Dear 20-year-old me,
You’re a rebel. I get it. You shaved your head and dyed it super blonde. You think you’re cool, don’t you? Well, I’ve got a few things to tell you, and I think you should try listening for once in your life. You might learn something…
First, let me say that I think you are an intelligent, creative, sensitive, and compassionate person. You have the world in front of you, and you can do whatever you set your mind to. Don’t let anything or anyone ever stand in your way. Having said that, you must realize that timing is important in life. There will be instances when you will have to wait for stuff. Be patient. Decide what you want. Work toward getting it – work hard – and it will come to you. Also, you are allowed to change your mind about things. No one’s going to hold a gun to your head and say, “Hey, when you were ten, you said that you wanted to be a ‘Chuck E. Cheese dresser-upper’ – now you MUST keep your word.” On the other hand, if you are too fickle, you’ll never get anywhere. At some point, you need to decide on something, and go with it.
Second, you know that guy you are dating right now – keep him. He’s hot. He’s also smart, funny, ambitious, and extremely commitment-oriented. And he’ll age well. Have you seen his father? Seriously though, the fact that he sticks with what he starts will be important when life gets hard – like when you have teenagers and they are giving you attitude, like when you or someone you love gets sick, like when the universe is exploding. OK, so that last example is a little extreme, but you get what I’m saying. When the going gets tough, you want the tough to get going. You don’t want it to walk out the door, and leave you stranded.
And I know that you are eager to procreate with him – it must be hard to keep your hands on the outside of his clothes – but do yourself a favour, use condoms, and finish school first. I know you won’t, but be prepared for a tough road ahead trying to deal with babies while going to school full-time. How tough is it going to be? It’s going to be tough like trying to tie your shoes with pillows on your hands – it’ll be almost impossible. You may even quit before you are finished doing everything that you’d planned to do. Sure, there are perks to having kids at a young age, like by the time they move out – if they EVER move out – you’ll still have a good twenty years or so left to travel the world, and have wild “push me up against the wall” sex with that husband of yours. I’m not saying that you should wait until you are forty either. I just don’t think you need to rush.
Now, when those children DO come along – because oh, they will, and in quick succession – do what feels right for you. Everyone and their brother has an opinion about how to raise a child – don’t hold the baby so much, never allow children to sleep in your bed thereby forcing your husband to sleep on the floor, breastfeeding a three-year-old is kind or creepy, MC Hammer’s “Can’t Touch This” isn’t really a lullaby. Screw everybody else. Go with your gut, and you’ll do fine. If it feels right, then it probably is. If it feels wrong, then tell your husband to stop doing it. Men always mess up. They wouldn’t know a diaper cover from a diaper liner.
Third, I want to remind you that you can’t change people, nor can you force them to do anything. You are responsible for you, and ONLY you. OK, you are responsible for your children as the grow – you need to make sure that they don’t get hit by cars, and that you feed and clothe them – but always remember that they are their own little people, who will grow into big people, who may or may not do things that you want them to. You should support them regardless. They will have their own lives to live, and unless they are off in a crack house somewhere getting high, you need to let them be free. Your parents did that for you, and it will someday be your turn to do that for them.
Fourth, I think it’s important to understand that – as a woman – you are equal to ANY man, and I mean ANY man anywhere ever. I know that you’d say you already know this, but there may be times – and people – who will try to make you feel that this is not the case. Those individuals are idiots. Ignore them.
Also, be proud of your body. It’s going to change, and sometimes it may not look exactly the way you want it to. You are who you are on the inside, and anyone who truly cares about you, won’t be looking at your thighs. So relax. Keep in mind though – and I don’t want to sound like crazy Tom Cruise or anything – but your body is your temple, and you need to respect it. Keep exercising and keep eating healthy. It is a commitment that you make to yourself – a commitment that you MUST keep. Sure, there will be times when you can’t do much – like when you are too tired to even keep your eyes open, because the baby was up all night screaming his bloody lungs out for no apparent reason – but stick with it. Continuity is truly the key. If you do, when you are sixty, you’ll look forty, and when you are ninety, you’ll look seventy. By then, it won’t make much difference, but whatever. Who wouldn’t want that? Also, do the same for your children. Make sure that they are active on a regular basis right from the get-go. This may sound silly and a little hardcore – and no, I’m not suggesting that you force your one-year-old to run laps around the park, though sometimes it could prove helpful – but I’ll tell you this: once you create a habit, it is much easier to maintain it.
Fifth, with regard to negative people – don’t associate with them if you can help it. Sometimes, it’s unavoidable, and then it’s up to you to stay positive. Granted, not everyone’s happy all the time, and in your relationships, you will discover that. But if someone is continually bringing you down, then it’s time to get out. Life is too short.
Sixth – and I know this list is getting long, but bear with me, I’m almost done – please understand that life won’t always be easy. Did I say that already? Well, it’s worth saying again, and again, and again. Don’t expect it. No one owes you a golden toilet. You want to be happy? You need to CHOOSE to be happy.
And finally, ALWAYS, ALWAYS, ALWAYS have a cat (or two or more) in the house. They are the best things on the planet. A dog wouldn’t hurt either. Pets are known to lower your blood pressure. But don’t get another gerbil. Sorry Thumper, but you were the most useless pet ever.
And if you liked that, you might like these…
Looking backward: What we’d tell our 20-year-old selves
50 thoughts on “Some Advice From Me To You – And I AM You, Only Older”
I can so relate to the part about not knowing what to do with your babies – even though I was 28 when my first was born. I guess insecurity knows no age! It sounds like you’ve been through so much – as have we all, it seems!
