Written with love from my early-30s
First of all,
Lemme just preface this by saying that we turned out pretty cool. I mean, we don’t go around saying this to strangers or anything, but just between us (we’re all friends here): we’re pretty okay.
So this isn’t gonna be some letter full of thinly-veiled regrets — mostly because we don’t live with them. (Which is probably part of the reason we’re legit.) Rest assured: we turned out all right, and we dig it.
I mean, don’t get me wrong: we’ve taken some interesting turns. Like we were single, unemployed, and technically homeless at 30. But somehow that didn’t scare or surprise us. And those two facts combined about sums us up.
But since I’m writing a full-blown letter here, here’s the rest of what I’ll say to my younger me:
Keep on taking responsibility for you. Keep on with ownership and agency and action, even when you don’t have to, and never make excuses as to why you “aren’t,” “can’t,” “couldn’t” or “haven’t.” Everyone and their mom could think up excuses if they wanted to — we all hit traffic, or have car trouble, or hate our parents, or fight with our SOs, or have medical issues.
You do you, boo boo. You’re in charge. And you got dis.
There’s nothing quite like the first love, I’ll give you that. (And you picked a good one, so rock on. 🤘)
But there’s really nothing quite like the more mature love that follows that, and it’s waaay moar better. All of your nagging questions of “why don’t more high school sweethearts end up together?”, “why aren’t adults more cutesy?” “if this was so great, wouldn’t more of them be jealous of it?” “is this all bullshit?” are pretty well-founded. So when it comes time grow and develop beyond one another, do.
By the time you have your second boyfriend (and third, fourth, that guy you only kinda dated, and all the long-term ones you don’t call “boyfriend”), you realize just how much shit is transferable across relationships.
Cute gestures, little habits, small traditions, shared hobbies and interests. Killing time and doing things together, “building memories.” It’s scary how many people can step into that role.
So what’s unique? What about this person means it has to be them? Their willingness to go along with it? The fact that they like the same movies? The fact that you share dreams, or they support yours? Or something cool like mutual growth and big love?
lol, man are you gon’ piss some people off.
I mean, you are really gonna upset them. You’re going to make some people insanely uncomfortable with the way you roll.
But you’re also gonna kill it a little bit, and people have a pretty hard time arguing with results. So it all works out in the end.
Round about 30 you’ll learn what a codependent is by dating one for too long. Shortly thereafter, you’ll realize that Mom is, and always has been, codependent, too. And that this explains pretty much everything, ever.
Also, within a year of each other, Brother will have a kid. Sister will get a dog. You’ll buy a second motorcycle. (And give Dad your first.)
On everyone else
- People think first about themselves, and frame everything accordingly
- People hurt people — we can’t avoid people doing hurtful things. Best we can do is find the ones that don’t do it deliberately, and arm ourselves with the realization that it happens.
- To be interesting, be interested. Seek to understand before being understood. Smile.
On body image
One day one of your two best friends from college, a dude majoring in digital media, will walk into your dorm room, see that picture of a Victoria’s Secret model every college girl has pinned to her bulletin board for “inspiration,” and tell you:
“Take that down. You’re holding yourself to a standard even she hasn’t achieved.”
And it will remain one of your favorite pieces of body image advice into your 30s. Because he’s right.
On being a woman
I’m gonna just be honest here — this one will allude you into your 30s. If you think your ponytail and tomboyish ways will save you from sexism, you’re wrong. It’ll take you years to realize you’re dating misogynists, and at least another year beyond that to figure out whether you still are.
Also, the kid thing. Still a mystery into your early 30s. Sorry.
On hopes and dreams
Okay, I’ve got good news and bad news.
The good news: you got a big city. You got trees. You read a shit ton, and write almost as much. You got the guy, the dog, the job. You earned good money, you traveled, you invested, you saved. I mean, ya built a biz — so good on you. 👊
The bad news: alright, so about some of these specifics… it’s a “no” on architecture (tbh, we dodged a real bullet on that one.) It’s a “no” on getting a Masters (tho we do enroll and drop out three separate times.) And omg, let’s be honest — we never really wanted to show any art in any gallery. (Because, just for starters — what art?)
Yeah, but are we happy?
Shyeah. Oh hells yeah.
Like 100x happier than we are whenever you’re reading this, and I know that because each year is better than the one before.
Here’s the real thing with the advice we give our younger selves: whatever we say to them is what we should be saying to ourselves.
For a while, when I considered what I would tell my younger self, I always thought, simply: “be nice.” This was a time when I was working on being nicer. But then I did that, and that’s no longer my advice. (Though, darling — do that, too.)
A year ago, I would’ve said something like: “take more risks and start a business.”
Right now, my darling? “Crash and burn. Rock and roll.” 🤘