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  • Shauna Harrison (@shauna_harrison)

To My Younger Self: You're Perfect

To my younger self:

Sighhhh. I want to give you all the insight to the relationship roller coaster you will be on with your dad. I want to give you ALL the warnings. I want to give you all the answers. However, per the good graces of the Universe, I can’t. I cannot give you the crystal ball that you will so innocently wish for. I need you to be present in those moments, no matter how painful they are. Every single struggle, every heartbreak, every mistake served a purpose. Not what you want to hear, I know. I assure you, though, that it will all be all right. You do your best. And that is perfect.

To my unborn, in a fertility clinic self:

You have no idea right now (and won’t for a long time), but you were crafted. You were selected. Your parents wanted you so badly that they were willing to do anything to have you. You will later wish you could thank the anonymous man to whom you owe your DNA (+life) as much as you do for the woman who birthed you. But, right now, in this moment, you are perfect.

To my 2.5 year old self:

Thankfully you won’t possess the ability to remember anything at this age, but the breakup of your parents is a blessing. No matter what happens between them, you are perfect.

To my 8 year old self:

I know you wouldn’t listen to me even if you could, but despite what your grandmother tells you (and your dad sits idly by to listen to) no, you do not need to go on a diet. Please don’t carry that with you for the rest of your life. You are perfect.

To my 18 year old self:

You will write the first profound piece about your dad as part of your college application essay. You will say things in that essay about his character that are so pure and heartfelt that they will stick with you forever. Hold onto the concepts; do not be distracted by the reality of the details. The things you think are facts will later feel like illusions at best {and delusions at worst}. But, still, you are perfect.

P.S. I still want to jump up and down for you for getting into Stanford!

To my 21 year old self:

Believe your dad when he tells you he’s proud of you at your graduation. Believe it. Live in it. Bask in its greatness. That is one of the most seemingly real moments of your entire relationship with him. You are perfect.

To my 27 year old self:

Good lord I just want to send you hugs. You will learn things at 27 about how you were actually conceived that will rock you to your core (remember that fertility clinic?) You will hear the info, but you won’t even begin to know how to process it. You will try to talk to your dad about it and he will have nothing to say. That’s ok. Even if you don’t know how to wrap your brain around it, just know, you are perfect.

To my 32 year old self:

You’ve had multiple graduations at this point. Your dad will not be at your PhD graduation. Yes, I know he wasn’t at your dissertation defense either. Don’t take it personally. You are perfect. Actually, you are Dr. Perfect.

To my 35 year old self:

You will experience, simultaneously, the most gut-wrenching moment of your relationship with your father and also the most prominent moment of you being true to your heart. You are not that young, but what your father does on that fateful day in 2015 will take you back to every hurtful moment that has ever transpired over the course of your life. It will take you back to being the little girl who wanted nothing more than to be accepted, to be loved, to be told she was good enough. Technology has given your father the ability to do what a lot of society does: be a coward behind a screen. His email is cold, it is hurtful, and it will make you question your entire sense of being. You read things that no daughter should ever read from her father.

But, you respond in the classiest, most eloquent and elegantly written piece you will likely write in your life. You correct him on every misspoken word about your character, you shut down his ability to disempower you and his attempt to disown you. You remain firm. And yet, you somehow remain loving, respectful and true to your beliefs in love and hope. You are absolutely at your most perfect.

To my 37 year old self:

You try to be ok knowing that the only communication you’ve had with your father since that fateful day a few years prior is via his lawyers. You try to take it in stride that he values money over your relationship. You try not to take it personal. You try to go on about your life pretending it doesn’t hurt, pretending that it doesn’t loom in the back of your head. You try to tell yourself that you are perfect, but you are broken inside. This is also the year that your father will pass away. You will hold onto those last words you wrote him in your email response. Because that letter that you wrote was perfect. And you, even at your most broken state, are perfect.

To my 39 year old self:

Disentangling the anger and pain and hope and relief are a lot to manage, especially while your career is where it is. You are filled with questions of identity and belonging. You find some solace in your new home. Soak that in. You also, completely unexpectedly will find some hope of connection in the most surprising of ways. You will learn that you were not the only one born to the man you have never been able to thank for your DNA. In fact, you will learn that there are many of you. You are no longer an only child. You will feel like this life’s story you tell is not even your own. You will feel confusion of a sort you have only watched on television. But, amidst the entanglement and disentanglement, you are perfect.

I {so badly} wish I could tell you more than this.

Just know that it couldn’t be truer that life is not perfect. And although I know I’ve told you repeatedly that you are perfect, I wish you the wisdom to realize what is actually “perfect” about you at every one of these moments (and all the others I left out) is that these moments couldn’t have been more imperfect, but you just being true to you in each of them is as close to perfection as one could ever hope to come.

Love for now,


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