Updated: Aug 7, 2020
First of all, I wanted to share with you the big news: I have started a lifestyle YouTube Channel called The Ellie Way! I've had so many requests from people to do this because if you've been following me for a long time, you'll know that I used to do quite a bit of lifestyle content. Well, it's back! And our first video went live on Monday the 6th, so I will leave a link to it below.
I think people with July birthdays should get a pass from all the craziness going on in the world. But maybe that’s just me being biased.
Hello everyone! This month’s issue is a little different from usual. I’m turning twenty this month, and I am feeling quite nostalgic. It actually started because I filmed a video when I was seventeen that was titled, Dear Ellie on your 20th birthday. I decided to click on it and watch it. Wow I was an angsty 17-year-old. I felt like I got punched in the face and slapped around by my younger self. I watched it on a day that I was feeling really depressed and really down and felt like I had no direction. It definitely felt like a wake-up call, don’t get me wrong. Somehow, even the angsty 17-year-old me knew exactly what I needed to hear for my 20th.
I have to say, I feel like a weight is being lifted off of my shoulders as I leave my crazy teenage years behind. The time of my life that I’m in right now, my dreams are changing, my plans are changing, everything has suddenly changed. It reminds me of this lyric from Sabrina Carpenter.
“Back to the beginning, I’m gonna hit rewind, chance to do it over and get it right this time. Life gives you pennies, turn them into dimes. I’m in the middle of starting over.”
I will elaborate on some, while others I believe it’s just right as it is simple. Some of them may have a testimony of what has changed in these regards, some of them I might still be learning.
It’s okay to fail.
“If you don’t learn to fail, you’re going to live a miserable life, so I really need you to figure this out. And I know you can, so if you have, congratulations.” - Ellie, Dear Ellie on your 20th birthday.
I struggled all throughout my life with the idea of failure. Failing was not a stepping stone for me, it wasn’t how Thomas Edison said it was. I failed a lot, and I made a lot of mistakes (as every single teenager does), and I beat myself up for it on a constant basis. If I failed or wasn’t good at something, I knew inside that I needed to move on and try again, but it didn’t matter. I would stop and think the most awful things about myself. This happened especially when I felt like I couldn’t please other people. I equated not being able to make everyone happy with failure. Later on, I realized that it’s not related at all. You control how you react, your own thoughts, your own feelings, but you can’t control how other people feel. You can’t change how other people feel or how they view you or the situation.
I learned to embrace failure and when I finally stopped beating myself up over the littlest things, I realized that failure is a stepping stone, failure is experience, failure is the opportunity to find a new perspective on a certain situation or a new outlook on life. Failure is the best thing for you to do. It expands your worldview if you allow it to. When I fail, I actually get excited about learning something new, because I love to learn. Failure is a learning opportunity.
Keep your routine.
“Don’t tell mom, but having a routine is definitely the top five things she’s ever taught you. Keep one, even if it changes, just always have one.” - Ellie, Dear Ellie on your 20th birthday.
This is true. Everything 17-year-old Ellie said about having a routine was actually really good. And she’s right- I don’t always love the fact that my mom has a million solutions and though I’m not proud of it, I have had a tendency to buck against her advice. I’ve gotten so much better at following her advice, so yay! The best thing my mom taught me in my teenage years were how to keep a packed schedule, how to build a routine, and that consistency is the best thing for me. My routines have definitely changed once I moved out of my parents’ house the first time, but I noticed that if I didn’t stick to a routine I would easily get depressed. I need direction, and a routine gives me direction.
Feeling lost gives you an opportunity to find your identity.
“It’s okay to feel lost. I’m giving you permission to feel lost. The only way you’ll find yourself and find out who you are is to be lost. It’s going to be okay. Just don’t stay lost.” - Ellie, Dear Ellie on your 20th birthday.
