On October 6th, 2017, I turned 36 years old. Shockingly, this isn’t at all daunting, but instead extremely eye opening. Obviously, a lot can happen in 15 years– some good things, some great things, and some not-so-good things but nonetheless, I am thankful for the lessons.
As I enter the other end of my 30s, I enter it with an amazing amount of gratitude as I am also becoming extremely introspective in my later years. This is because after 36 years of living and learning, what I know for sure is that nothing remains the same, and if you aren’t okay with change, you need to get there immediately if not sooner. I have also learned that nothing is promised, everything is earned, and to love people deeply while you have them with you so that when you lose them, you have something to cling to.
I journal nightly (well semi-nightly now that I have two children), but it helps me keep things in perspective and also gives me an outlet to say things I can’t say out loud (and if you truly know me, you know I say most things out loud, imagine what’s in the journal). I wrote a letter last week, a letter that is 15 years in the making to my 21 year old self: that hopeful 21 year old with the rock hard abs, and the pension for the finer things.
I wrote this letter, not to be cliché, but to look at things retrospectively and to revel in the growth that has taken place. To be grateful for the ups and grateful for the downs and look forward to the future. Lastly, I wanted to write this letter so that my kids will eventually read it and realize that mistakes will be made and this letter will allows them to humanize me, not as someone who valued perfection, but someone who made mistakes and lived through them.
You’ve done pretty well for yourself. As you stand on the precipice of your college graduation you seem like you are ready for the world which is awesome. You’ve had an amazing 4 years of college, you’ve traveled a bit and had a lot of fun. You’ve made various mistakes, some small and some gigantic, but the good news is that you have survived them…now life is about to happen.
College has come to an end and expectations are changing, people want you to get a job and your parents keep telling you “responsibility is going to kick you extremely hard if you don’t get it together.” You’re not trying to hear any of that, you just want to travel, and live at least until you’re 40.
Well, DeAndrea, unfortunately life will not go as planned. There will be bumps in the road that you are not adequately prepared for and even though you survive, some things will leave lasting scars that only you can see.
There will great times, as well! Lots of them, but my best advice for you will be that you need to slow down and enjoy the people in your life while they are there for you to enjoy. Make time for family so that distance doesn’t grow between you.
Last but definitely not least, don’t be so hard on yourself…you’re way to0 critical of yourself, and that is a flaw that will make you fearful of doing some of things that you really want to do. You’re an amazing girl, you are a great friend, and you help people even when you feel broken. Don’t let this world ruin your sense of hope. Not just for you but for the generations after you, including your children. I’m proud of you girl, keep being magical!
Your 36 Year Old Self