Notes To My Younger Self
By: Kat Reinhert Dear 13 year old self,
Being on the gymnastics team might feel like you need to look good in a tight, ill-fitting leotard as people watch you jump up and twirl around or swing from bar to bar – but really, what you need to be is strong. Even though it’s hard, try to focus on the work and the joy in learning new tricks instead of whether or not people are looking at you. I promise, whether or not you get a good score or if you fall down and fail, show up the next day for you. You don’t need to purge your dinner because you think you are fat. You don’t need to overeat because you’re stressed. You are enough.
Dear 19 year old self,
Well, now, you’re in college. And you’ve decided to pursue music. Specifically, jazz singing. And you’ve moved to NYC. I know it feels like you’re not good enough to hang with all these amazing musicians you are meeting. I know you’re working really hard to understand complicated musical ideas like improvisation and tri-tone substitutions. I know you cut off all your hair and a bum on the street mistook you for a boy. But you are beautiful. You are smart. You are driven. Don’t use your femininity to define your art. And don’t think that people are only working with you – and will only work with you – if you are thin and all put together perfectly. You don’t need to be perfect. Don’t date people who manipulate you. Date the kid who sees you for who you are. He doesn’t care that you’re almost a foot taller than he is. Don’t have so much pride that you can’t ask your parents for money because you’re hungry. Being skinny isn’t the answer. And when you go home, you don’t need to overeat and purge because your home life is stressful. Weight is transitive. It doesn’t define who you are or what you are worth. And purging really isn’t good for singing. And you’re a singer, so just stop.
You are enough.
Dear 27 year old self,
You’re engaged now. And I know he has the body of someone in a magazine. But that doesn’t mean you need to have the same image. You don’t need to be perfect even though it feels like you do. I see you looking at yourself every night wondering how you can lose weight. I see you hating your body. But I also see you letting go of some of that. You’re back in school now and about to embark on a new adventure. You’re going to learn so much and you’re going to walk away from something very important. And it will be the best decision you make. Because you’ll start making music. You’ll go on tour. But it doesn’t have to be perfect. Even though you think it does, and everyone around you for the next ten years will make it seem like it does. But it doesn’t. Perfection is an illusion. It ruins experiences and lives. It stops you from doing what you love.
You are enough.
Dear 37 year old self,
You’re divorced. And you’ve finally decided to figure out who you are. Because you almost lost yourself. You will write some truly heart-wrenching songs (well, they are heart-wrenching for you). You will finally see a therapist. Together, with some friends, you will heal your heart and your soul and start down the road to becoming your authentic self. You will still struggle with your body image but it will no longer control or define you. You will have bad days and good days. But you will never go back. Because you have learned to love yourself. You will change your love of exercise to a love of being healthy. You will wear clothes you never thought you could. You will find joy and self-expression through style. Regardless of whether your pants fit easy or tight. You will fall in love with someone who loves you for who you are inside. Who sees you. Who celebrates all that you are – in both your struggles and your triumphs. Who holds up a mirror, but doesn’t judge you. And you will love him in the same way because you love yourself in the same way.
You are enough.
Hello, 40 year old self!
You’re still having days where you don’t feel good about how you look, but they are few and far between. There are so much more important things to worry about. You have a PhD, you got a job at a major university teaching voice and songwriting. You have become and continue to work on being the authentic self you seek. And it matters. Oh it matters. You have become that which you sought. You have a finance. Your family loves you. Your students threw you a graduation party and wrote you the most amazing letters that brought you to tears. You have a wedding to plan. You have music to write and venues to play. You have someone in your life that you are going to walk alongside for a very long time. You’ve healed most of the wounds, although sometimes they re-open and you need to stitch them back up, but that’s ok. You’re ok. There are just so many more important things to work with in your life that have nothing to do with the size of your thighs. No one cares. Will you have days where you look in the mirror and hate what you see? Of course? Will you always strive to be healthy? Of course. Will you cringe when you get yourself weighed at the doctor and the number just feels like failure? Of course. Will you forever have days where it feels like you’re not enough? Of course. Will you doubt your purpose? Of course. Will you wonder when enough is enough? Of course. Are there still a million questions you don’t have answers to? Yup. But that’s awesome. Because it means you have a whole lot more to live for and figure out!
Besides, these things no longer define you. They are simply part of life and you can see them for what they are and let go. Because YOU ARE ENOUGH.
About the Author:
An intriguing singer with a vision toward the future, Kat Reinhert enchants listeners with her original songs, signature style and insightful storytelling. Kat is passionate about teaching voice and educating students in the craft of songwriting and creative original music and is a sought after voice pedagogue, clinician and educator.