By Amy Li
Dear younger self,
When you were a little girl in China, you wanted to be a gypsy — to sing, dance, and travel around the world. The truth is life is a long path with lots of surprises along the way. You are correct in always following your heart and your passion, working hard, and making your dreams come true.
You probably will not realize your curiosity about the world will fly you over the Pacific Ocean. You’ll land in sunny California. You’ll get to pursue something you have always loved — creativity and art. You’ll work your ass off and get into one of the top design programs in the country. You’ll get recruited by one of the top internet brands and have your first iPhone app featured in the New York Times.
But the truth is, the word “dream” will have many different meanings in different stages of your life. You will learn sometimes a corporate career is not necessarily the most fulfilling for your personal growth. You will apply and receive a scholarship to the top social entrepreneurship program Singularity University at NASA, known for empowering leaders to use technology to change the world.
And you will learn that life can be as dramatic as a movie. While you are inspired to change the world, you’ll be shocked by a Stage IV cancer diagnosis. Your dream will take a back seat to survival.
Your fight will teach you that while pain is real, so is hope. You will learn that things do get better, no matter how bad they may appear. You will survive and come out an even stronger person than before.
You will learn that your dream will return and your cancer will reveal a new mission in your life. The love and support you receive will make you want to give back. As a cancer survivor, you will learn that you are not alone.
You learn that patients are often homebound and very easy to fall into depression. You will discover that creative arts therapy can really improve the quality of your life and ease your pain, and it’s been proven by published medical research.
Sadly, music and dance are very underutilized in healthcare. So, you’ll build a live video platform so patients like yourself can dance and laugh with anyone, any time, from the comfort of their homes.
You will learn that recovering from cancer and moving on with your life is hard, but being a social entrepreneur is even harder. You may sometimes question why you chose a much more difficult path, but the love, support, and appreciation you will receive will make you quickly realize your newfound dream is worth it.
You will also realize self-care is not selfish, and mental health starts with yourself. And you will write this poem to tell yourself it is ok to Let Go.
Letting go is a process
when the shock is over and the pain
starts to overwhelm
it is a decision in the mind
yet, a struggle in the heart
You breathe deeply
hoping to ease the pain
It decides to linger all around you
through your muscles, your bones, your cells
it tries to take you over
it tries to break you down
all you can tell yourself is to never give in
Listen to that music you always love
dance your heart out to that beautiful tune
as you swing, bounce, jump, hop, extend,
you will get it slowly out of your system
your muscles, your bones, your cells
If your tears decide to visit you
let them flow, and flush out like a waterfall in the forest
‘it’s ok and it will be ok
the waves will gently whisper in your ear
‘you are just as beautiful as you always were,
after the rainstorm, there is a rainbow,
in your heart, in your eyes, in the sky.’