I have kept a journal since I was seven years old. I wrote about the first time I saw The Lion King in theaters, and how I felt when Princess Diana died. Around the age of eighteen, when I got my first laptop, I started typing out diary entries when I didn’t feel like hand-writing them. I have over a decade of ramblings saved on word documents.
Recently I have been going through some of these ramblings while doing my annual computer back-up, and stumbled across this letter I wrote to myself when I was 23 years old. I wish I could say this was the only time that I have written a letter to myself, but that is not the case.
The letter is advice to my thirty year old self, and I enjoyed reading it through the eyes of a younger me. Although I am not quite thirty yet, I figure this is a good reminder for when I do hit the milestone in about six months.
Your twenties are supposed to be a crazy, unstable, scary, and confusing time. I have read endless articles and blogs where the author contemplates what they would tell their twenty-something self if they could go back in time. Lessons they wish they could have imparted upon their younger, less developed self. The most popular wisdom seems to go something like this:
–Wear a two-piece and short skirts! You’ll look back on pictures and miss your 20-year old body!
-Don’t go tanning. Stop slathering on baby oil next to your friends and spending hours on a beach chair, you might look cute now, but you won’t later.
-Don’t worry about such-and-such boy, what other people think about you, stop being so pathetic, just love yourself and everything else falls into place.
-Monitor your credit card spending and money, stop dropping $200 every time you go to a bar. You’re not a Kardashian.
I can’t argue that these aren’t valid pieces of advice. However, if my thirty year old self figured out a way to communicate with me from my future, and was like, “Hey Megan, I’m here to tell you it’s ok to start buying sluttier dresses, as long as you don’t spend too much on it-because you need to be saving for retirement. Got it?’ I’d be like, I can’t believe my 30 year old self wasted her one chance at time travel for that useless advice.
So, I decided to write my thirty year old self a letter. This way, if she ever figures out time travel and decides to use it as a method to communicate to her twenty year old self, she’ll have this letter to refer to:
Dear thirty year old Megan,
First things first. Don’t write me a letter with your advice, I’ll just ignore it. Instead, pay attention.
Your twenties have been awesome. Granted, I’m only about three years in, but so far they have gotten considerably better every year. You have done some seriously amazing things.
At 23, you know you don’t have it all together, but it’s cool. Don’t worry about that. Right now, let’s talk about thirty-something-year old you.
Most importantly, please do not stop being awesome.
I’ve seen people hit their thirties and instantly panic if they haven’t hit certain life-milestones. I’ve also seen the opposite. People just instantly get boring when they hit their thirties, and decide it’s time to ‘settle down’ or whatever that means.
Don’t misunderstand. By awesome, I do not mean going out clubbing with twenty-somethings every night and trying to reclaim your youth. Nothing about that is awesome. I mean continuing to always strive to find what you love, never becoming complacent, and always challenging yourself when things start to feel too easy.
If I were to guess, most of the people you know are probably much farther along in the ‘life stages’ race than you. Do not let yourself think that this is a bad thing, or that you need to catch up. Even now, you worry that you aren’t making enough money, that you aren’t far enough in your career, that you are making bad ‘life moves’ by chasing your travel dreams. You should know by now, that you cannot make any wrong decisions. Everyone has their own direction to take. Keep taking yours, never compare, and never look back.
Keep in touch with your friends, and make a huge effort to stay as close as possible with them, no matter where life takes everyone. This is a big one. These people in your life at 23 are the best friends you will ever have. There are not other people in the world that exist like them. They are the most supportive and caring people on the planet, and if you let that fall by the wayside, then you have failed at life. Seriously.
This is probably the most important part of this letter, and also the cheesiest.
As long as you are healthy, relatively happy, and have your friends and family-nothing else matters. I know you probably don’t believe this, and think it’s just your 23 year old naïvety talking, but it’s true. You are a chronic over analyzer-but sometimes the best thing to do is just stop thinking. Stop thinking and spend time each day being ridiculously grateful for where you are, and the opportunities you have in your life.
And please, for god’s sake, throw away all our jean skirts. They aren’t coming back, and if they do, that’s none of your concern.
23 year old Meg