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A Letter to My Twenty-Year-Old Self

July 13, 2010

[I first saw the “20-Something Self Letters” Project when my favorite Google Reader Sharer (confusing, I know, are you still with me?) posted the project on her blog.  I loved the idea, read a ton of fabulous letters, and then dismissed the possibility of writing a letter to my twenty-something self because I am still a twenty-something.  Apparently it was a glitch I could not work out.  Until my friend, who is also a twenty-something, posted a letter to her twenty-year-old self. (Whoa!  That’s allowed?!) I decided she was sheer genius for working out the glitch that tripped me up and then decided to write my own also (finally).]

Hi Em,

It’s me… yourself about six, almost seven, years from now.  Hi?  Don’t freak out.  (Do you still use that phrase?)  I’m just here to give you some friendly advice.  I know you’ll listen and then make up your own mind.  Right?  See?  It’s just me.  I could tell you stories (get the reference?  Yeah, I still love it), but I know you don’t have all day – you’re busy with school and life – so I’ll just jot down the important stuff.

Most importantly, I love you. And he loves you.  And they all love you – those people in your life that you cherish so much.  I know you feel childish for wanting to climb to the top of the nearest mountain (I know you don’t have a car on campus yet, so it’s probably gonna have to be the hill next to the lake) and scream to the world that you have found your friends for life.  The people who get you. The people who you don’t think twice about being yourself around, in fact you don’t think about it at all, you just are.  You feel lucky.  You are lucky.  So give these friends an extra hug today, and joke with them about being little old ladies and men in wheelchairs together, and then run to the bank of Seneca Lake and SHOUT to the world how much you love these people.  They are worth it.  And they will probably join you on that bank and shout as loud as you and then you’ll laugh about it until the tears fall years from now.  They love you. They love you, and they’re all going to be around for a very long time.

He loves you also.  You know that already.  I’m telling you it’s okay to believe it and to stop being scared of it.  You have your hesitations, and those are fine to keep, but don’t doubt that he loves you.  You can handle anything that comes your way.  You know that also, but I’m telling you to have faith in it.  You will be fine.  You will better than fine.  How’s that for something to look forward to? =)

Take that dance class.  Love it.  Don’t worry that it doesn’t fit into either of your majors.  You’ll understand life better afterward.  Trust me.  Take Ghettoscapes, too.  You’ll hate how much isn’t taught in that class, how much more you could be learning (see how well I know you?), but you’ll learn to pass notes in class (finally!), how to daydream by staring out the window, and how to spend more time trying to convince the professor to let you out of the mid-term than actually studying for the mid-term.  It’s about time you learned these things. You’ll always have time later to learn what the professor was trying to teach you.  And don’t worry, your grade won’t suffer at all.  Pretty amazing, right?

Don’t go to Los Angeles for your study “abroad” program.  Sorry, it’s that simple.  You’re not going to like L.A. under these conditions.  You’re going to hate the entertainment industry, and you’re not going to get another chance to travel abroad until 2010.  2010!  Do you know how long that is?!  Double-majoring isn’t really that important.  Go abroad, as in really abroad.  Take the risk – go to India instead.  Oh, that’s right, you already applied; it’s too late to change.  Well then.  Make a bee-line for the young new talent agent at your internship.  He’s down to earth, fun to work with, appreciative, and you’ll learn a bit about a healthy life perspective from him – but sorry, that’s about all you’ll learn that semester.  (Bummer, I know.)  Don’t worry about the relationship you left back home.  Things will work out the way they are supposed to, and it is not reliant on your decision to go to L.A.  You know this, trust it.  Take all the opportunities you can to travel on the west coast, take more pictures in Death Valley, and on your down days (there will be many) hit the pool without feeling guilty and take afternoon naps in the air-conditioning.  Enjoy the downtime while you have it.  The next SIX YEARS are going to be so busy you’re going to forget what sleeping feels like, never mind a nap.

Think hard about going to law school.  Make sure it is for the right reasons – they are going to be what gets you through the socratic method, your oral argument, the late nights, the early mornings, and fear of failure.  When you have those right reasons, know that they’re not the same reasons that direct most people to law school.  Hold them tight and follow your own path.  It’s a long path, but it will bring you happiness, it will bring you joy.  Just stick to your path.  You will know what I mean when you get there.

Think hard about spending a year in AmeriCorps.  I know you have their promotional bookmark taped to your wall.  (See, again, how well I know you?)  Take it down and sit quietly on your bed with it.  Here is what no one else will tell you: for you, it’s the other half of law school. For you, it’s the most important half. In fact, this possibly will  be the most important thing you ever do.  I know, this doesn’t make any sense now, but trust me.  Follow your instinct, you will later define it as intuition, and go where it leads.  You know that quote you have on your AIM profile?  You know the one, “Take the detours in life.”  Take this detour.  When you get there, know that you are stronger than you think.

I’m actually jealous of you young twenty-year old who still gets to eat in dinning halls, walk by the lake, sit in classes she loves (go you for loving your school and your classes), and sleep next to or next door to or across campus from her very-best-friends-ever in the world.  Enjoy it.  Enjoy every single second of it, because you might look back years from now and call it the best year of your life.  A lot of great things will happen after this year, and you still have yet to meet some of the most important people in your life, but this twentieth year will be one of your best.  Avoid the crying in the car in the Ramada parking lot and take the friend-who-deserves-a-prize-for-putting-up-with-you-sometimes out for a 3am stroll around Wegmans.  She’s in it for the long haul, and will save your soul (or so it seems) a thousand times more, so give her a break from the tears and unnecessary drama.  And tell her how much you love her.  She needs to hear it as much as you do.  I’ll say this part again (because you need to hear it again): I love you.  He loves you.  They love you.  You know this, now trust this.

And if you get a chance, write a note to your twenty-six (almost twenty-seven year old self) and tell her to trust herself also.  She could probably use that advice right about now.

Love you as ever (you’ll get this in a few months, for now just take note of how much it still means to me/you),

  1. July 14, 2010 9:04 am

    This is so awesome. I cannot express enough how much I adore this letter and the way you wrote it. Very encouraging and so full of love. If only we could get these kinds of letters in our mail boxes. Life would be that much easier.


    Hannah Katy

    • July 19, 2010 6:48 pm

      Thanks, Hannah!

      Sometimes I think what we would tell the younger versions of ourselves is also what we need to hear in the present (at least, in part). I bet this letter wouldn’t be much different if I wrote this in my mid-thirties (eek that is hard to comprehend) to my twenty-six-year-old self. Kinda gives me some perspective on things going on right now. =)

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