Letter to a Younger Self

Letter to a Younger Self
by Rev. Julie Barnes

Peace be with you, though you seek no peace. 

Peace, my little love, is not just for stoners and sellouts. 

In your fierce devotion to rebellion and epic change, you crave destabilization and paradigm crumble instead of acceptance and chamomile tea. 

But you will soften without losing your passion, dear one. 

Don’t fret so hard over potential pitfalls. You are constitutionally incapable of selling out or even fully buying in. You can trust your Self to adventure and learn from it without being polluted. 

Your soul is as incorruptible as it is incorrigible, so I wish you rest from being always on guard. I wish you freedom from your fear that pushes away friends. Their appeasing choices will not rub off on you. They will not knock you from your true path with the promise of accolades or sanitized belonging.

I wish you not the peace of complacency nor of satisfied consumption. Not the peace of acquiescence nor the peace of mistaking this world for all there is. Not the peace of friends who love you without challenging you nor a partner who needs you more than she can behold you.

I wish you the peace of recognizing and tempering your own power in service of the Good—Plato’s form of the Good (and yes, it’s more nuanced in real life, but you will only rest in dedication to the ideal).

I wish you the peace of fellow travelers who laugh with their whole bodies and feed you gladly from their soup pots and do not shy to read you their poems out loud. 

I wish you the peace of being devoured by another with the right ratios of tenderness and urgency, of educative friction and blissful melting ease. 

I wish you the peace of loving your Self without preciousness but with virile acceptance—an understated but steely devotion to your dreams and intuitive murmurings of your heart. 

I wish you the peace of battling less and listening more, of embracing the 10,000 different ways to live without defending or forsaking your own.

The belonging you crave—belonging of the guts in the fire among others, feeling the heart-first leaping into the creative shared unknown—will be given to you again and again in pockets. But it doesn’t abide. Don’t worry, though, little dervish; you are Beloved. You belong always to the unseen family of things. (That probably sounds ethereal to you, but truly, you don’t have to fight so hard for your place at any table).

Your path is ours and you will make it by being and living with integrity, not by grand heroic effort. 

You are righteous, young one, in the best and worse sense of that hot word. Lay off the high horse, love, and just be who you are. 

There’s no assimilating you.

I wish you’d sooner get to the point of letting life open and sculpt you instead of relying so instinctively on your own wit and stubbornness. But heartbreak will teach you. No amount of hindsight wisdom could spare you the shattering. Compassion will come from the wrecks, and embracing it will be your best adult lesson so far. 

This peace will come with living years, with your efforts, with repeated humblings, and with Grace, which you will learn to recognize more quickly and praise more full-heartedly. 

I would not ever exchange your passionate intensity for a day of buttery likability. You remain a central guide and power source for so many of my doings even now. 

Don’t worry, child, it’s all good. Trust your path. Orient yourself now more fully away from tearing down and towards the impossibly succulent and rich work of creating. 

Together, we’ll make the new world to which you already belong. §




Rev. Julie Barnes, LMHC practices holistic mental health counseling, yoga/movement therapy, and interfaith ministry. She founded Same Boat Consulting to offer innovative training, clinical supervision, and accompaniment to community health programs nationally and internationally. A passionate writer, mover, and activist, she loves facilitating conversations that deepen awareness, strengthen relationships, and promote change across differences. Reach her at sameboatconsulting{at}gmail.com