The first sentence I wrote in a love letter to my younger self said:

You will spend most of your life believing you are unlovable.

My chest became heavy as the words appeared on the screen. It hurt; not a little but the shocking, sit-back-and-suck-your-breath-in kind of hurt. I pulled my fingers away from the keys, but I couldn’t turn away. It was the first time I consciously recognized how profoundly I’d disconnected from myself.

It was also the first glimmer of a brand-new life.

I spent time with my words. I rolled them around in my fingers and allowed myself to reflect on events that may have caused this belief that I was unlovable. I emailed them to a few friends who knew about my “Love Letters” project. “Look what I found,” I said. “I had no idea.”

“Love Letters” was accidental. I had convinced a few of my more successful girlfriends to share things they wish they had known when they were girls. I wanted them to write it in the context of a love letter to their younger selves. I planned to post them on my blog as a form of inspiration and viral mentorship, but before long, I began receiving texts and emails that began with:

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