So, 20 Year Old Me, it’s been 11 years since I was your age, and today I’ve been thinking a lot about you. There’s this thing on the internet (you haven’t gotten into blogging yet, but just you wait you will know way too much about “social media” very soon) where people write to their “Teen Me.” But I think I have a lot more to say to you, 20 Year Old Me, than to myself as a teen.
Besides, Teen Me wouldn’t have listened anyway.
you? You’ve at least figured out you don’t know what the hell you’re
doing (Sorry, I say “hell” now, you are surely appalled). And I know you
thought the whole “being an adult” thing would be a lot easier than it
has been thus far.
You’ve been doing well in
college—something no one is surprised about. School was always something
you could figure out, with your high GPA and over-achieving ways and
crushing guilt at not turning in assignments. (You will probably be
shocked to know I do not miss school one bit and would never go back
It’s the life stuff that you have always struggled
with. Making friends. Going out and trying new things. Meeting guys and
attempting dating. Having a career or whatever. You have but a year of
your undergrad left at this point, and you are fairly terrified of what
happens after you don’t have school to focus on.
just gotten out of an emotionally abusive relationship. Though you broke
up with him three months ago, you are only starting to realize how
messed up it all was, how scared you were of a guy you thought you
It wasn’t really the best way to experience your first
kiss, first relationship, first thoughts of spending your life with
But hey, you dodged a bullet, and you will forever be
grateful to that roommate who sat you down, showed you the cycle of
abuse, and told you that you needed to get out and not marry that guy.
And I promise that you will start dating an awesome guy, get married to
him, have kids, and do all those things that seem completely impossible
to you right now.
In fact, you already know the guy. You just
don’t think of him in that way yet. And you might have sworn never to
date someone with feet as ugly as his…and you will be eating your words.
I really want to tell you, though, my dear 20 Year Old Me, is that you
will make it. All those things about being an adult that seem like
you’ll never get? You get them. And it’s pretty awesome. I’d tell you to
stop worrying about it, but I know you won’t stop so I won’t waste
Here’s the thing, though—it’s not going to be easy.
Actually, your 20s are going to be probably the worst decade of your
life. I don’t know what’s in store for us in the future, but I’m hoping
things even out.
Because getting all those things you want is
just plain hard. And being the wife, mother, and author you want to be
is hard. (Yes, I said author, you’re probably freaking out now. One
sec.) Achieving your goals has been easy for you up to this point—you
have never really failed at school or work or anything, but you’re about
to learn a lot about failing. You’re gonna become a pro failer, and
somehow that’ll be more fulfilling than all the time you spent being a
You’ll be a mom, but you won’t be nearly as
good at it as you thought you’d be. It won’t be natural. You won’t want
to be “just a mom” like you expected. You’ll want more and it’ll be
confusing and guilt-inducing. You’ll get over it. Kind of.
then you’ll start writing. Because it’s always been your dream and it
will never go away like you hoped it would. You have always wanted to be
practical and you know writing for a career is not…and you will be very
right about that but you’ll do it anyway because you must. You will try
your ass off (sorry, I say “ass” now, too). You will fail just about
And all that failing at motherhood and writing
will break you. Like, actually break you. You will contemplate leaving
everything you love, emptying the bank account, and disappearing a la
Breakfast At Tiffany’s. You will resent your family and faith and wish
you’d never tried to do anything with your life. You will…start hitting
your kids though you know you shouldn’t and you’ll feel horrible about
it. You will stop going to church, stop wanting your husband, stop
wanting anything you used to love. You’ll be consumed with escape, with
being someone else with less problems. You will, for some stupid reason,
still think you’re okay.
Until you realize you’re not, and that
the pressure in your chest isn’t normal but panic attacks. They’ll
happen daily, and you’ll get so used to it you don’t know it’s a
problem. You’ll be really grateful to that doctor who explains to you
that you have anxiety, and you’ll admit you need help and it’ll be
shameful and liberating all at once. The medication will save your life
and the life of your family, and you will be able to cope for the first
time since you turned 20. I just wish it wouldn’t have taken so long for
me to figure that out, and I’m sorry you have to suffer so long not
knowing there was anything wrong with you.
I’m sorry that it has to get as bad as it got before things get better.
hey, things do get better. And though you aren’t some huge bestseller,
by the age of 31 you are the author of multiple books. That have been on
store shelves. That have been published in other countries. That have
been read and loved by some people. I know, 20 Year Old Me, that this is
a big deal to you. Sometimes I forget it’s a big deal, but then I
remember you and your dreams that felt impossible and I am living the life you wanted. You even have friends
that have stuck with you through all this. I know how hard it was for
you to make friends, but here we are—we even have that. And don’t get me
started on how incredible your husband and kids are.
hang in there. It’s going to be terrible for awhile, but so far the 30s
are treating us much better. I really like the 30s. Or maybe I just
like not being in that horrible 20s decade. We made it, okay? And that’s
what matters, even if the journey was messy.
P.S. Just dye your hair red now—it’s better that way and you never go back to blond.