Throughout my life, I’ve always felt lost in some sort of sense, like I was in a shell, like I didn’t really know who I was. I grew up a pastor’s kid (video on that coming soon!), I grew up a dancer, I grew up a homeschool kid. Those three things became my identity. Then being mature for my age was a new thing. And after a while, I felt like I was drowning under an identity I didn’t accept. I’m not just a dancer. I’m not just a pastor’s kid. I’m not just mature for my age. They sounded so superficial and I think that’s why in my head, it built up this negative connotation.
The most lost I ever felt was when I felt my dreams of being a professional ballerina flat out die. I lost all desire to perform, I lost all desire to dance, I struggled with anorexia, I struggled with loving my body and being okay with it. All those things made me realize, I’m not who everyone else says I am. I began to process this with someone close to me and with his gift of encouragement, he shared with me all the things that he saw that I was: a good friend, a person who loves well, someone people listen to and trust, someone people feel safe with, someone who gives even when I don’t feel like I have anything to give. It began to heal my heart, and I began to write out the person I wanted to become. Rather than telling myself to improve on every area, I decided to celebrate who I am. And I’m lucky that I have people around me who celebrate these things about me as well.
The way you carry yourself matters.
“You don’t have to care how you look. You already know you’re fine as hell. But other people care. You know you can turn heads when you enter a room, you got that from Dad. Be kind. Be firm. Be who you wanna be.” - Ellie, Dear Ellie on your 20th birthday.
I’ve never cared about the way I looked. I really didn’t. I could’ve cared less. I always knew that beauty on the inside mattered most, the kind of person you are is always what ends up attracting people to you anyway, no matter how much they try to deny it. I always knew that I could carry myself well because, well, I would just copy my dad. I noticed whenever my Dad would walk in a room, a restaurant, a meeting, people noticed. They felt his presence in the room, like he was so important. At an early age, I knew I wanted that. So I learned it.
People always told me, “You’re so mature for your age!” and many times I dressed like a businesswoman, and the way I dressed made me seem older to the people around me. Once I hit 16-17, people assumed I was between the ages of 21 and 26. My dad used to tell me (and still abides by this rule), “You never know who’s watching.” So the mature way I dressed, the french roll in my hair, the posture that I learned in ballet (which is regal and poised), and the way I spoke made me seem like I was much older. I gained the respect of people around me. This was when I realized that yes, I don’t have to care about what people think of me, but if I want to gain the respect of others, I need to put forth the person I need or want them to see. It’s not being fake, it’s giving them one specific version of myself.
You’re not nearly as alone as you think you are.
“Please, for the love of God, once you get your license, go make friends. You need them. At the same time, remember that friends don’t make you less lonely. Loneliness is a disease of the heart.” - Ellie, Dear Ellie on your 20th birthday.
This one got me in tears. At the time that I filmed this video, I didn’t have many friends. I had the people at my church, but very few at the time did I consider friends. She was right: in the last two years I have developed friendships all over the place, and I can officially say I actually have many friendships. But no matter how much time I had spent with them in person or on FaceTime, I was still lonely. The loneliness, as stated above, was a disease of the heart.
In recent months, I lost a friendship that I’ve had for a long time because of how badly this person hurt me. That was when I realized I was battling loneliness, and when lies and awful thoughts crept in, I had a hard time overcoming it. It took me a month to recover and catch my breath, and I knew that even though yes, what happened was wrong, it was attached to a deeper-rooted issue. So I pursued healing. And little by little, the loneliness has lessened. Happiness has returned, and with the help of a few friends who sat me down for a heart-to-heart conversation, I began to realize that I am, in fact, deeply loved by wonderful, crazy people.
Keep an open mind.
“You’ll never understand other people if you don’t listen. Treat others as you would want people to treat you, and listen to others as you would want people to listen to you.” - Ellie, Dear Ellie on your 20th birthday.
