Dear Twentysomething: Linds from Bibliophile Brouhaha
Dear Twenty-Something Me,
Oh, sweetie, you and I have had some times, haven’t we? Between the second guesses, the search for true job love, the long days, and the nights that never ended, you and I have built some strong memories together. You always thought that college was supposed to be the ‘best years of your life’? I’m damned if we didn’t prove that one wrong! Your 20s rocked for so many reasons. I’d be remiss, though, if I didn’t tell you that I wish some things had gone better for you, that you had treated yourself more kindly and thought more of yourself at times. So, here’s a little love letter from me to you, kid, about the things I’m proud of you for, the things to keep in mind, and the lessons you are going to have to learn again. And again.
- You gave far too much of your time to that jerk. Two years of being treated like you were never good enough were two years wasted. Say it with me, “You are worth more. You are worth more.” If you are going to love someone the very best that you know how, then you deserve the same back. You’ll never get that if you don’t set self-respect as one of your priorities. Know when to walk away. It’s the best thing you can do for yourself.
- Aren’t you happy that being single turned out to be amazing? Meeting new people. taking off at the drop of a dime to go places and visit friends, and who knew that dating could be so fun? Not having to consider another person in your mid-twenties turned out to be the best thing for developing yourself. Enjoy the times as much as you can, and remember this about dating: every relationship is going to end until you meet that special person who clicks. Learning how to be happy by yourself with your interests to sustain you is one of the most important skills you can have.
- You rock for picking up and moving clear across the country where you knew no one to follow your dream. You learned that your dream wasn’t what it’s cracked up to be, but you took the risk and found out, instead of wondering what if. Never be afraid to explore the possibilities.
- Your parents’ divorce. When you were in high school, you thought one day you’d suddenly get over it because you would have your own life. Turns out it doesn’t work that way. You now being an ‘adult’ has freed up your parents to spend more time on themselves, and you are not always going to like what they do. You can’t change anything about it, darling. You will grieve again and again over losing your family and the many upsets and compromises you will have to deal with because of it. Let yourself grieve fully, rather than rage at the loss. And once you have come full circle in that process, concentrate on cultivating your relationships with your individual family members, rather than wishing you had a ‘whole’ family. It’s never going to feel quite good enough, but I think it’s the best thing you can do for yourself.
- Be aware that people are usually at their best in college. College provides a self-propelling system of self-improvement and fulfillment. When people are stuck in the same job for eight hours a day and develop daily routines, you will find that they slip back into high school cliques and gossip on occasion. Don’t get caught up in it. Cultivate a need in yourself to always take the high road and strive for the best ‘you’ possible.
- Life can slow down after college, and unless you and all of your friends settle in the same place, you are looking at making new ones. Be choosy. The true ones stay, and as S.E. Hinton wrote in That Was Then, This Is Now, “If you have two friends in your lifetime, you’re lucky. If you have one good friend, you’re more than lucky.” You, my dear, are very lucky in that respect.
- On the flip side, learn to be easier on people because they are people. They are not beings who simply fail to live up to your expectations. They deserve kindness and compassion, just the same as you. Get a grip and learn some patience.
- Okay, I mean this with love, but will you friggin’ just trust yourself already??? Believe in what you love and cultivate that passion, not be frightened of failure. This is something that you and I will be working on for a long time, but you will do it, you will do it, you will do it! It might be a bit of a cliché at this point to quote the late Steve Jobs, but he nailed it: “. . . have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary.” Take risks.
- Please note that you still have to pay the bills. And take care of your financial future. 80% of women die single, and 75% of women living in poverty today were not poor before they were widowed. Because the average female in the US is not raised explicitly to understand finances, you might have to rely on yourself and Suze Orman to get money things straight. Might I also suggest reading, “On My Own Two Feet: A Modern Girl’s Guide to Personal Finance,” by Manisha Thakor & Sharon Kedar. Own your finances. If you owe somebody, or let someone else take care of it for you, you will never own yourself.
So, that’s it for now. I’m sure I could write more, but then we’d have a novel. Much love to you. I have it on good authority that things will not always be easy, but the journey and destination are worth it. Take each high and low in equal measure, and you’ll find yourself in a beautiful collage that’s your life. I’ll see you in ten for another letter.
31-year old Linds