A letter written to myself at 18 on/around my 28th birthday, discovered mere weeks before my 38th birthday. All still so very relevant.
Quit thinking you must have short hair because you have a long face. You will not look like a horse with long hair, I promise. Also. Wear shorts. You live in Arizona and it’s hot. You do not have unsightly legs, you’re just being ridiculous and clichéd with your needless body image issues.
So. Now that the trivial matters are out of the way.
Your dad always said he pitied those who never got past talking about the glory days of high school—because life is supposed to get better after high school. And I can promise you that it does. You were in a hurry to get out, and that was the right choice. Ten years after you graduate, you’re in a life more fabulous than you ever fathomed possible or thought you deserved.
Nat. To make a very long story short—you’re a rock star. You always have been, you simply let insecurity and fear own too much of your heart and your interactions with others. Quit that soon, because you’ll lose years of your life driving people away until you figure out how to both treat and communicate with them in the spirit of sensitivity and respect. You’re not a nasty person, but let’s be honest—sometimes you’re not a real joy to be around either. Never substitute being clever for being kind. Keep plugging away at self-improvement, you’ll get there. Once you turn the corner and figure out how to love yourself, the number of incredible people in your life will improve exponentially. With years of practice, you’ll transform yourself into a truly sensitive, thoughtful, loyal friend. This will become one of your defining characteristics and people respect this about you.
You’ll learn resiliency as you encounter professional, social, romantic, and spiritual setbacks. You’ll learn to find the silver lining. Don’t focus so much on what’s wrong all the time; find the right and chase after it. In good news, there isn’t true regret, tragedy, or heartbreak looming on the horizon—just the continual heat felt from being in the refiner’s fire. Nat—it’s nothing you can’t handle, so don’t be so afraid. There’s no need to fear life; embrace it.
You’ll learn to love yourself by being completely alone. And alone doesn’t mean lonely dear girl—there’s a key difference. Alone means far from home, able to navigate life with a competence beyond your years. Instead of constantly checking your phone waiting for it to ring, you’ll gleefully check the increasing balance of your savings account and feel like you’ve really made it in the world. You’ll travel… a lot. Yes, because you want to, but also because you can. You learn to make things happen instead of waiting for them to happen to you.
The only true life regret you have at 28 is that you didn’t figure these things out earlier on. But it’s okay; you’d be a different person today if you’d figured it out sooner. And truth be told, you wouldn’t trade the today version of you for a different one. (You worked hard to smooth out all those rough edges!)
And that’s not just a silver lining, but a platinum one.