“Go Be You. No approval or permission needed. No explanation or apology given.”
-Me Now to Me Then
What’s one thing you would tell your younger self if you could? If you could somehow go back and engage with a previous version of yourself, what advice would you offer, what encouragement would you give, what wisdom would you impart?
Last summer, I stumbled upon a Jen Hatmaker podcast featuring Shauna Niequest. Sidenote: I once ugly cried uncontrollably in front of a very gracious Shauna Niequist in a Connecticut arena jam packed with women — and yes, it was as horrifying as it sounds.
Toward the end of the recording, Shauna offered advice for writers:
“Never write for a critic. Never write against what you’re afraid someone’s going to say about you before they say it. If you’re ever stuck, think of a person who loves you write their name at the top, and this is what I want to tell you.”
The Gifts That Come With Completely Mishearing Sage Advice
The “who loves you” part is important.
What’s funny is I was walking when I first listened to the podcast, I know exactly which traffic light I was waiting at in my neighborhood when I heard that sentence — only I didn’t hear it correctly.
I didn’t hear “think of a person who loves you.” Instead, I heard, “think of a person you that you love, write their name at the top, and this is what I want to tell you.”
I instantly thought, “that person I love whose name I want to write at the top of the page is me in my late teens and 20s.”
It came to me so quickly; I took a minute to pulse check a bit and see if I truly meant it.
I realized I did mean it — and I still do.
Lowering The Volume on Never Showing As We Are, Where We Are
When I get stuck, when I’m not sure what to write, I’m very aware that I’m writing to my younger self. That version of me who didn’t know she could put a Soft Never on thinking she could never just show up as is. That 20-something who spent far too much time performing, people-pleasing, qualifying, conforming, explaining, and apologizing.
I didn’t always do such a great job of loving her well back then, and there have been so many missed opportunities, hurts, and consequences because of that.
But I love the hell out of that girl now.
Together, she and I are going to heal.
So, I write her name at the top of the page — and this is the very first thing I want to tell her:
Go be you.
No approval or permission needed.
No explanation or apology given.
Today’s Soft Never
Let’s Soft Never the belief that we can never just show up as our authentic selves — or thinking that if we do show up as we are, we have to justify our actions or choices. Let us get to doing the very righteous business of being exactly who God created us to be, unabashedly and unapologetically.