Sunday, May 22, 2011

Dear 18 Year Old Me

Today I am linking up with Multiples and More to answer this week's QOTW: write a letter to your 18 year old self. Oh, this should be fun. I'll even add a picture or two of me and my bangs.

Dear 18 year old me,

It’s 8:30 am on a Sunday morning so I am pretty sure you are not awake. I know how much you like to sleep, and believe me, I don’t blame you. Fact is, I am jealous.

Unlike me, your 35 year old self, when you get up, you won’t even need a cup of coffee to get going. You won’t start drinking coffee for another year. Part of me says I should tell you to avoid it, but honestly, there will be times when you absolutely need it.

Besides, this letter is not going to be a letter of “don’ts.” Sure, I could probably save you a lot of heartache and guesswork if I just told you what not to do over the next 17 years, but isn’t that defeating the purpose of living?

And, if, by some miracle, I could change your actions to help you miss the bad stuff, well, there’s a good chance you would miss some of the awesome parts, too. You’ll learn that the good is inextricably intertwined with the bad, and what you once thought was bad is actually good. Right is right for now, and wrong can be the new right. For a moment, just let that paradoxical wisdom sink in. We’ll come back to it in the end.

Now, I know you just want me to give you a plan because that’s how we are. Even at 35, I am still fighting with the idea that, somehow, life should operate according to my plans. It doesn’t. And honestly, even at 35, that scares the hell out of me. We have never been one to deal well with uncertainty, have we?

I now know that it is that very uncertainty that causes some of our anxiety. I wish I could make you not worry, but again, at 35, I am still struggling with this part of us. We’re finally working on it, though. We had to. We realized we need all the energy we can muster to handle the more important , rewarding parts of our life, specifically the wonderful parts that arrive in the middle of your 34th year.

I know you are mentally listing what insights I have revealed. Let me save you the trouble: One day you will wish you could sleep in; you will eventually develop a coffee habit; this letter does not contain a plan for your future; one day you will get serious about managing your anxiety; you will need great, superhuman amounts of energy starting around age 34; and finally, your 35 year old self is still working on becoming the person she is destined to be while enjoying blessings she could have never imagined.

What, then, you ask, could this older, still imperfect version of you offer that you don’t know at 18? Well, skinnier me, it is a simple truth that I still remind myself of from time to time:

Trust yourself.

When you wonder whether you should stay or go, you know.

When you wonder if you should speak up or stay quiet, you know.

When you wonder if you should smoke that cigarette or drink that beer, you know.

When you wonder if you picked the right major, you know.

When you wonder if he’s lying or not, you know.

When you wonder if you should marry him or not, you know.

When you wonder if you should take the job or not, you know.

When you wonder if your family will be okay, you know.

When you wonder it’s fair to compare yourself to others, you know.

When you wonder if you should travel or not, you know.

When you wonder if you’ll ever be a mom, you know.

When you wonder if you should give love a second chance, you know.

When you wonder if you are enough--good enough, smart enough, pretty enough, strong enough, you know.

Through the years, I can see the expression of self-doubt on your face right now. Uncrease your brow. That wrinkle isn’t going to get better with time.

You are thinking this all sounds too vague. You are thinking it’s impossible for someone to know everything. You are wondering if you really will know. You are wondering if you will mess up and not trust yourself. You are wondering if you will be okay.

It is. You’re right. You are. You will. And, you are.

It works out.

You know.

I know.

We know.

Trust us.


tipsontriplets said...

Very nice, MaMe. I found it to be a helpful exercise too. I enjoyed your words and the vintage pics.


Safire said...

Great post!

Onesie Mommy said...

So beautifully written and heartfelt! Love it and the bangs.

I couldn't help but laugh at the coffee habit. I didn't drink coffee regularly until Miss B was born. Now, I'm addicted. Some days, I'm up to three cups a day AND I've developed a taste for espresso. Help...

I can't wait to read about how wise your 40 year old self will be...

p.s. Those babies of yours are truly breathtaking.

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