To me at 24,
You are so young right now and you think you are so old. You have experienced so many great things already and have made so many wonderful friends. You can’t imagine now that you will cherish some of these friendships forever. So many people come and go, in and out of your life, but those relationships that you nurture will turn out to be the very ones that will carry you through countless years of trials and difficult changes. I want you to always work at being your best version of yourself, which by the way, will not be an easy task.
The word “friend” to you has a positive connotation and you like having a lot of friends around you, but you will be amazed at what the word “friend” will mean to you later in life. Your good friends will become your closest and most important confidants. You will go through everything with them and they will see the good and bad in you and love you the same. You will turn to them for virtually everything and you will be amazed at the ways they continually come through for you. In many ways, these seem to be the only people that really “get you” and that’s okay. Don’t feel bad that you are closer to your girlfriends than you are to your own sisters. Your sisters are wonderful and unique and very different from you, but you will learn over the next 10 years that they will always have your back and they fulfill a role that no one else can.
Learn now to cut people some slack. Decide right now not to take offense to everything. You spent your teen years choosing to be hurt by so many people. It’s almost like you were looking to be offended. STOP taking things so personally. People do not generally mean harm. People just say stupid things and do stupid things and pass judgment on your stupidities. It will take you the next several years to really master this concept, but you will become pretty good at cutting slack and at forgiveness. Forgive your parents now. They love you and want the best for you and their lives don’t revolve around you. That’s right – it’s hard to imagine it, but they are barely surviving their own life struggles.
You are a truth-seeker and you will become even more of one as you get older. You want so badly to know what it is you are supposed to be doing at all times, but that burning question will almost always haunt you. You won’t really ever feel entirely confident in what you are doing in this life. A matter of fact, you will learn to question everything. This is what you do not know right now, but boy how I wish you did: you already have the answers within you to most of life’s questions. That’s right – you have an incredible sense of natural knowing. Trust yourself that when things feel good, go forward and when things don’t feel good, make a change.
Oh, and speaking of change, you think you are so strong and independent right now. Wrong again! You are vulnerable and scared and insecure and you hate change. It seems that everyone around you is changing and you are just standing still. That’s why you just quit your job and went back to school. This is one the best things you will ever do. I hate to tell you now though that it will take you 17 years to get your undergrad. It’s true, just accept it now and don’t worry about the traditional timetable.
Take risks! Don’t live the safe life. The safe life literally takes you nowhere. It is only in the risk-taking and in trusting in yourself that you learn to feel good. Your life will not be anything like you are imagining right now. You have such high hopes for the amazing things you will do. The truth is you will do some wonderful things, but you might as well throw the expectations of “amazement” out the window right now. Most of what you will consider disappointments in your life will be a result of the expectations you set early on. Oh how I wish you could just go with the flow, but I’m here to tell you that you don’t ever really become a go-with-the-flow- kind of person.
Just a couple more things: Some of your worst fears at this moment in time will come true. You will be single when you turn 30. Your niece will get married before you. Your parents will get divorced. Your friends will move away and not need you anymore. You will not do anything with your degree. You will continue to struggle with your weight. Sorry to break it to you now; I know how afraid you are of all these things, but it will all be okay. Really. It will all be okay. The fear is much worse than the reality.
Go easy on yourself. Decide now that you are pretty and don’t forget it. Look in the mirror more. Somewhere along the way you stopped doing that. Take care of yourself and your body. You can’t imagine at this time that you will be a diabetic on insulin in just a few short years from now. You’ve always been good at staying out of debt, but that will change when you start a business. It’s okay – it’s not the end of the world, even though your dad always said it was. Serve others. You will learn over the next 10 years how much joy this brings you. Find ways to make a difference in others’ lives – it will make all the difference in yours. Don’t worry that life turns out entirely differently than you planned – it’s full of wonderful surprises.