I was inspired after reading this blog from Lela Casey.
What would you tell your younger self?
Dear 22-Year-Old Self,
Right now you live in the city of Philadelphia, you are in a relationship with the wrong person, and you are in the wrong graduate school program pursuing the wrong career. Everything feels wrong and you’re not sure where to go from here. You feel adrift and there is no good place to drop your anchor. Moreover, you don’t feel like you even have an anchor. Sweet girl, it will get better.
I am writing to you 12 years in the future (freaky, right?) and in less than a decade, you will have (spoiler alert!) a graduate degree in public health (What?! I’m not a doctor?!), a career you are incredibly passionate about, a husband you adore, and three kids (including surprise twins) who make the world sparkle and open your heart up in ways you never thought imaginable.
Right now, you are definitely learning the hard life lessons everyone must learn at some point (although accruing an additional $60,000 in student debt is not ideal – still, it serves a purpose), this time in your life is decidedly sh*tty, and it is absolutely necessary.
22-Year-Old Self, you don’t see it yet, but you are lovely. You have the world at your feet, you can and you will accomplish so many great things in the years to come. There will be achievements you never dreamed of for yourself, like learning a new language or becoming certified as a Lactation Counselor. In the upcoming years you’ll buy your first car (a stick-shift like you always wanted), you will return to your alma mater for graduate school and rent your first apartment while pursuing a degree you actually want (global public health – look it up, population health will be BIG in the next decade). You’ll expect to live a very minimalist/globe-trotting life in Africa or India, but instead meet a nice Jewish boy who turns out to be better than the man of your dreams. You’ll be in a long-distance relationship for 2 years (seriously sucks, but it’s worth it), then get married, move to Ohio, buy a house, and start new jobs all in 1 year (whirlwind!). You’ll travel to Europe and drive around the French countryside (yep, hubby doesn’t know how to drive a stick shift). You’ll (not surprisingly) realize you are more country mouse than city mouse, and then you’ll get pregnant with your first baby (it’s a girl!). You will breastfeed (I know, never expected that right?), then help others successfully breastfeed. Fast forward two years later and you’ll experience the shock of your life when you learn you’re pregnant with twins (identical girls). You will take to motherhood like a duck to water. One day you will feel incredibly comfortable in our skin, and you’ll thank your body for all it has done for you. You will come into your own, and then you’ll blog about it on your own website, and other blogsites to share your lessons learned. You will create a life for yourself you never thought possible and you will have a marriage you never thought possible because you actually married your best friend and he supports you and lets you try out your crazy ideas. This is not to say there won’t be scary moments, like when your twin baby girl is born breech, blue and not breathing. Still, there is SO much to look forward to.
And yet you feel trapped, but DON’T. CHANGE. ANYTHING. Our early 20s will never be a time we look back on fondly, but we need this very dark time to appreciate all the light coming in the future. There are probably a million ways life could be easier or better, but then I wouldn’t be me right now, which is pretty darn awesome.
There are a lot of things you don’t understand about life and how the world works and it’s OK. The secret is you don’t NEED to understand it. Life is not meant to be easy. So just let it be. If something or someone is antagonizing you, or you’re incredibly frustrated by a situation – there’s nothing more to be done than just focus on what you can do. You cannot control what happens to you, but you can control how you react and you can be proactive. This is your source of power and sanity.
I know your 20s are supposed to be fun and carefree, but instead you have stomach aches from stress and your nerves are so bad they make you physically ill. It’s tempting to wish you could fall asleep like Rip Van Winkle and wake up in the future, but you don’t want to miss your life. Take heart. Do the things that scare you, change course, and you’ll learn you can be fearless and have fun at the same time. It will all work out. Be the friend to yourself you already are to your friends. Be kind and forgive yourself the way you’ll be kind and forgiving to your daughters. Nothing is ever perfect, but this is where you feel most comfortable: accepting the imperfections. So follow your gut and feel confident knowing who you are at your core, and then you’ll never feel lost again.
PS. It would be nice if you looked into yoga and meditation. Also, crack open your journal and start writing!