, and get good enough at it to impress people.
But the key is, I don’t want you to focus on something great that you’re going to make happen to you (“I’m going to find a girlfriend, I’m going to make lots of money …”). I want you to purely focus on giving yourself a skill that would make you ever so slightly more interesting and valuable to other people.
I am game. Are you?
I would also love to see some letters from ladies I know. If you would like Kristi’s contact information shoot me an email (my email address is on my About page).
One thing that I have learned about the breast cancer community is that women and families come together in every valiant and selfless way possible. It helps me know that there is a lot of good in the world..