Letter To My Younger Self: Arden Wray

We all wish we could go back and give our younger selves pieces of advice that could help guide us through life's twists and turns. Be it encouragement, answers, or wisdom gained from experience - life feels so much clearer when you're looking back. Photographer and Society6 artist Arden Wray has shared with us a beautiful letter to her younger self, written in hindsight, but with the forward thinking of a woman and a creative force who will continue to live a rich life full of risks. Though her words are for her past, they no doubt will ring true in your present. 

"I am still young and more foolish than I know, but here are some things I've learned so far:

Let go of the reins. There is no way of knowing what's around the corner. And the things that affect you the most, for better or worse, will come right out of the blue when you're unprepared anyhow. So, just try to make decisions to be as strong and happy and excited about your life as you possibly can be within the space of each day. Don't wait or push the important things to some later date when you think you'll be "ready." There is no ready.

Follow your bliss. When you do the things that make you vibrate at a higher frequency, that make you electric with possibility and your eyes go sparkly + wide - those are the good things. Those are the true things. Follow those feelings. Give them room, ask them to come back and visit you more often. They may not steer you to the practical safe place, but they will take you to the place where your best work lives.

Letter To My Younger Self: Arden Wray

Letter To My Younger Self: Arden Wray

Do not hand over the keys to your self-esteem to anyone else. Do not put some romantic interest you just met in charge of how you feel about yourself. Do not even let your best friend who adores you tell you how you should feel about yourself. This is your job and yours alone.

Travel. If you have the money, make it a priority to get to your daydream places. If you can't yet, get yourself anywhere unfamiliar in the meanwhile. Bike to a different part of town. Drive an hour outside the city in any direction. Get off the bus two stops later than usual and walk home a new way. Push yourself into the unknown and travel even within the place you live - only good things come from this. You will learn yourself better, you will think more clearly, and you will make better work.

Letter To My Younger Self: Arden Wray

Letter To My Younger Self: Arden Wray

Make yourself uncomfortable. Complacency is the death of creativity. If you find yourself sleepwalking through your work, change it. Start over at zero in something new. In the words of wise, wonderful Bonnie Raitt: "How the hell can a person / go on to work in the morning / to come home in the evening / and have nothing to say." Don't be that person. Forbid it within yourself.

Letter To My Younger Self: Arden Wray

Letter To My Younger Self: Arden Wray

Letter To My Younger Self: Arden Wray

Accept that you have no idea what will happen next. When I look back on the past three years of my life, so much has happened that I had no clue was coming for me. I moved to New York City. I started getting hired by the brands I'd fantasized about working for one day. I ended a relationship that I thought I would be in for the rest of my life. I moved back home and lived on a sofa in the middle of my father's one-bedroom apartment for six months. I spent a full winter criss-crossing America in a packed-full pick-up truck with a good friend. I fell in love with Texas, then I fell in love with a cowboy. And in someone else's wise words, I found the courage to break my own heart. Some of it was magic, some of it hurt like hell, most of it was a bit of both.  And i didn't see one tiny ounce of it coming. But every day was a stone on my path; every little thing brought me to this moment right here, right now, writing to you alone in an airport in Copenhagen about to board a plane to Iceland. Who knows what will come next.

Letter To My Younger Self: Arden Wray

So, don't take anything or anyone for granted - it could all change in a heartbeat. Stay open and honest and generous no matter what. Stay grateful. Say yes to adventure and yes to hope. Be present. Be brave. Be kind. Work hard. Good luck."- Arden Wray, June 2016

Shop Arden's work here:

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AJustinPhotos commented on Monday, June 20, 2016 8:30pm
The vibes are real. ✔
Little g Design commented on Tuesday, June 21, 2016 8:08am
Great advice. I have one more for your list:

7. Stop and appreciate what you see everyday from time to time. Don't take it for granted.

Sometimes it's a person. Sometimes it's a place. If we see the same thing over and over again we tend to look through it. Past it. Sometimes we don't see it at all.
It's important to truly stop and look. You might realize you are taking something or someone for granted. The landscape of your daily commute, a person in your life. There's beauty in all of it. Don't become desensitized by it.
Danielle Gensler commented on Tuesday, June 21, 2016 11:35am
This is very inspiring. Thanks for sharing this with us all.
Cara Riley commented on Tuesday, June 21, 2016 3:23pm
This is a beautiful article.

A big thing I'm focusing on in life right now is to never feel entitled to anything. Once you feel entitled to something, and you don't get it, you can easily become nasty and bitter about the situation.

Traveling is one of my favorites as well, and even if you can't travel, forcing yourself into new situations. I love making myself scared and uncomfortable; It can be unpleasant at the time, but the experiences and growth you get from it are priceless.
thelastpistachio commented on Tuesday, June 21, 2016 3:59pm
It’s essays like these that are giving Millennials a bad reputation - to both older and younger generations - as a collection of naval-gazing day-dream-driven and experience-worshipping Lana Del Ray lookalikes poisoned by borrowed nostalgia to the point of no return.

Every single word of this is nothing but generic, meaningless trite so non-specific it reads as though it was cherry-picked from the instagram accounts of women paid to tell you what brand of juice they drink while making sure their thighs don’t touch in another poolside photograph.

This is not advice young women today need. This is someone patting themselves on the back for living a life so far that, when stripped of the realities of being human, sounds almost envious to people who don’t know better. This advice is empty of understanding regarding how complicated it is to try to live the best life that can be made out of the gifts that have been given, even if that life doesn’t involve travel, cowboys, and photographing ponies in Iceland. This whole essay smacks of ignorance emerging from privilege that at least has the foresight to end with a “good luck.” This whole piece could just as honestly read, “wasn’t I lucky? I have no idea what ‘starting over at zero’ would even look like.”
Boelter Design Co commented on Friday, June 24, 2016 4:19pm
"Stay grateful. Say yes to adventure and yes to hope. Be present. Be brave. Be kind. Work hard. Good luck." - Some of the best advice that I resonated to, is advice I've been saying to myself for the past year, Stay Grateful & Be Kind. These two things go so far in life.

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