To my 23 year old self,
You are getting married this year. Congratulations. Your marriage is going to be fun – not perfect – but it will be fun. There are going to be times of pure bliss, and days you feel like you made the wrong choice. You didn’t. You are going to get married to your best friend, you are going to be uprooted from what you know now, and you are going to move to the ‘big city’. Don’t be scared – you are going to thrive. You are going to have a couple different job – some will make you question humanity, and others will make you wake up with purpose.
I know you are 23 – you are strong, and you have goals. You know what you want. You’ve come a long way, since you moved to the US when you were 18 by yourself. You’ve worked hard, and you’ve gotten everything you’ve always wanted and worked for. You are going to continue working hard, and you know what you want. You are going to buy a car that is the best for a family. You are going to buy a 3 bed-2 bath house in the suburbs — one right across the street from a park, so you can watch you future kids play. The backyard is going to be the perfect setting for picnics and backyard camping for your kids. You are going to get everything ready – you prepared. You will pay off debt, you will be financially stable – you will be ready.
Dear 23 year old self – you are a beautiful and strong women, and you need to know, that not everything will go your way. Things will be different – but you will make it. You will get through days harder than you can imagine — learn now to appreciate a good glass (or 3) of Merlot — South American is the best.
On your 29th birthday, your ‘nursery’ will be an office. Your car has turned into a smaller, more economical car, with a hatchback to bring your 2 dogs to the park easier. You have two dogs. Two beautiful Pit bulls you rescued, and they love you more than you ever thought something could love you. Your house in the suburbs will be put up for sale. The very house you imagined your family in. You and your husband have found a cozy and beautiful condo downtown in the City, under the bright lights, next to great restaurants, and walking distance from a Trader Joes!
I know this ‘can’t be real’. I know that it’s not easy to take in at 23, but I assure you, I’ve spent the last 6 years living this Hellacious purgatory, and this is what’s real. It sounds devastating, but it’s going to feel right eventually. Your depression will turn into a form of liberation. You will go back to school for Engineering. You will get a 4.0 your first semester – you will love it.
You are going to lose your friends you thought were going to have for life – not for bitter reasons, but you will grow apart from them. They will all have children, and you, nor they, will no longer be able to relate to each other. You will not be able to relate to waking up at 2 am sick with a crying baby, and they will not be able to relate to you going to Portugal for a week ‘for fun’. At first, you will wonder what you are doing wrong – but the truth is….You haven’t done anything wrong. This is life. We all have different paths, and this is the one for you – whether you like it or not (but you will like it eventually 🙂 )
You are going to have people come into your life, and it’s going to be amazing. You are going to meet people, who will forever change you for the better. You will admire them. You will love them. You will turn into a better person because of them.
Dear 23 year old self. Your life will not be over when you are 29 and childless. You are going to have an amazing life – filled with purpose and ambition. Everything you ever thought about being 29 is going to be stripped away. There are times you are going to cry until you throw up, because you feel like you’re ‘doing it wrong’. You are going to hate your husband, because you blame him. You are going to want to run away, because ‘this’ isn’t what you anticipated. I assure you – it’s worth sticking around. Breath. Drink wine. And buy good running shoes — you’ll need it in 2015, when you fly to NYC to compete in your first half marathon.
Are you happy at 29? yes and no. You’ll have spent 26 years thinking your life will be one way, you will send the next 2 years fighting to change it, and by the time you are 29, you will accept it – not in an accepting way like a disease – but you will understand, that this is the life you were supposed to have all along, and you will make the best out of it. It will be a rough year, but mostly positive as you beginning looking forward, and no longer backward. It’s hard, but it will become habit – and it will be liberating when you break off the review mirror. You will feel on the right track – two more years before you have your engineering degree. You will be living in the heart of the city you love, surrounded by others like you. You will find peace in running. There will be days, when you ask if you are ‘doing the right thing’ – and I want you to always question that. You are. You will make new friends, and you will travel, see and taste the world.
It is okay. It’s more than okay – it’s amazing. Don’t let ‘what could have been’ or ‘what should have been’ be the stepping stone of your life. From here on out, your life is ‘what will be’.
Even at almost 30, people will not understand these changes. They are not quote socially acceptable just yet. People will tell you what you are doing wrong, and advise you to be something you weren’t meant to be. Look forward. Be polite, for the most part, they only care about you. They will not understand your relationships with your new friends. They will not understand why you are going back to school or selling your house. They will continue to ask “but what if you have children” to every single life choice to make. It’s gets easier to handle – I promise. You’ve just spent the last 6 years living by ‘what if you have children’ — let it go and politely answer “what if we don’t”.
Don’t be afraid to love. Be brave. Appreciate everything and everyone. Be flexible, and accept change with curiosity and excitement — you no longer are on a predetermined path – instead you are laying out each stone as you go.
Keep you head up little girl, and learn to enjoy the freedom — I’d advise you more about the future and what to expect — but I don’t know it =)
Your 29 year old self.