A Letter to My 21-Year-Old Self

Dear 21-Year-Old Self:

I remember you like it was yesterday.  You were fresh out of college and ready to take on the world.  I must say, looking back, you have done a good great job!  I know at times it didn’t seem easy as you were growing into becoming your own, but knowing what I know now, there is so much I wish I could have said to you.  Before I start, let me just say that I’m still learning and the one thing I know for sure is that I’ve only reached the tip of the iceberg in what I have uncovered about life.  I have lots more to learn and will continue to share it along the way.  For now, here goes…


Never live life as if you’re watching it from the sidelines—it will pass you by.  Don’t lose your passion and continue to chase your dreams—they will sustain you in times of uncertainty.  Trust what has helped to get you this far.  Remain vicariously happy and don’t worry about feeling like you must have it all together because you still won’t have life figured out in your thirties.  Yes, it’s possible for you to gain weight so continue to exercise and eat better.  Stop manipulating the texture of your hair–embrace every coily strand of it.  Make sure your graduate degree is worth it because those loans will be with you for a very loooong time.  Continue to feed your desire to see the world and all the beauty that it possess.  You’re a little uncertain right now, but your confidence will grow.  There will be additional moments of uncertainty but never let it rattle your confidence—you. are. smart. So far, you have lived your life like a textbook doing all the right things to become “successful” by your parents’ standards.  Let your hair down and become more of a risk-taker.   The moment you care less about what others think and stop worrying about missteps, the happier you’ll be.  Step out of your comfort zone.  What’s the worse that can happen?  It’s never too late to start over.  Every day you wake up gives you an opportunity to create a better you.  The more you practice being patient, uncomfortable and alone, the happier you will feel.  Stop thinking too much, the answers will come when you least expect it.  Your instinct will improve with age so never forget to trust your gut.  Surround yourself with people who enable you to laugh more; your demeanor will always be serious, but sometimes laughter will be the best way for you to get through.  Make peace with your past and when you feel lost, return to your center–meditate and pray.  Life is a beautiful challenge.


Cherish your family, especially your parents—one day, you will look up and realize they are aging.  Remember that the aren’t going to be around forever.  You’ll start to sound more and more like your mother as you get older.  Don’t let it scare you because you will also have a greater appreciation for her wisdom.  At some point, you’ll stop saying that you do things to make your parents happy and will start to say you do it to make yourself happy.  It will be difficult at times for your parents and siblings to not view you as the baby–be patient with them and accept that in their hearts, you will always be the baby.  Never stop telling your loved ones that you love them.  Sometimes the lines between networking and creating genuine friendships become blurred.  As you grow and change you may lose a few friends—don’t be confused or disappointed. You will eventually learn that there’s a big difference between friends and people you merely know.   Don’t pay attention to the friends who mock you for not liking hard liquor, they will soon appreciate that your palate was built for wine.  It’s okay to not care about what everyone thinks of you—accept that you won’t be liked by everyone, but will be very loved by some.  Your family will always be your friends and some of your friends will feel like family.


I don’t have this love and marriage thing all figured out yet, but what I’ve learned thus far is: love is durable but trust is fragile.  Learn to trust others and live your life in a manner that others are always willing to trust you.  Most importantly, always love and trust yourself, especially when facing adversity—you will only attract the love you think you deserve.  Don’t expect to be married by 30–you simply aren’t ready.  Use these years to experience all that life has to offer and don’t hesitate in kissing a few frogs.  I know you wish you dated more and spent less of your years with the same guy, but I’m here to tell you there’s not much to look forward to dating in your thirties.  Bu at the very least, you’ll have a few more stories to laugh about.  When you meet “the one” your relationship will feel easy and almost effortless—relationship drama is for the birds.  Your heart is more resilient than you think, don’t be so afraid to give it to someone who seems willing to appreciate and respect it.  Don’t worry, he will love what you think are flaws in yourself.  When it happens—and it will happen—try to ignore the voices around you that ask you how you’re going to balance a successful legal career and a marriage. It will simply scare you into feeling like you have to choose.  Love is not what’s complicated, people are.


What advice do you have for your 21-year-old self?



4 Responses to “A Letter to My 21-Year-Old Self”

  1. Desyree Says:

    Great letter! Quite reflective. Let me see if I can take a stab at this.

    Dear 21 year old, right now you’re very confused about things that you’re feeling. You were raised in a very conservative Catholic home that has no tolerance for homosexuality. You’re scared and wondering if you should just pursue the relationships with the guys who are interested in you, and get married and have children or if you should fight the fear and commit to being your true self. Fight the fears, because you will find that in time through a lot of hard work and understanding your family will still love you and will always be there for you. You will not have to give up having a family of your own because very soon in the next few months actually, you will meet a woman who will change your life forever. You will love each other truly and deeply and that love will be the sustaining force that will guide you through all of life’s ups and downs both within your circle of family and friends as well as society as a whole. Her grandmother will teach you that the most important thing in life is being “who you is” and that is what you will commit to for the rest of your life. That commitment to being your true and authentic self will be difficult because it will take many years, well into your 30s, before you even begin to know who that is. But once it becomes clear you’ll hold on to it forever. And as you approach 40 it’ll become crystal-clear and that’s when the real work begins.

    You will go through many occasions of ups and downs with your family and friends. Some will come, some will go, but in the end, those who are true to your commitment to happiness will always be there. Your relationship with your family will grow to a level that you never could’ve imagined. It will be well-connected in love and support. In your 30s, You will experience moments of pain based on hate and prejudice, but your family’s love will carry you to victory and redemption, and you will emerge from those experiences stronger and more confident than you’ve ever been your entire life.

    There are two important things that I want to ask you to do. The first is always continue to eat right and exercise. Right now you can run, swim, rollerblade and play basketball with very little effort but you will find that if you don’t continue to stay active you will lose the ability to do all of this and spend most of the time trying to get back here and it will be very difficult. Don’t let being out of shape rob you of living your full life. The second thing I ask is not to be afraid to start your family. The world will eventually make the right choices when it comes to your kind of family so don’t delay. Everything will work out in the end.

    Lastly, know that you will make many tough decisions. Some good choices and some not so great ones, but in the end they will all help you to become the strong confident black woman that you’ve always wanted to be. In the end you will find that your childhood passion of helping others is what you will pursue because that is what God intended for you. It is your gift to the world, don’t be afraid to share it.

    And most importantly always love yourself the way that God loves love you, unconditionally.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. LIST Says:

    Great post! Thanks for sharing!


  3. The Mocha Messenger Says:

    Dear 21 Year-old me:
    Girl, you were a quiet riot! Glad to see you’re still around even as you knock on the door to 40. Don’t close your eyes and hold your breath. See and breathe for every triumph, trial and tribulation. Every hurt, hesitation and humiliation. Every doubt, despair and discovery. And every virtue and victory. All of it. Every moment was so you can be the woman you were meant to be: the woman you are right now. Don’t change. Grow. Become.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. LIST Says:

    “Every moment was so you could be the woman you were meant to be.” Love it!


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