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What I’d Tell My 20 Year Old Self
A letter to my daughters
I write to you from a long time ago, 2023. I have just turned 40 and celebrated it with you, our extended family and a few of our closest of friends. It was an epic party - full of laughter, dancing and joy. I’ll remember it as long as I live. It also gave me a moment to reflect on the various phases of life. So I hope you read this when you are 20, which is the beginning of your first “adult” decade - no longer protected by your parents and starting to step into your own.
My 20s were a decade of searching - for purpose, for love, for the right job and the right education. It was also a decade of fun and one of infinite possibilities. I would never want to skip that decade, but I also wouldn’t want to be stuck in it forever, because my 30s built on the lessons of my 20s and have set me up for the life I live (and love) today. So with gratitude, love and optimism, here are the 20 things I wish I knew in my 20s that I am passing on to you.
1. Know yourself and find a way to see your worth - this will make your doubt yourself less and enable you to care less about what others think of you and value they assign to you.
2. Be picky about who you listen to - Identify whose opinion matters to you and seek it actively. This should be a small list of people (fit it on a 1x1 inch square). Everyone else’s opinion is noise.
3. Eat more vegetables - really.
4. Get a good night’s sleep - it solves more problems than you think.
5. Spend the money on experiences - take that hot air balloon ride over an African Safari even if the cost seems preposterous
6. Take care of your body - Living with chronic pain for any prolonged period of time sucks the life out of you, so prevent it if you can.
7. Cherish and keep up with your high school and college friends. These people know you in a way no one in your adult life will ever know you.
8. Surround yourself by people who see you and make you be the person you want to be.
9. Have great content on standby - A favorite music list, a good book to read and a tv show to watch makes commutes and evenings more fun.
10. Own your opinions but don’t be a jerk about it. Strong opinions loosely held will take you farther than the other way around.
11. Give grace - Everyone around you is doing their best - the only person’s actions you can influence are your own.
12. Fresh air is underrated - put your shoes on and take a walk especially when you are having a bad day.
13. Keep things in perspective - Reframe any challenge as a lesson the universe is trying to teach you.
14. Be kind to yourself - Talk to yourself the way you’d talk to your friends or loved ones.
15. Be proud of the work that you do - if you are not, try harder.
16. Show up every day with your full self - life is too short to check it in.
17. Be self-sufficient - this is a big one. It encompasses everything from earning enough money to stand on your own feet (and not depend on anyone for it) to not unnecessarily imposing on people when you visit them (ie bring your own toothpaste).
18. Expand your horizons - being curious takes work and an open mind. You are raised with a lot of support and privilege. Get out of your comfort zone and see the world, try new food, push yourself to do the work to better understand the world around you.
19. Plan for success. Stop anticipating failure - not getting the promotion, not getting that call from a love interest. Pre-feeling bad news doesn’t make it sting any less when and if it comes so might as well enjoy today.
20. Believe that your best days are ahead of you - and act accordingly.