Monday, July 5, 2010

A letter to your 20-year-old self.

A few days ago while driving, I heard this NPR piece and thought it was really interesting. 

Say you're in your 30s or 40s and you could write a letter to your 20-year-old self. What would you say?

That's the request Cassie Boorn, a 22-year-old college student and single mom in Davenport, Iowa, made on her blog. She needed advice, so she asked some of her older fellow bloggers to write letters to their younger selves.
I thought for a moment about what I might be say to my 20-year-old self.  Then my children started screaming in the backseat and suddenly I was giving my 20-year-old self a list of why she should not have children and if she did, she should wait until she had enough money to hire a nanny, and maybe a housekeeper, and a personal trainer, all of this punctuated with various expletives (in my head, of course).  It is a little disturbing the things you think when your brain turns to mush as a result of the screaming, oh the screaming.  That was the end of that.

It was the end of that until, an amazing site that answers pretty much every breastfeeding question under the sun accurately, shared on their facebook page this post of someone taking a stab at a letter to their 20-year-old self as a result of the NPR segment. 

Where was I when I was 20?
The year of 20 was a pretty busy year for me.  I was newly engaged.  I served as Program Director at a camp in Wisconsin for the summer.  I completed my last semester of college along with my undergraduate thesis and graduated.  I moved home for six months to finish planning my wedding while substitute teaching.  I joined Weight Watchers and a gym managing to lose forty pounds.  My fiance graduated from seminary on my twenty-first birthday and two weeks later he had been ordained and we had been married.

What would I tell myself?
Disclaimer: I've used the backspace key more in writing this than ever before.  My thoughts have ranged from bitter and passive-aggressive to my past self and her mistakes to sugar-coated dishonesty.  In the end, I've tried to be honest and strike a balance between things I really wish I had known then to avoid regrets and celebrating the wisdom of the last eight years.  (Yep, I'm only twenty-eight- laugh, snicker, and get over it).  I think what was most interesting for me was finding that the advice I had for my twenty-year-old self is some of the same advice I need to hear right now.

Those girls you barely knew when you moved into Quarry North 102 will be some of your best friends for at least the next ten years, and I have no doubt much longer.  Cherish them.

The amount of accomplishments you gather and obligations you pile on do not directly correlate to your happiness. In fact, they might have an inverse relationship.

Slow down. Seriously, just slow down. Stop looking at what's next and wishing you could get this over with to get to that. You'll always have a this and that, and you'll miss out on so much.

Save money, as much of it as possible.  You will have more dispensable income in the coming years than you'll ever have once you choose to stay home with your children.  Throw away your credit cards.

Cook.  Learn to cook. Learn to bake.  Do it regularly.  Do it as a couple, and by yourself.  Doing it now will save you ridiculous amounts of money in the long run, and you'll enjoy it!

Don't stop exercising.  You started. You found a healthy way of life.  Don't give up!  These are habits you want to live with for life.

When you're twenty-eight with two kids, nobody's going to give a shit about your degrees or how smart you are.  Find something else to make you happy.

Don't ever let go of your love of the outdoors.  Make room for it, daily.  You are happier and healthier when you do.

Don't stop writing. Don't stop reading. Every year you are out of school, you'll get dumber.  Slow it down as much as you can.

Learn to keep an organized and clean home in the beginning of your marriage.  Do it together.  It will be so much easier then than when life gets crazier and kids are added into the mix.  Start good habits.

Don't be surprised when your friendships seriously change (and sometimes disappear) as you from single to married to, gasp, a mother of two.  Mourn the loss and move on.  It's all you can do.

Soak up every minute of your senior semester of college.  For years, you will look back and long for the time that your 4 best friends lived just down the hall, especially when the closest is hours away.

Dance.  Whatever you have to do to keep dancing, just do it.  You love it.  It makes you happy.

Go to church.  Every Sunday.  Find one you like.  Find one you don't like.  Church hop, whatever, it doesn't matter.  Just go.  You get more out of it than you realize.

And in the end, you're going to be that mom.


On their facebook page, asked her followers a slightly different question in what would you say to yourself as a brand new mom.  I'll have to think on that one.


  1. Not only did this post make me want to cry only because the thought of writing my own, I would just's sad when you think how fast time goes and how you wish you knew what you know FIVE years younger than me? Sigh...LOL

  2. What an awesome idea!! I loved it. I loved your disclaimer too. You sound so much like me. I think I may try to do this.

  3. Hilary - haha!

    Mandie - I'd love to read yours!


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