your nineteen-year-old self

do you ever wonder if you would have had the guts to keep going if you had known what was around the bend?

when I was 19, my biggest fears were: 1) not having an impact 2) being even more disconnected from my family than I was, given that I was thousands of miles away 3) weight gain, because I had battled disordered eating for years 4) worsening mental health or worsening disordered eating 5) jobs that would suck my soul and 6) surgery, because doctors also scared me.

of course, many of those things happened, and then some.

this is a blurry picture of me from my first year at the University of St Andrews, Scotland. I was wild, confused, and shy. I loved to learn, but people terrified me. I had been homeschooled my whole life and was super sheltered, but didn’t want to admit how sheltered I actually was.

I just wanted to be brave, but I often felt so, so scared.

sometimes, I just want to head back to that past self and give her a big hug and tell her she’s okay. that she’ll figure out who her friends are. that good conversations are coming.

I’d tell her to enjoy those nights where she snuck into ruined castles and cathedrals and drank wine with friends under the stars.

I’d tell her I appreciate how much attention she paid in lectures.

I’d tell her she was doing a good job.

I’d tell her to never stop being stubborn, to keep going. study hard, climb those mountains, and don’t be so hard on yourself.

I’d tell her that everyone works a shitty job or two and that what life looks like for a few years on paper in no way defines or delineates wildness, strength, creativity, or intelligence.

‘and girl,’ I’d say, ‘you DO NOT need to worry so much about your grades. I promise you they’ll be fine. they’re gonna be awesome, actually.’

I’d also tell her she as no idea how many pull-ups she is capable of or how many miles she can walk. I’d tell her to stop worrying about her jean size and to keep cranking out pushups.

she had no idea what she was capable of.

what would you tell your nineteen-year-old self? what do you think that person needed to hear? DM me on Instagram or shoot me an email at I want to hear your thoughts and your stories.

I also want to take a moment and tell whomever’s reading this–especially younger readers–that I’m here. if you ever need to talk about life’s ups and downs, fears and challenges, I’m here and your story matters. I know email is obsolete these days, but hit me up at or shoot me a DM.

I’d love to hear what you’d say to that former self and I’d love to share those thoughts with others (but only if you’re comfortable with that).

life is confusing and, when I was nineteen, I really could have done with a 25-year-old writer and climber lady who would listen, understand, and only offer advice when I asked for it. (I was a stubborn jackass.) so I’m paying it forward and sending y’all love.

(also, I want to give credit to Devon Schindler for this idea. she’s been doing some incredible work, which you should definitely check out on LinkedIn. recently, she’s asked people to share their 15-year-old self’s aspirations and donated money as a way to honor the dreams of others and promote women in STEM.)

this Thursday, I’m holding another Instagram live stream festival. this past week, I took a break from virtual festival-running so I could hit the mental refresh button, catch up on some sleep, read Alice in Wonderland, and also write some poetry. we’ll be exploring the twin themes of energy & heritage.

the idea of ‘what would you tell your nineteen-year-old self’ really ties into these themes for me. while caring for heritage is a collective endeavour, our personal experience of heritage is incredibly individual. it’s about our stories, about how we use our energy, and about how we care for the energy and resources of the earth. and of course, caring for earth and caring for others starts with learning to care for and challenge ourselves.

I hope you share your stories with me and I hope to see you at the festival this upcoming Thursday.

much love,
Emily Lynn

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