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Dear myself, one year ago.

***Originally featured in Spring 2022: GROWTH edition***

One day, you’re going to wake up and suddenly everything will be different. You will become uncomfortable with groups of friends you’ve had for years, squeamish at conversation topics you’d always entertained, and you will feel the weight of every single mistake you have ever made. You won’t quite realize it right away, but you will slowly come to understand that it is because you had outgrown your old self. It will feel like it happened overnight, but when you look back at the past several months, you will realize that it has been slowly building, little by little. You will decide that you can no longer stay complicit in hindering your own evolution. You will want to do everything you can to eliminate the discomfort immediately. You’ll want to grow and be completely different by the end of the day

To my perfectionist, self-reflective, anxious, regretful, and tired self, I remind you that everything is a practice. We practice compassion, we practice religion, we practice playing sports. We practice listening deep breathing, and self-love. You will come to realize that growth is a practice too. Intentional growth takes time and energy and effort. You will decide to be an impeccable partner or friend or sister, and you will beat yourself up when it doesn’t happen immediately. I am here to remind you that it takes active and intentional practice.

And with practice sometimes comes failure. And for you, at the beginning that failure will come more often than your success. Over time, you will learn to let go of relationships that you’ve been pointlessly clinging to, you will grieve your most loved one’s death, which will shatter your entire way of thinking. You will endure hardship, and as a result, you will repeat mistakes. I’m here to remind you to forgive yourself and to remind you to give that same forgiveness and grace to others in your life.

So continue your practice, be steady in your efforts, and take each mistake and each slip up as a sign that you have not yet learned the lesson you were meant to from that situation. While I move forward in my growing practice that will carry on throughout my life, I can tell you that you will eventually learn how to forgive yourself. Instead of shaming yourself into hiding over the person that you were, you will become proud of who you are striving to be. And I, looking at you now with what I know and the foresight that I have, am very proud of you.

With a warm hug (because I know you need it), Myself, one year later.

Aleena Haider-Jamal is a lifelong learner, avid reader, and advocate for change. She began Dreamer By Night as an endless love letter to her late aunt, the true heart of Dreamer By Night and its ultimate inspiration. Her main motivation in life is her small family, composed of her perfect husband and feisty puppy, and both make her world a brighter and warmer place every day. Aleena believes that there are endless opportunities for all people to evolve, regardless of where they come from or what their past may look like. And that the first step to inciting this internal change is by waking up and becoming aware of the person you are and coming to the realization that your decisions actively shape not only your own world but the world around you. She also believes that she is a better person today than she was one year ago because of the invaluable lessons she has learned from the brilliant minds featured in every magazine.

Aleena hopes that Dreamer By Night inspires a love of service, growth, and community, and is anxiously (and at times impatiently) eager to see where DBN takes her in the future.

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