You and Miley Cyrus look like twinsies with the short blonde hair! I’m not sure I will write the letter to my 20yroldself cos that’d be like oh yeah, you shoulda pursued acting or a medical degree or gone to law school like daddy did and then I’ll get depressed so I probs won’t unless I can make it funny. Loved your post, though!
Oh, this is wonderful!
I had that same bathing suit in 1986 and a couple of guinea pigs that were nothing but trouble.
Really great to have you in GenFab, Fern.
Great post! I love it!
My advice to 20 year old me? Becca, you’re being smart and will for a long time. Don’t Fu&k it up.
I would say that your 20 yr old self took good care of you! You look amazing!
This is great! I was thinking about writing one, too. The problem I am encountering is remembering 1985. There may have been some illegally obtained chemicals in my system that year. So, I’ll just say “ditto” to yours!
Thanks to my first crush who was a big time hockey player. I went to the gym with him. And then my husband, who played football, I went to the gym with him as well. It kinda stuck. But pictures don’t show all the wrinkles and cellulite LOL.
Somehow, I think you got this. 😉
Glad to be here. Oh, God – guinea pigs. They are marginally better than gerbils, but not much LOL!
I’ve shared this on facebook. Good stuff and I’m glad to know you!!!
Yes, me and Miley. BTW, I saw your post, just haven’t had a chance to comment there yet. Thank you for the recipes! I will make one or both very soon and Tweet the pics. YUMMMM!
Great advice, Fern–and yes, going to school while raising kids is possible, but definitely not easy. 🙂 Glad you’ve joined GenFab–hope you enjoy it as much as we do!
I think most of us live very similar lives just in different bodies.
Glad to be here. Thanks to you both!
Thanks Stacia. You’re fab as always.
You are totally welcome to share mine, though I’d kinda like you hear yours. Illegally obtained substances would definitely make it more interesting. 😉
I love this honest and loving letter! Listen young one, but I know you won’t…that was most of us, no?
Great job. The 20 yr old you musta done some good things, cuz look at you now!
I just noticed there is a giant head with feathers sticking out of it in the background of your pic. Spill.
My dad is a funny man. We would always go to the beach as a family every summer, even in the early years of my marriage. And my dad would always make giant sand sculptures. He still does it today if they go away somewhere.
I definitely think that was most of us. Thanks for the kind words!
That’s great. It kind of looks like Wilson from Castaway. LOL!
Great advice. Especially the part about being responsible for yourself.
the middle one had a hamster named thumper. My parents told me all of these things, minus the cat owning, of course. I reiterated every word to my own children. Good post Fern.
p.s. thumper was placed by a drafty window. RIP.
Long list indeed but full of such important advice. Love that subtle reference to some fun, powerful ‘older’ person sex! I’m looking forward to reading more,
Walker, A Woman’s Page
I think I only do “long” lists LOL.
Why didn’t I think about the drafty window scenario. Whoops.
Great stuff. I especially love the reminder that the kids are people with their own lives. So important.
And they remind me of this every day LOL.
I absolutely love all your advice to yourself. Especially the negative people part and the love your body part. (And I wish you could make me exercise, I am trying to get better.) WordPress had a similar challenge this week and I have started a letter to my 14 year old self. Great post!
You come stay with me sometime and I’ll make you exercise [evil grin]. Looking forward to your letter! 🙂
Love this: “tough like trying to tie your shoes with pillows on your hands.” As someone who had three babies by the time she turned 21, I agree that’s a wonderful description of how freakin’ hard being a young mom can be. You obviously have done well, regardless of the pillows. Great post! Welcome to GenFab!
Glad to have found #GenFab, and it’s good to meet you. Glad someone else can feel me pain LOL!
Love the letter! Definitely inspires me : )
It inspires me that it inspires you LOL! Tnanks. 🙂
So glad this was my introduction to you. You are the kind of chick I want to hang with.
Funny thing? At first I though you were looking at a cell phone in that pic, but then I knew that wasn’t possible. Cracked me up that it was a cassette tape. (I think?) 🙂 Ellen
Hi Ellen. Not sure what the heck I’m lookin’ at. Might have been a deck of cards. Can’t remember so far back!
I LOVE LOVE LOVE this! Great post!
I say it, but it’s not the easiest thing in the world, that’s for sure.
Love that haircut!
Great post with lots of wonderful advice.
Thanks Joy! Just read yours. Same to you. Good to know ya! See you around GenFab. 🙂
Lovely to meet you! I can’t relate to kids so young (I had mine later), but otherwise, I was nodding. A lot… And I think your hair was adorable!
Lovely to meet you as well! I was over at your site yesterday. I’ll be back. And it seems lots of people liked the hair. My mother so hated it LOL! I just might do it again someday.:)
That haircut looks adorable on you.
I appreciate being so hard-headed. Nobody could tell me anything. There’s good in that. I’m glad you found our group and that we found you!
I also think it is so important to follow your own heart when raising your children. In the end you are the one who has to live with the choices you made, not the expert you read or your mother-in-law. As a woman who co-slept and breastfed at 3.5-year old, I can say that I have no regrets. I gave my all to the most important thing I’ve ever done, being a mother.
Thanks Chloe. Everyone seems to like the haircut. Maybe I should try it again, or maybe not LOL. I think I’m too old for that now. Glad I found your group too! I’ll be around.
You’re never too old to try a new haircut!
Love the part of the letter about staying away from negative people.
Want to drive your teenagers nuts. Try a new hairdo! Thanks for reminding us that negative people make for bad company.
I just got my hair cut, but not that short. Maybe next time! 😉
Great post! I especially like … you are allowed to change your mind about things. … ain’t that the truth. it doesn’t make you flaky or indecisive or wrong, just human.
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