Notes to my Younger Self

blueskyI read a great book by Susannah Conway, titled This I Know: Notes on Unraveling the Heart. In it, she mentions writing notes to her younger self, and older self, and it got me to thinking of what I would write to my younger self. Susannah’s writing is so genuine, and I found myself bookmarking so many pages on my Kindle, it was kind of like “why don’t I just bookmark every single page while I’m at it?”

So, here goes nothing…

Dear Terri,

You’re only 16, and today’s the day you decided “you know everything there is to know about the world, and no one can tell you otherwise.” Oh….you simply have no idea.

When your mom tells you to stop eating that cookie or you’re going to get fat, don’t let it influence how you eat for the next few years. Don’t go days without eating. It’s not healthy. And she probably didn’t realize how much that one statement was going to have on you and your self image. She was just having a bad day.

Your sister isn’t perfect, she’s just older than you are. Believe me when I tell you, she has her own self-doubts to deal with.

You don’t have to wear a suit to be successful. You might think that only people who wear business attire are successful in this world, but you would be wrong. And when your mom goes over financial aid forms for law school with you and asks, in a serious tone, “do you realize it will cost you $90,000 to attend this one school?” You need to really think about the answer. Don’t just assume you will be making all the big bucks when you’re done. In fact, don’t even assume you will stay in that field for as long as it took you to earn that degree. Because you won’t. And you will search for that perfect career for a long time.  “Older You” is still working on it.

You’re 16, and you think your one true love just broke up with you this year and that life is now over. You would be partly correct. He may have been your one true love, or at least your first true love, but life will go on.

When you get to be in your twenties and it seems like everyone else has their act together and is getting married, and you’re being left behind, just know you’re not. The twenties suck, plain and simple. You don’t have a clue as to who you are, what you want to be, how you want to live your life.

Aside from your divorce, (oops, should I not have said that? Bet you’re wondering who that guy will be, huh?) your thirties will be awesome compared to the suck-ass twenties. Unfortunately, your body will change so that you won’t be able to drink everything you want to like you did in law school without gaining weight from it, but you will finally get a sense of who you are. And you’ll start to care less about what others think of you. That is, until you get divorced anyway, and then you worry about being alone for the rest of your life, and will anyone ever love you again? They will, but not until you stop hating and blaming yourself for everything that went wrong. You weren’t married to yourself, so don’t put it all on your shoulders.

When you’re nearing 40, don’t dread it. Embrace it. And when the thought enters your mind to work out like a crazy person so that you get into the best shape of your life, go for it. Because you will. And because you are strong.  Remember that, because many times in your life, you may have your doubts about that.

Don’t try to act younger, just be yourself. You can go after those young hotties if you want, but just know that they are at a much different stage in their life as you and they won’t be able to handle you, for sure. It will be flattering, of course, but there won’t be any substance there, and don’t try to see something that simply doesn’t exist.

When you hit 40, you might fall in love with someone very different from you. You’ll maybe lose yourself in his dreams there for a little bit, but don’t lose yourself and what your heart has always yearned for.  A good relationship involves compromise from both of you.  When it ends, hold onto the good moments and work through those feelings of loss and loneliness. Because you will feel them, that is for sure. But, remember that you’re not broken.  Remember that your heart has always healed in the past and it will do so again.

When someone tells you that some people think of them as a jerk, believe them and be on the lookout for signs that they may be that way toward you.

Don’t ever attempt to change people.  Know that it takes so much more energy to hate than to be indifferent. Know that you don’t have to live a life just like everyone else – it’s ok to be different. Recognize true friends when you see them in front of you – if you feel you have to act a certain way when around someone and can’t always be yourself, that’s probably not a true friend.

Live each day to the fullest. Because you never know if one day, you might step out off the curb and get run over by a bus. Or, you might live until you’re in your nineties. I’m betting on you living for a very long time.

p.s. You are NOT the crazy cat lady until you have 10 cats. 🙂

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