My trek through my old college downtown last weekend got me to thinking about how lost I was in 1990 at twenty. I was more together at seventeen than I was at twenty because one year away from college graduation, I thought all the wrong things mattered. Wouldn’t it be great to be able to send just one letter to yourself at that gorgeous, lost age of twenty?
This would be what mine would say:
You’re not fat. Stop staying that you are. My God, look at you.
Also, your hair will never be this magnificent again. I only say this so that you will continue to fuss over it and make it as large as possible. It’s as awesome as you think it is. Even awesomer.
The cowboy boots under jeans thing is also foxy, but why on hikes?
Forgive yourself for everything. Yes, even that thing you did. Forgive yourself.
Focus on the very few friends who are kind. Focus on the friends who inspire you. Let everyone else go.
The old high school boyfriend is as right for you as you think he is. Even righter. If you think you love him now just wait until your wedding day when you are calmer and more at peace than you have ever been in your life in spite of everything. Wait until he takes your daughters backpacking and teaches them how to use power tools. He is the best father in the entire world waiting to happen.
It’s great that you work out every day, but the self-loathing you feel while you do it is no good. Rethink the self-hate. You do not deserve it.
Get a Masters right now. Do not wait until you have the time and money. Get an MFA in writing now. Right now. Run.
Lastly, good job. Nobody is telling you that you are doing a good job right now because no one actually sees you. You suspect sometimes that you are invisible and you are right yet it matters not at all because you are nearly done with college and you are barely out of your teens. You’re meeting adulthood free of debt, addiction, and regret. You’ve made such wonderful choices.
Rethink the self-hate.
What would go into your letter for your twenty-year-old self? I would love to see your ideas in the comments.
New adulthood isn’t easy, not even for the modern incarnation of an ancient goddess.