Letters to young conservationists

Letter to 18-year-old Ivy

To 18-year-old Ivy, 

 Hi babe. It’s me from the future. Crazy, am I right?? 

Let me first start by telling you how brave you have been all your life. You have been doing so well. I have always been in such awe of you, handling tough challenges all by yourself from such a young age, in spite of being misunderstood with your own hardships by others. It makes my heart swell three times its size with pride how forgivable you are to people. Where did you learn to be so forgiving?? Every day you prove that you don’t need to receive loyalty to hand it out. It makes me so sad that I don’t have an endlessly forgiving heart like you do right now, but I wish I did. Remember when you were 10 years old, visiting Kaziranga National Park and you saw the Great Hornbill? I remember you coming back to the room and reading everything you could find about them. As you browsed through the numerous pictures of hornbills, you made the decision to prioritize loyalty, trust and affection in your life because you felt that the environment around you when you were growing up was lacking in these attributes. This decision feels like a mistake right now, doesn’t it? I know you keep wondering why you are not getting back what you’re giving, but I am here to tell you that, I promise, this generosity will pay off. It sucks that you have and will continue to have people doubting your priorities (we still haven’t been able to get rid of those people, just yet!), but through these interactions with people who don’t believe in you, you will learn to trust your gut. I know that you will sometimes show vulnerability to the wrong people, which may backfire on you, but these experiences will teach you to filter yourself and share what is appropriate with the right people. Everything in life is either an adventure or a lesson, isn’t it?  

 I wish I could give you a hug right now. It breaks my heart that you’re going through so much  hardship, in a way that’s turned yourself into  your own Luisa (subtle nod to a Disney movie Encanto from the future that you will absolutely love!). As much as I wish you weren’t facing these challenging times, I can tell you that you will become stronger for them in the future. I know that your tumultuous ocean of a life has currents that are currently crashing and breaking, making it hard to have a still and peaceful mind and the motivation to get up out of bed and seize the day. Your idea of love is very naïve right now, and I know that you’re confused about where you are in love and life. You will find yourself lost in your ambitions sometimes and wondering what you did wrong. I know that you feel scared to be isolated, being a single child with working parents, you have had to depend on friendships for so much and so many of those friendships are now falling apart. Strangely enough, you are still wondering why you still wouldn’t think twice before fighting for them. It hurts, I know, but what doesn’t? The waves seem to be pulling you under and the voices in your head are drowning the voices in your heart. You can barely breathe but the harder you fight, the faster you seem to be losing air. 

You will understand that when you calm down, the water around you will clear and you will see the anchors, your friends and family, waiting for you all along. You should know that there are people who believe in you, like your mom. It’s okay to grab your mom’s hand and walk with her because when you do, the waves seem to be crashing just a bit further offshore. You will find that it is a little bit easier to swim these seas with a crew, and slowly, you will start to value human connections more than anything. You have compromised on your gut feelings for way too long, trusting the opinions of others instead. I wish I could tell you that your gut is right and that you should trust it more than any other person, but I can’t. I will tell you that your life will get better and your decisions will get easier. Don’t worry, you will eventually find people who prioritize you just like you do,  they will love you and your belief in yourself will rise again. After you reach the bottom-most rock bottom that you never thought could exist, your definition of love will slowly change. In your words- your hornbill will squawk again. I love the fact that you are learning to be different and embrace the gorgeous mess that you so fearlessly are. But you will stand and rise, believe me. Take time off to breathe, cry and laugh and find the inner hornbill spirit of yours to remind you that every dead end is just one wall-climb away to new avenues! Go crazy!

 From 26-year-old Ivy

Written by Ivy @landedonthewrongplanet

Illustrated by Daisy Buckle @naturalcuriositystudio

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