I found a photo album the other day that was littered with pictures of my early twenties. I had to sit for a while and really look through it. Of course, I thumbed through slowly, laughed at a few things, remembered a few others, and reflected on some days where worries seemed few and late nights seemed many. A lot, I mean A LOT has changed in 10 years. I didn't know the amazing man I would call my husband. I thought having kids was not for me- ever. I thought a good workout was a pub crawl on a Sunday afternoon, and the word responsible wasn't something I would have used to describe myself. I look at that girl in those pictures. That young, intimidated, carefree, wild child, and think of how lost she was, how she was trying to find herself in a sea of women trying to do the same, and how thirty-two year old me would have loved to hold her hand and steer her down a path of confidence and determination.
Dear Twenty-Two Year Old Me,
Hey girl. How's it going? Just waking up? It is noon, you know. Those late nights working at the bar, going out with friends, eating Jack-in-the-Box until 3 AM, they're not doing much for your complexion, let alone your health. What do you say we get out of bed today, dust off those running shoes, and sweat out those vodkas you had last night? I'm pretty sure you could use some endorphins to get your head right.
I saw you crawl into your bed last night and cry softly into your pillow. I don't know what's going on but I can tell you this: you are too pretty to shed those tears over a boy, or a backhanded compliment, or an unnecessary argument with a friend. You can do better. There will be a time when you look back on these days and think "That was completely not worth my tears", and you will be right. There will be a time when you look back on these days and think, "Why was I so concerned with what other people thought of me and not concerned enough with what I thought of myself." You can be the shiniest, juiciest apple on the tree, and there is still going to be someone who hates apples. You can't make everyone happy, so focus on making you happy.
You need to jump out of that bed and move, sister! Get your butt in gear! Do something amazing! You have a brain in your head! Use it! Throw out those feelings of sadness, regret, fear, loneliness, and sail that ship into happy harbor. Park it there for a while. Get to know yourself. You have amazing qualities. Why can't you see them? You have so much potential, why not go after it? You are beautiful, know that. I mean, really know that. Inside and out.
There is this incredible world out there, so much more than what you can imagine, and just so you know, you're not alone. Although you may feel like the only 22 year old girl who's ever been broken up with, or cheated on, or not invited by a friend to go somewhere that probably wasn't all that great anyway, or passed up for someone who honestly did work a little harder, you're not. And although you may feel like (insert aforementioned scenario here) was the worst thing that could have happened, it wasn't. It was a stepping stone leading you to this incredible, strong, determined woman you're about to become. It helped give you the strength you need to stand up for yourself, to know what you're looking for in a man and to know what you're not. It'll give you lessons that a mom of three very different, very fragile, and very determined little ladies will benefit from as they grow into a world that can be very scary. But they will have you as this fearless warrior to lead them into battle, armed with the tools that you've acquired by traveling a journey that was only meant for you.
Twenty-two year old self, you are an incredible woman. I know you may not know it yet, and it may take you a while to realize it, but one day you'll wake up and you'll see it, and you'll know that everything you've ever longed for, has been with you the entire time.
Your biggest fan