Dear 20-year old self:
This June 28, 2016, I’ll be turning 45. I know what you’re thinking: how could that possibly happen? Believe me, I know how you feel. I can’t really believe it myself, but here it is. I know that you couldn’t really fathom yourself at this age. It was all so far away, and a little unreal. It was as if life stopped at 25, and anything beyond that was veiled, murky and uncertain.
I know your questions: Will I ever find love? Do I even want kids? Should I try to be a writer, or do something more practical? Will I end up a lonely old woman surrounded by rangy cats and dusty books? Will I ever find a hairstyle I like?
Well, let me put you at some ease. You will find love, real love, a few years from now. When Jay asks you out, say yes. When he asks you to marry him, say yes. Just understand that with real love comes complexities that you can’t even begin to imagine right now. You’ll learn that people change, and even love changes, even as it deepens. Hang in there; it’s all worth it.
One of the reasons it’s worth it is because, yes, you will have a child with this man, and she will be the ultimate love of your life. This sweet, beautiful child will challenge everything you think you know about yourself. She will help you grow in ways that nothing else in this world can. When your flights of fancy threaten to send you spinning off into oblivion, she will ground you. I know motherhood scares the crap out of you-all that responsibility!-but believe me, the love you receive in return is unlike anything you’ve ever experienced. You know how you wonder what it’s all about? This is it.
Speaking of flights of fancy, keep writing. Just do it. I wish you had committed to it sooner, but all that scribbling you’re doing- and will do- is creating a foundation. Keep nurturing that dream. If I had to go back and do it all over again, I’d forget about the accounting degree, and the study-at-home courses for veterinary assistant, and the other one for pharmacy assistant. Forget about those hare-brained ideas, and concentrate on writing. That’s what you’re meant to do. Practical has nothing to do with it.
As far as I’m concerned, there are worse things than ending up surrounded by cats and books. I don’t think that will be your fate, but make sure you have a few of each at all times, anyway.
Put away the curling iron and the aqua net. You don’t need them. And those strands of gray hair you’ll be plucking out in a few years? You might as well keep them, because there’s just going to be more. A lot more. But because you’re smart and will quit smoking, your skin will be as smooth as a 35-year old’s when that big 4-5 comes. Could be worse!
I know you’re full of worries and insecurities about the future. I still am now, just with different worries. It will all work itself out. It won’t always be easy-far from it-just know that you’re strong enough to face the challenges. Really; it’s in there. There are probably a few things I could warn you about, and advise you to make different choices. But your mistakes are my invaluable lessons. And great fodder for writing, so keep the screw-ups coming!
So try not to worry so much, and have fun. And remember, the best is yet to come.
Your older (and still kind of a mess but okay about it) self XOXO
So, what would you tell your 20-year old self? If you’re 20 (or so) now, what would you ask your older (and hopefully wiser) self?