Dear 16-year old me,
On the cusp of my/your 26th birthday, I find myself thinking back on the last 10 years with equal parts awe and pride. Thinking of where I thought I would be in life as an anxious 16-year-old girl and where I am are a world away from each other. So let me tell you, girl, you need to start learning to relax.
Here’s the sitch on the last 10 years:
The friends you have now may seem wonderful, but soon you will learn that heartbreak doesn’t only come from romantic relationships but friendships as well. It will hurt but will teach you that it’s okay to start over with relationships and you will meet your people.
You go to an amazing university (one you’ve never even heard of yet!), meet an amazing guy you are still with after almost 8 years (I know, I can’t believe it either), make an amazing group of friends, and live abroad in your dream city- London, baby!
You move to the city of angels after graduation to follow your dreams and hate it. The pressure of making it, the toxic culture, and the overall reality bubble of college getting popped gets to you and all you want is what you know. You leave to start your own business, struggling to make it work for two years before a global pandemic puts you and everyone in this world on hold for an entire year.
Oh, and you get the most wonderful puppy that makes your every day just that much brighter.
So, here we are; ten years later, trying to figure out what you want life to look like in a world that is alien to what you know. You still struggle with anxiety on a daily basis, but during this time of uncertainty, you have found some clarity about yourself.
I won’t claim to know everything — in fact, I really feel like I am having to relearn all I know, but this is what I’ve figured out so far.
- Make decisions with your life in mind: no one has ever forced you into any decision, but your need to please everyone has forced you to upset the one person that matters, yourself. You have dreams and they will ebb and flow as you experience more things in life and guess what? That’s okay. The people that love you only want you to be happy — they may have their own ideas of what that is — but you are the one living those choices. Make them your own.
- Life is short: I know this is a cliche but it has never rung more true than after this year. It has forced everyone to quarantine, fear for the lives of their loved ones, learn what an “essential job” truly is, and at the end of the day, re-evaluate what we all thought we knew about life. You’ve found a new purpose and it gives you an immense amount of relief and anxiety in equal measure, but ultimately it brings you peace. Peace in that you are starting to listen to yourself.
- The key to start finding happiness: Stop caring about the opinions of others. Stop comparing yourself to those Instagram photos that have yet to take off, stop thinking you’re unsuccessful because you aren’t a millionaire by the age of 26. Just live what you love. Focus on the small things — what makes you laugh, brings you peace, what calms that constant storm living inside of you.
Now, these are lessons you are still grappling with and trying to impart in your everyday life, but you are taking minor steps every day to learn more about yourself and follow these steps for a more authentic you.
At (almost) 26 you are starting over. Listening to yourself. Learning to re-love yourself. And you are okay.
So relax, study hard, and listen to your mom. She’s right most of the time (That’s always supposed to be the best advice right? Well, in this case, it’s true).
Life is weird and wonderful. Start learning to go with the flow, because life is going to throw you on a path you never would expect.
Peace out girl,
the older and maybe wiser you