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A letter to my younger self...

A letter to my younger self as we launch YourStory.

A blank page and a keyboard for my companion. I’m unsure where to start. Your story is just beginning. You are full of optimism - about to sit with thousands of people in therapy rooms, classrooms, boardrooms and at times, hospital rooms. People tell you your optimism is naive and will fade. 3 decades on I am happy to tell you it never does.

You will step forward to the flashing machine of Life with your coin nervously in your hand, hoping it will deliver reward and beauty instead of disappointment and heartache - missing the fine print that guarantees anyone who chooses to play, both. Overthinking seductively offers players a deck chair, but letting go of your coin is the only way to see what’s next. 

Listening to suffering and struggle is not the burden others tell you it will be. In fact the discomfort people would do anything not to voice - finally faced, only reveals that what we have desperately tried to hide from others is all we all really have in common. For those with the courage to walk through your door it is like emerging from a long, lone journey at a clearing in the darkness to rest, only to see the soft glow of hundreds of other lanterns. Here, a wall of fatigued defences finally gives way to wisdom you cannot imagine.

You will take on roles and projects that scare you most because it is better than being alone with the thought that you could have done better. It will never feel enough. You will write your first international journal article sitting in a historic field in Woodstock, New York, publish a new model of therapy, and commercialise mental health technology. The stigma of mental health frustrates you so deeply you create the World’s Biggest Mental Health Check in in proactive defiance. 

The machine learning of tens of thousands of conversations turns out to be an incredible teacher. You see leaders, lawyers, entrepreneurs and athletes confidently on the news at night, knowing quietly that they struggled to get out of bed that day. They teach you, like an athlete knows, that muscles only get stronger from a thousand small tears. 

Mistakes hit you hard, lost lives even harder. You will learn too late that the only way to be less impacted by the flaws of others is to make peace with your own. When people let you down it stings, but only a fraction of the sting of letting yourself down. You’ll learn that tears and courage are not mutually exclusive. When you mess up, pay the toll fee. Blaming others is a snooze button that will keep going off and you can't Afterpay vulnerability. 

There are nights you can’t sleep, but never, ever, a night you didn’t feel humbled. Honoured by the learning from so many stories. You should try one day, if you can, find a way to share the privilege. It’s YourStory, and it's made all the more whole by theirs.


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