Rachael Kirkconnell: Postcards to my younger self
Written by: Rachael Kirkconnell
Dear 24-year-old Rachael,
The month before you leave for the show, enjoy your anonymity, and feel confident in who you are. You know yourself and no one can take that away from you. I’d say to be prepared for the most difficult year of your life, but not much will be able to prepare you.
You did something incredible. Once-in-a-lifetime. You put yourself out there, which we know is difficult for you. You stepped out of your comfort zone and you did it in front of millions of people. For what felt like a split second, you weren’t lost about your place in this huge world and you learned more about yourself than you ever have.
You met the love of your life, and you began planning for your future together. Your life felt like a dream you didn’t want to wake up from, or rather you wanted to fast-forward so you could start living your new life with your person. Until you couldn’t, because he wasn’t your person anymore. Stay with me, it gets better.
Before this, things were relatively comfortable inside your small bubble in Cumming, Georgia. The usual places felt safe, the people you’ve known your whole life felt familiar.
You see, ignorance can be bliss, until it’s not.
You fucked up, and your lack of education is going to teach you (and the world) lessons about impact, understanding, love, pain, growth, and change. And you’re going to learn these lessons in the most painful way possible.
Before you freak out, I want you to know that you’re going to walk away from this a better person, but before you can get to the lesson at the end of the journey, you’re going to struggle.
You’re about to enter the darkest time of your life. You’re going to question your integrity, what you believe in and who you even are.
Your relationship with your person is going to take a hit, and you’re going to be apart for what feels like forever.
You’re going to want to isolate yourself from the people you care about because you don’t want to bring them down with you.
But here’s my advice to you, lean into the people that love you and see you for you. All they want to do is see you be happy. Cry with your sister, let your mom take care of you, call your best friends and let them be there for you.
You will have the opportunity to make things right, heal, and become the woman we are today. But now it’s time for you to wipe your tears and get to work. You have to take accountability for your mistakes and deeply understand how your choices impact others. Not only do you have to recognize your privilege, but work to understand how said privilege functions. This is a life-long commitment and there is always more work to be done. You have to sit, reflect, and make actionable plans to show up as a better version of yourself than the one you were the day before.
It’ll hurt to read many things that falsely outline who you are as a person, but they are worth digging into. And it probably doesn’t hurt as much as those you hurt around you for what they saw. This isn’t just about you, this is much bigger than us. You are not the victim.
You’ll soon realize that your identity and self worth isn’t defined by anyone else’s point of view, but rather by your own and those closest to you, as well as the actions you take from here on out.
I know this road sounds painful and messy, but it’s leading you to a beautiful place. You’re going to come out of this in-tune with yourself and what is happening around the world, connected to yourself and your beliefs, and aware of the power of your impact. You can make a difference, even if you help just one person in the right direction, you can make a difference.
You and your person will find your way back to each other. This time around, you’ll be even more in love and committed to each other than ever. You’ll teach each other many things, but most importantly that you aren’t put on this earth to live for others, but for God.
Dear 16-year-old Rachael,
Right now, the world feels really big and staying close to what feels familiar may sound like the right choice. While your comfort zone may feel safe, follow that curiosity you’ve always carried in you. It’s scary, but it will be good for you later in life.
Go ahead and try new things, meet new people and travel as much as you can. Expose yourself to what exists around you, this will bring you so much perspective to how your choices impact others, and even what you can do to help those around you.
You’re probably sitting around wondering what your crush is doing and if his friends think you’re cool. Yes, I know, going to all his football games feels like the most important thing right now but believe me, you’ll wish you wouldn’t have missed out on family dinners and game nights – those things really matter.
I know you think that because another girl in your class is pretty, you can’t possibly be pretty too, but that is just not true. There is enough room for everyone to be beautiful, that includes you. Do not let it affect your confidence, and do not let this cause you to talk down to yourself. You don’t have thick blonde hair, you don’t have big boobs, you don’t have perfect teeth, but that doesn’t mean you are any less. You’ll see when you’re older that what really matters is who you are on the inside, the impact you make in the world, and how you treat others. Beauty is far more important within.
Hold your friends really close, you have the chance to create life-long memories with girls that will be there for you through the best times and the worst times. Find time to be more selfless and show up for the people in your life that need you, whether that means being the shoulder your best friend can cry on, or participating in more enriching activities around your community.
Stand up for yourself and the people that you care about. Any time spent comparing yourself to others is time well wasted. Cherish this time you can spend figuring yourself out but don’t be too hard on yourself, here’s a little secret: nobody really has it all figured out, as much as it seems like that at times.
Dear 10-year-old Rachael,
Being weird isn’t really a bad thing. I know that you probably feel like you have to hide who you really are because you don’t want others to make fun of you, but trust me, the people that love you will love you because of your weirdness, or as I like to say, your uniqueness, lean into that and stop trying to fit in.
You’ve always dreamt of doing something different when you grow up, and guess what? Those dreams come true. You get to work with amazing people around the world and have a platform where you can just be yourself. You are so blessed.
Your road there won’t be easy, but you will have the strongest support system to remind you of who you are along the way no matter what others might say about you.
Oh, by the way … have you seen our boyfriend? He is SO handsome and smart and funny and kind and caring and fun and everything we have ever wanted…you just might get your happily ever after.
I like to think you’d be very proud of who we are today. Always remember to show yourself love and positivity. I love you.