Dang, baby Ellie was really giving me some good advice for my twenties. This is one I still struggle with when it comes to my family, but with my friends, I am much better at listening. The wildest blessing I’ve had is my friend group, which is made up of people from all over the world (literally) with different beliefs and lots of opinions. We can get into long, loud, heated debates with one another and still manage to keep a relationship with each other. We still manage to, at the end of the day, agree to disagree because we care about friendship. We also have an open mind, and my beliefs and opinions challenge theirs and vice versa. It opens up our worldview to understanding each other better. It’s an amazing thing we’ve cultivated with each other that gives me hope that not all people who disagree end up hating each other.
Always pursue healing.
“You’re always going to get a lot of opinions about what to do. I’m begging you, be whole. Find healing from the things that have happened. They’re a weight you don’t want to drag you down for your twenties or worst, the rest of your life. Don’t let these things destroy you, because people need you.” - Ellie, Dear Ellie on your 20th birthday.
Trauma happens, whether it’s emotional, physical, spiritual, mental. Everyone in the world goes through their own bits of trauma and everyone copes with these in their own way. Baby Ellie knew that if I didn’t pursue healing that I would go off the deep end in a bad way. At the time of filming this video, I needed hope. I needed this change. I needed so much that felt so far out of reach at the time that I think, deep down, I knew filming this would be a time capsule of hope for a better time in the future.
I pursued healing. I’m still pursuing healing. And every day I get better. Some days I feel really strong and other days I really don’t. I have accountability, I have support, I have what I need to be whole.
It’s okay to set boundaries.
“Be brave. Set those boundaries. If people don’t like it then they can leave.” - Ellie, Dear Ellie on your 20th birthday.
Being brave is the scariest thing you can do. Setting boundaries requires a level of being okay with not pleasing other people, and it has always been difficult for me to do so. It’s definitely difficult for me. But baby Ellie is right- it’s not my job to control other people’s emotions. It’s my job to do what I feel is best for me and to set parameters around areas of my life that I need to. If people don’t like it, they can walk out. I’m not responsible for how people react. I’m responsible for how I react.
Be a powerful person.
“I know it sucks having to be the adult, or feeling like you’re always being the bigger person. Suck it up and keep doing it. Because how you react matters and you don’t want to burn bridges with the people you love.” - Ellie, Dear Ellie on your 20th birthday.
Take risks while you still can.
“Please live your life. Don’t sit at home, have no social life, and be too afraid to try new things like you always have. I really don’t like that about me, so please be better for you.” - Ellie, Dear Ellie on your 20th birthday.
I laughed out loud when she said this because it was true. I only went to a few places during my teen years: church, dance, and the rest of my time was spent at home because school was home (hence, homeschool). This past year, I did so many new things when I lived in LA: I went to a lot of work parties which were a lot of fun. I got to meet new people and network with people from my job industry. I did photoshoots with friends and photographers. I went swing dancing with friends late into the night. I hung out with friends on an almost weekly basis. I tried silks and remember feeling so free, excited, and I felt so happy and powerful. I tried new things and I look forward to continuing doing new things and hanging out with the people I love.
“You have a photobook of all your favorite memories, and you haven’t put anything in it. Create memories. Take pictures, not for social media but for you. Take pictures that hold a thousand memories.” - Ellie, Dear Ellie on your 20th birthday.
Someone I love used to tell me, “I can’t replace your bad memories, but I can help you create new and amazing ones.” It meant everything when he would tell me that. And that’s exactly what we did. Whether it was get-togethers with our friends to taking road trips to LA or the Central Coast or random dinners or getting lost while driving along a random road, we made amazing new memories that helped me not focus on the bad ones.
Be a jack of all trades and a master of many.
“You don’t have to be the best at everything, but do everything with excellence.” - Ellie, Dear Ellie on your 20th birthday.
It’s okay for your dreams to change.
