An Open Letter to Me When I Was Younger

The things I would tell you but first, how do I address this? To self; Hey self? Hey girl or Dear Jess? I don’t really know how to get that part started so I will just say this letter is to Me when I was younger.

Dear You,

With life’s twists and turns, running a new business, finishing college, ups and downs, I feel like you could have truly used a letter like this. But then again, how would it have been if you knew everything that was going to happen? Would you have been more prepared? Could you have done things differently? Would that alter where you have ended up now? Because where you are now is nothing short of amazing!

If that’s the case then I wouldn’t tell you everything. I would be a little vague about who you would lose along the way and the grief you were going to face. I don’t know if anything could prepare someone for that, or if it would have changed things, but I know you and you would have tried everything that you could to alter that part, if you had known. Yes, we have a lot to talk about, you and I. 

Remember that girl Nicole on the high school yearbook staff with you? The one that loved the color pink and Britney Spears? The one who seemed completely opposite to you, well that turns out to be the most meaningful friendship that you will ever have. It’s a friendship that turns into being chosen family to one another and her family that comes along with her is pretty amazing. Also, in your adult life NO ONE will believe you that being on the yearbook staff in high school was actually a cool thing, so just don’t attempt too!

Three years into your college education you will change your major and as crazy as that seems and does prolong your years finishing your degree it is the right decision for you. You will feel relief and it’s one of the beginning steps to getting to the career you have now, because you trusted yourself. You followed your dreams and where your heart was leading you. One of your photographer professors will tell you that you are selling out when you announce that you want to be a Wedding Photographer, I am glad you didn’t listen to her and that you even had a good reply in front of the entire class. Again, you trusted yourself, and you will love where you end up. 

When you are twenty-one you will lose someone you thought would be alongside you for your entire life, your only sibling. I can’t tell you that you will be okay, because you won’t be. What I can tell you is that somehow, with a lot of determination, you will make it through. I can tell you that no matter how awful and unbearable it is, it will make you a better person. You will constantly feel as if you have no clue as to how you will live on, but you do. You will feel so uncomfortable at times that you feel like you are going to throw up, and in fact you actually do a couple of times. I know that it’s gross to picture but I wan’t to let you know because I want you to know that grief is not a straight path. Grief is not those 8-10 steps that everyone talks about, and if they are they sure as hell aren’t in any particular order. You walk your own path and in your own time. Trust yourself. Your parents have their own path and their own time of doing things as well. Give them space and don’t be to hard on them but never forget that you three are always there for each other. a letter to myself jessica ryan photography

A couple of years later, you’ll think your heart was broken by the person you had been dating for several years, but if you and I are being completely honest your heart had already been broken for a few years, and that was from everything you faced with your brother and then him passing away. Truthfully, after this breakup happened is only when you began to heal from the loss of your brother. This sounds backwards, I know, but this is because you finally gave majority of your time to yourself, you fought and you dug deep to ensure that you would not let this grief overtake you. You overcame and it is okay that it takes you almost two years to truly begin this.

Plus, I believe now that you needed this time to yourself to truly grow into the person that you are today because the man you would meet almost a year later would be your soulmate. Let me tell you, he is so damn amazing that you definitely needed that time to heal and fix yourself before meeting him! 😉 All kidding aside, you make each other better and your relationship is truly something you thank God everyday for. So when I say that you needed to fix yourself before meeting him that is only because I feel that he deserves your best self that you can be and give because he gives that to you. 

You will meet Dr. Oz, Matt Lauer, Sue Bryce and be in the same dressing room as Justin Bieber’s Mom in the matter of two weeks time. Even though Justin Bieber’s Mom would be popping her gum like crazy and upset that she was in the same dressing room as the non-famous people, you won’t let any of these things go to your head and in fact not a lot of people know this part about you.

You’ll get a tattoo. You will get that tattoo in honor of your brother a few days before your first deposition against some awful lawyers. You’ll do this deposition to help other people going through what your brother did and to help those peoples’ parents just like your parents. With the new tattoo comes some itching while it heals and in a way you are thankful of the reminder who you are there for, because this sounds odd but with every itch you feel during their ridiculous and awful questions you are reminded that you have a shield and the strength of two people to face them. They will make you cry, they will offend you, but you will be able to see the bigger picture.

You will fall in love with hiking and you will create a group called Her Hike Collective. You will bring women on hikes with you to build a community and empowerment. You have big plans for this group and you absolutely love doing this. When you began to hike and camp more with your fiancé is when you realized that you could do this on your own. It gives you the confidence to begin.

I believe that helping others and serving people well is important. Trust your heart when you want to give and never second guess yourself. This in turn makes you a better person and I believe you receive far more by giving to others than you ever do from taking. 

I have written a lot to you but I still feel as if I haven’t even begun to scratch the surface yet. I want you to know that now, at this time in our life, I feel like I am exactly where I am suppose to be. The business is growing, I love photographing couples and their wedding days’ and I am only a month away from marrying my soulmate. You are in good hands if you just remember to trust yourself. Trust that gut feeling because it turns out your intuition is pretty strong and you have gotten to this point in your life by trusting it.  

Your life now consists of giving back to others, serving your couples before, during and after their Wedding day, empowering women and introducing them to hiking, living with your soulmate and your two fur babies. Your life includes being a dog mom, a writer, runner, photographer, friend, fiancé, living in a small town and having Apple trees and Dogwood trees in your backyard. You attempt to be a good cook but know that you will always have your fiancé to actually cook something edible and tasty. Your Parents live an active lifestyle, they impress you everyday with their decisions and how they live their life together. As each day goes by you see their light slowly come back and I believe that our life improving and being fulfilling helps them.

Your life has turned into a life that is beautiful and it is because you never stopped looking up, you never gave up and you always hung on. So while you are doing all of that tough work, and I do believe it was truly work. While you are doing that heart wrenching work that you did because you just had a feeling in the pit of your stomach that you had to make it through, I am here to tell you that it’s all worth it. That is something that I think you could use the most, for me to tell you that it is all worth it. I am here to tell you, to never forget to look up, because if you could see it, today is a beautiful place to be.


Mea letter to myself jessica ryan photography