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?