“Things will never work out how you meant them to- your “nevers” turn into absolutes, the things you never wanted will become your greatest desire, and sometimes, dreams die and come back to life in a new form. It’s okay. I’m giving you the permission to pursue a new path.” - Ellie, Dear Ellie on your 20th birthday.
“Get the stick out of your a**..You’re not stupid, so don’t be afraid that you will be. Use your brain, go out, and have fun.” - Ellie, Dear Ellie on your 20th birthday.
She was right on that. During that time I really did. Majority of the things in my life I convinced myself were fun, but much of it was done out of obligation. I had no balance between fun and responsibility. I have always been a workaholic to an extent, but now, because of the people I have in my life, I have learned how to let loose, let go, and have fun. But not in an unwise way.
Stop caring so much about other people’s expectations.
“People can take their expectations and (I’m sure you can guess what angsty Ellie said next). It’s not their life, it’s yours. Do what you want to do. As long as you follow your gut and what you know is right, you will always be okay.” - Ellie, Dear Ellie on your 20th birthday.
Take a breath- It’s going to be okay.
“When I look in the mirror, I have to convince myself that I am okay. That everything around me is okay. It’s what I do so I don’t feel like I will go crazy. But one day, maybe when you’re watching this, you will learn that it actually is going to be okay. Maybe all the time I’m spending convincing you it will be okay will actually become a reality in your own life. So keep breathing.” - Ellie, Dear Ellie on your 20th birthday.
Never lose your center.
“Whether you’re in ballet class or not, your center is everything.” - Ellie, Dear Ellie on your 20th birthday.
My center was developed quite a bit while I was away from home. This center’s makeup was that of my values, morals, beliefs, and desires. It also had a lot to do with Jesus. My center focus was around Him, but around Him are all these other pieces. When I feel like I’m getting far too overwhelmed, I go and find that place where I feel centered. When I feel centered, I am in control. I am clearly thinking. I am prepared. And that time is where the moments of truth and clarity come, when I am centered.
Your life is yours to live.
“Don’t live your life for other people. Doing that is going to kill you, and I’m 100% confident that people want you alive.” - Angsty Ellie, Dear Ellie on your 20th birthday.
Do what makes you happy.
“I know that happiness is just a feeling. Who cares? Who doesn’t love to feel happy? Happy is temporary joy. So create a space of happiness because eventually, it will become a lifestyle of joy.” - Ellie, Dear Ellie on your 20th birthday.
For the love of God, don’t worry about marriage.
“You should definitely stop worrying about who you’re going to marry and other people’s opinions on who you should marry. You’ll never make everyone happy. You know who your wise council is. Those are the only voices that matter.” - Ellie, Dear Ellie on your 20th birthday.
Yes, I have always been that kid who was overly excited about being married and having kids. After going through a pretty traumatic relationship and finding healing through another, I realized that I was in such a rush to reach a place that I am not mature enough or ready for yet. While yes, I can still spend time dreaming about those days, I am currently quite happy with the idea of waiting. I want to be my best self for my husband and for my children. So I’m taking the advice from baby Ellie. I won’t worry too much about it.
If any of this can be added to your own life, I encourage you, look at where you want to be, look at the kind of person you want to become, and keep yourself accountable. I had no idea when I was 17 that this was going to be so impactful to me as a 20-year-old. At 17 I made this video because I was scared, lonely, and angry. In all honesty I’m not sure where my head was at. I was grasping for a tiny bit of hope for my future when it felt like my world was spinning. At 20, I can look at the advice and the goals I set for myself back then, and I see that I’ve grown so, so much. When my friends tell me how much they’ve seen me grow in a small amount of time, I feel like I’m seeing it with this capsule.
Baby Ellie asked me to delete the video once I was finished and make one for when I turn 25. What would I say to my 25-year-old self? What would you say to yourself five years in the future?
Should we make this into a challenge?? If you decide to film a “Dear Future Self” video, let me know in the comments! I want to know who would actually do this video time capsule...
Thanks for celebrating 20 with me. I love you all.