Let’s be real, we all have times in our past which are memorable for being tenacious and empowering, healthy and renewing, painful and difficult. What if we could go back in time and show that past version of ourselves the encouragement, love, and empathy we needed, no matter the moment? What if we could give our past selves the advice we sought back then?
If you had to write a letter to your younger self, what would you say?
LSU College of Science researchers who share a love of science, mathematics, and technology, who are in different stages of their careers, share with their “young selves” words of encouragement, glimpses into the future, and wisdom that can only be delivered from hindsight.
Dr. Zakiya Wilson-Kennedy, Assistant Dean for Diversity and Inclusion and Associate Professor of Research in Chemistry Education, kicks off our “Letter to My Younger Self” series.
To my younger self,
As I sit here, I am reflecting on the world and the pathways of my life. Being a woman of color, I never imagined the roads that I would travel, and it amazes me to see the opportunities that have arisen. And yet I haven’t always been adventurous and have in fact often been more cautious than I have been courageous. If given a chance, I would tell you:
Be Courageous. Don’t be afraid to step out of your comfort zone. The world is a very large place, and you are only limited by your imagination. So imagine BIG THINGS! Don’t be afraid to DREAM BIG THINGS and then WORK to achieve them.
Own who you are. You are wonderfully and marvelously you. Don’t waste time trying to be like others. Own who you are and rock that without apology. You are the answer to one of the world’s problems. If you spend your time trying to be someone else, that problem will not be addressed. So, honor the creation that you are by being who you are.
Find your voice and use it. You are an introvert, and being an introvert isn’t a bad thing. But it also doesn’t mean that you have to have to be silent. You are a reflective and deep thinker. Find your own voice. Get comfortable with using it because the answers to some of the problems that you will seek to address require thoughtful reflection and quiet action.
Trailblazing ain’t easy! You don’t fit into boxes. You weren’t meant to fit into boxes aligned with others’ expectations. Recognize that this means that you walk and run on your own path. And sometimes you have to blaze your own trail.
Family First. Build and sustain relationships with your family. Don’t neglect your loves ones for anything or anybody. Work will always be there. And there will always be needs. But your family is your legacy. Don’t forgot it.
Work hard and play hard. You are driven and ambitious. Don’t neglect to enjoy your life as you pursue your passion and purpose. It is important to play hard and take care of yourself, even as you seek to care for others through your work.
Morals to Live By! Often it seems like honesty and integrity are morals of the past. Yet I am convinced that we reap what we sow. Be honest and operate with integrity at all times. This is the truest testament of leadership. There may be times when others seem to win while being dishonest and ruthlessly unjust. They should not serve as your examples. Instead treat others as you want to be treated with the integrity that you can be proud of exhibiting.
The Serenity Prayer. With serenity accept the things that you cannot change, with courage change the things that you can change, and with wisdom acknowledge the difference. Operate with these highest levels of excellence to do good works. Change the things that you can with grace and humility. And with grace and humility accept when things are beyond your reach and influence.
All in all, just know that great things lie ahead. Believe in yourself. You are well able to tackle each challenge that comes your way. Don’t give up and enjoy the ride, not focusing so much on the destination as your experiences along the way. Be bold, be courageous, and be spicy!
Your SPICY older self