Passionate About the Community
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A Letter to My 20-Year-Old Self

Dear me, from 15 years ago,

Hello dear friend! I know it may seem silly to write you this letter, but I think about you a lot. I look back upon this time in our life with such fondness. I often think about the unique independence college afforded, and how much that influenced this formative time in my life. There were so many ups and downs, and looking back I wish I’d worried less about the downs and focused more on embracing the ups. In that vein, I do have a few words of wisdom to pass along, even though if I know you well enough, you are too stubborn to take advice from anyone (even me!)

*First of all, I just have to tell you how amazing you look in those jeans. In fact, that is the best you will ever look in a pair of pants (trust me on this one). So stop obsessing in the mirror and go out already!

*He’s not worth it, I promise. There is someone perfect for you, waiting for you, anticipating our first date, ready to treat you with all the love, respect, and affection you deserve. Stay strong.

*Make a few mistakes. It’s ok to try something outrageous or crazy every once and awhile. I know, I know, mistakes feel horrible and embarrassing, but trust me on this one, you need to live it up a little more before you become a “grown up.” It’s much easier now when you have few responsibilities or obligations to anyone other than yourself.

*So, there’s good news and bad news. The bad news is- shocker- you are not going to grow another foot and become a size 0 model. It’s just not in our cards. The good news? You’ve got a pretty rockin’ bod as it is, so try to embrace it. You will save us years of strife and crazy dieting if you’d just accept us the way we are now so we can move on to more important things.

*Call your grandmother more. She misses you and wants to hear from you, but also doesn’t want to bother you (I know, it’s complicated). Just pick up the phone and call her.

*Take a class that has nothing to do with your major, and enjoy it without worrying about the grade you get. Actually study to learn something, not just to make a top grade on the test.

*Challenge yourself by doing more things outside the ordinary. It’s the unexpected and off-the-beaten-path adventures that we will remember most fondly.

*Stop complaining that you’re too busy or don’t have time. You have NO IDEA how much time you have right now. Being lazy is fine, but let’s not confuse it with busy. You’ll learn more about busy once you’re in your thirties…

*Spend less time trying to impress people and more time learning about yourself. Experiment with what makes you truly happy- what excites you, what motivates you, what bores you. Focus on finding people who make you laugh, wonder, try new things, and appreciate you as is.

*He’s not worth it either. Really. He’s a nice guy and all, but your soul mate is waiting. Have patience.

*Keep running. This habit will get you through some very stressful times, so thanks for keeping us in shape.

*That “B” you got in Organic Chemistry- GET OVER IT ALREADY. No one cares.

*Soak up every possible second with your sisters. This is the last time you will all live in the same state, so make time to see them and enjoy every minute of it (and get back those shirts that B “borrowed” from you while you’re at it).

*He’s not worth it, either. Really, not even worth those tears. Here’s a tissue and let’s move on.

*If there is one thing I would change, just one thing, it would be-for the love of God- to have more confidence. Embrace the fact that you feel things deeply and form strong opinions. It’s good to be assertive and to speak your mind, even if others don’t agree with you. Start practicing now, because these are life skills that will get us far in our career.

*My final food for thought: Embrace this incredibly unique time with your friends, and try to worry less about things that truly don’t matter. You are defined by so much more than your weight or your GPA. These things may seem important now, but when I look back at this time in our life, I don’t remember what size I was or even that grade in Biochem. What I do remember is all the fun adventures I had, and the deeply intimate connections I made that will rarely happen again in your adult life. So stop worrying about what other people think about you. Embrace yourself and everything that you are, because trust me, you are pretty freakin’ awesome.

Now if only I could guess what my 50-year-old self would be advising me…

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