Cary Martin Shelby
Living my Best Life by Choosing to Honor Myself
Updated: Feb 27, 2022
Today, on my 40th birthday, I have fought the urge to tell my younger self what I should have done, or who I should have been. I have instead given myself the absolute best birthday gift—a trophy exclusively in my honor. To commemorate this special occasion, I have written the below acceptance speeches to my younger and future selves. Sharing these speeches will hopefully reveal that we do not have to wait on others to celebrate who we are. We are free to do so in whatever way we see fit.
To my younger self. I would not be here without you. You lived your best life by carving out beautiful spaces of peace amid repeated tides of chaos. You built impermeable towers of success from the scraps of nothingness that the world continually threw at your feet. You even had the audacity to generate unrelenting joy, which naturally spread to your children and to countless others within your vicinity. Guiding principles of justice and equity ignited your many journeys. You chose to hold on to your integrity even when it felt illogical to do so.
Your physical being could have perished. Learning to prioritize your physical health has saved your life on multiple occasions. Your spirit could have crumbled under the weight of crushing pain—and the burden of the limited notions of what others have expected of you. Nurturing your mental and spiritual well-being has taken center stage in recent years. You have undertaken the arduous task of healing from childhood trauma which sometimes feels like rewiring an intricate machine that has been viciously ripped apart. Even in your darkest moments, you accessed that eternal spark of hope which sometimes floats within the spaces that we cannot see. Love defined the essence of who you have always been. You felt it in your heart even as a young child. Despite their efforts to beat it out of you, you held on to it for the past four decades. For all of these extraordinary feats, you have lived a fabulous life under forty. I will forever remain in awe of you.
To my future self. It is time for you to be that dragon. Not the kind of dragon who does not know her own powers, or one whose powers are defined by the restricted conceptions of the masses. But the kind of celestial dragon who optimizes her powers in a way that parallels your visions of light and love. Reveal to your daughter what is truly possible. Create movements that reverberate to daughters across the world. Here are some integral lessons that will guide you along this journey:
1. Assume that you are 10 times more gifted than your initial assessments of yourself. The trauma is a potent poison which has programmed your brain to undervalue yourself. The rewiring that you have done is nothing short of extraordinary. Keep going, my dear love. You still have much work to do.
2. Fully lean into your intuition about people, places, and opportunities. Your intuition has yet to fail you. It was the catalyst that enabled you to survive and persevere. It is now the driving force that will propel you to new heights of thriving. Internal and external self-doubt still lingers. Continue to silence the noise. Tap into who you are destined to become.
3. Pursue the dreams that seem unfathomable. You sometimes recoil from these dreams because there is no clear map for bringing them into fruition. This is where your faith must push you towards those first steps. Luckily, you have built in constant reminders that are not easily ignored. Keep building brick by brick. You are just getting started.
4. Indulge in all the good things that you previously thought were out of reach. Travel to the unseen corners of the world. Connect with people and communities that bring out the best in you. Pamper each of your senses with opulent extravagance. And be unapologetically extra! You have lost a lot of living in those younger years, but it is never too late to make up for lost time. Let these next decades be filled with endless bounds of vibrant abundance.
I have no doubt that you will blossom in ways that you have yet to envision. Cheers to a fruitful life lived and to an even better one that lies ahead.
Happy birthday to me!