An Open Letter to Myself

Dear Claire –

This has been quite the year, Ms. VanderEyk. There have been some goals that you have just crushed this year, and some that you’re feeling you really let slide. It’s funny how your mind can seem to only focus on the “failures” or disappointments. Let’s talk a little bit about what you did really well this year.

In 2015 you started a new job, in a role that you had coveted since graduating from undergrad. Within days of being in this job it became really clear that it was going to be a lot harder than you ever imagined. You learned, perhaps for the first time, that when you’re confident and self-assured there is literally nothing you can’t do – but, when you’re tested and your confidence wanes, an overwhelming urge to quit seeps out the only thing you want to do is curl up and tune everything out. You fought (hard) through that urge in 2016, you had to battle with a debilitating inner voice that told you couldn’t do it. But, you got up and did your job. You’ve got a long way to go, I know, and I know you remind yourself of that every day. But, just for a moment, let’s celebrate how far you’ve come. You should be proud of yourself, Claire.

Girl, don’t you remember that you bot a house this year? Not just any house, but one with over 130 years of history and in a neighborhood that you love. That is awesome. You now own a little piece of Minneapolis history, and as such you have an opportunity to play a role in the story that this house tells. Getting to the closing was a punishing process, most notably for your savings account (the subsequent failure of the furnace certainly didn’t help that), but it was worth it. Take more time to stop and look around at this beautiful old house, I think it may be your soulmate in building-form.

I know you feel like you didn’t spend enough time spreading the preservation gospel this year, you’ve been reminding yourself that a lot lately. But, every time the negative self-talk tries to highlight all the work you didn’t do for preservation this year – let’s try to remember what you actually accomplished. In 2017 Preserve Minneapolis will welcome a new committee, an Events Committee, which you will co-chair. You’re going to have a small army to help you, now. The result will be more events, more advocacy and more people connecting with preservation. You didn’t win the battle to save your high school, that’s a real bummer. But you learned so much – skills that you’ve collected that will serve as tools to use in future discussions of preservation and community. Perhaps in the grand-scheme 2016 won’t be your most productive year in preservation advocacy, but what you did over the last year has built a foundation for your future work. You’re not done.

The last couple weeks have been difficult. Negative self-talk and a crushing to-do list is really wreaking havoc your productivity. I feel you letting go, I feel you pulling away and giving in to the desire to curl up and close yourself off. You have to stop it. Remind yourself that you are strong and intelligent. This is not going to get easier, because you are always going to challenge yourself. That is the wonderful thing about your ambition; it is unwavering, as long as you get out of your own way. Believe in yourself, Claire.

Stay strong .

You got this.


With love,


Claire VanderEyk


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