As I sit listening to my young co-worker gasp and swoon over Pinterest wedding images, I find myself biting my tongue. There are so many things I want to say to this beautiful 23-year-old girl, all of which I’m sure she has no interest in hearing. I want to tell her to peruse the travel destination photos, instead of wedding venues. I want to suggest that she dream of how her career is taking shape instead of the shape of a diamond. But I don’t say any of this and she doesn’t want to hear it. Neither did I, I’m sure, at her age.
But, oh, how I wish someone had tried.
If given the chance to speak with my 20-year-old self, I wonder what I might have said and what difference it might have made.
You don’t want to hear this, but you are young. Instead of fighting against your youth, embrace it. Go ahead and love being young, love being unattached and free with a world of possibilities in front of you. You are in university right now and don’t love it… so leave! No one is keeping you there and you are not stuck based on past decisions! Go! Go to find your passion. Go travel, go create, go meet people, go see things. Do it now while you have that youth and freedom.
Focus on you. If there was ever a time for you to be selfish, this is it. Focus on your strengths and interests and how you want them both to grow. Don’t look to a relationship to fill those holes you feel – they’re there to guide you to yourself. The holes that keep you feeling restless serve a purpose. Follow the parts of you that make them feel full… when you ache to do something or try something; you’re on the right track. Just a tip: try art, try marketing, try music, try entrepreneurship. A guy isn’t the right track.
I know that you love being in relationships. You love loving, it’s a huge part of who you are, but 20-year-old me; you haven’t yet learned how to be in a relationship without giving up who you are. Please take time now to figure that out. Take time to decide who you are, all aspects of you, so that you won’t be so easily lost when in the clutches of passionate romance. Romance is awesome, but for you it is just too overpowering when you dive in the deep end like you so often do. Instead, date, have lovers and great experiences! Teach yourself how to date. Date lots of people, keep notes! See yourself reflected in many eyes and in the solitude of your own. See what it’s like to be interested in spending time with someone, but not allowing that interest to take away from your own. Be steadfast in your loyalty to YOU.
You’re afraid of so much in the world, I understand, but let me tell you something. In about 15 years you will wish for the time you lost simply being afraid. So much time wasted. Do you know what we’re capable of? Me, now, and 20-year-old me, we can climb mountains, dive into oceans, sing for hundreds, and stand alone, fearlessly – I know it might be hard for you to believe. It feels amazing to feel capable, to stand on your own two feet. Don’t waste another day without that feeling. Don’t waste another second in fear.
Just a few more gems of wisdom before I leave… stop plucking your eyebrows, someday when they aren’t all thinned out, you’ll thank me. Leave your hair alone for a while; someday you’ll miss just having your natural color (shocking, I know). And your birthday is coming up… have a blast, go all out, but don’t mix the tequila and the rum & cokes. Again, you’ll thank me.
I love you. Work hard at learning to love you. We’ll get there together, and, I promise, the best is yet to come.
Me, and you… and who we are going to become.