Advice to My 20-Year-Old Self on My 40th Birthday
In the wake of turning 40, an event that has proven far less traumatic than I had expected, I felt compelled to speak to that young woman who lives in all of us. The girl that is trying to figure it out and find herself, who is searching for answers and trying to inconspicuously make it back to her dorm room on a Saturday morning in her Friday night clothes. She is me and she was us and in 3 years, she will be my daughter. Now, if you had asked my thoughts on entering this new space in life, just 5 years ago- I would have immediately had to pour a glass of wine before I could even say out loud that I was turning 40. I was terrified of everything that it meant and carried with it. I was not where I wanted to be. I wasn’t ready, yet. Plus, I vividly remember my dad’s 40th birthday and the outfit that I wore; he was old then-even older now and it wasn’t that long ago, or seemingly so (it was a navy blue and white Benetton sweater set, by the way, and it was totally fabulous). Thankfully, where I am now is not where I was five years ago. I am comfortable to speak from a place of experience and mistakes and failures. There is no more push for perfection or extreme editing of what life “should” look like. There is much comfort in flaws and forgiveness, and figuring it all out. I am where I want to be and forty is not scary, in fact it is pretty freaking exciting and I am ready.
So, to that 20-year-old girl, I offer my advice. Much of which I am sure I heard and wished I had taken then, some that I needed to hear but probably wouldn’t have followed anyway and a few words that I still have to remind myself of to this day.
1. You are enough.
2. Be the kind of friend you want to have. This is incredibly important. Be a girl’s girl. Your girlfriends will prove to be your life blood in the years to come. Chose them wisely.
3. Don’t get that $20 dollar tribal star tattoo from a guy name ‘Stick” in college because you are not in a tribe and it will look like a Chinese Star 20 years later.
4. The boy you loved when you were 15 will not turn out to be as great as you held him to be all these years later. Sometimes memories are just better than the real thing. Let them stay that way.
5. You are enough.
6. Don’t shoot Jager. Drunk you is not pretty you.
7. Learn to say no, often.
8. The things you think are important now, will change. Change is good. Thank God and Garth Brooks for unanswered prayers.
9. When he wants to break up, let him. There is no need to sell yourself to anyone.
10. You are enough.
11. Don’t ever cheat: On a test, on a boyfriend, on a hair dresser. Don’t. You are better than that.
12. Don’t get the store charge card at Goody’s. Their crappy clothes are not worth the crappy credit.
13. Wear thongs. Especially with those stretchy black polyester/lycra flare pants that you wore way too often. They did not look as good as you thought.
14. You are enough.
15. Guys don’t really like Alanis Morissette, Sarah Mclachlan, or the Indigo Girls- if they tell you otherwise they are just trying to sleep with you and your relationship will be built on lies.
16. It is hard for tall girls to be cute. Stop trying. Stick with smart and funny.
17. Don’t try too hard. Always be sure that your love of yourself far surpasses your need for attention. Security in your own skin is the best look you will ever wear.
18. Take your time: falling in love, shaving your legs- there is no rush. Just take your time- life moves too quickly as it is.
19. The more of yourself you give away, the less you have to give to the person who truly deserves the most of you.
20. Don’t use Sun In, lay off the bronzer, and for the love of God, do not wear Patchouli.
21. Be kind. It is the most important thing you can be.
22. Don’t compete with other girls. It is a waste of energy. Social media will one day bring you a great and satisfying perspective on the girls that you once saw as adversaries.
23. Do not – and this is a big one- DO NOT get the “Rachel” haircut on a whim at the mall. It will take 2 years to grow out the bangs that you never should have had in the first place.
24. No duck lips in pictures or pictures in bars.
25. And most importantly: You. Are. Enough.
We'll talk soon,