A Letter to my 20-Something Self

Dear 20-Something Christi:

Put down your frosted lip gloss, stop back-combing your jet black/platinum blonde hair and toss that Ed Hardy shirt aside because WE NEED TO TALK. This is your 30 Something self coming in hot, and you- my grungy babe with the heavy black winged eyeliner, are in for a comeback hotter than a scrunchy tied to a crop top. Future you is coming up on the ripe old age of 32 and I need to talk to you about your 20-something life. But please don’t throw your VonDutch trucker hat at me in anger, because shit is about to go down.

In your world it is 2009. You’re 21 going on 22 and you’re almost ready to graduate from college with your Bachelor’s Degree. You have grand plans to become the most incredible Business Woman with your Business Degree and your fancy pant suit you borrowed from Tina down the hall. Plus, you’ve seen Romy and Michelle’s High School Reunion like 50 times so you’ve pretty much got this whole Business Woman thing (and post-it note thing) in the bag. You’ve got your new job all lined up and you don’t even have to start making payments on your student loans for like 3 months! Ahhhh freedom is a mere iPod Shuffle skip away and you can hear the independence of adulthood ringing louder than a Nextel Chirp. You’re stoked to finally become a TRUE adult and have all of your childish problems go away so you can have steady, grown up ones instead.

Before you stop by the bar for your last Thirsty Thursday $1 Draft PBR and get home from smuggling a crunch wrap supreme smooshed onto shots of whiskey into the movie theater, you start thinking about your bright future and swear a NEW YOU is in the making. You start writing out your expenses and realize you’re pretty much a millionaire once you hear your starting pay will be around $30,000 a year. You start day dreaming about how awesome this new life you were always promised is going to be. With all the hard work you just put in these past 21 years of your life, you revel in the smoothly paved, straight-as-an-arrow path of adulthood up to success mountain that you were always promised once you graduated from college. With all of the bullshit you are dealing with now (inside and out), this new you and future extravagant life will be so perfect once you get your big girl job. Toss a dog, husband, kids, big house and your white picket fence in the mix and life sounds as electrifying as Michael Scott on Award Night at the Dundee’s. Of course, all of these problems and issues with self confidence and self care will also disappear once things start calming down in the real world. But seriously, how could life possibly get any busier and chaotic than it is right now? There is so much pressure from parents, school, and comparison through friends that you honestly don’t know what all these 30 somethings are complaining about when they literally have it ALL!!!

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20-something Christi, I need a fucking ladle to scoop these eyeballs out from the back of my head. Can you pick up the sarcasm I’m laying down? It’s as thick as that avalanche of Aqua Net that’s taking over that Snooky poof in your hair. I know you think you’re struggling now, and you are in your own way; but there is something you need to know. You think that struggle will disappear ONCE you get that job, ONCE you get that house, ONCE you find that perfect guy, ONCE you have mini you’s running around. But the struggle will NEVER EVER EVER STOP. This is when the naive impression of adulthood gets over-shadowed by real life and when you start falling down a deep, dark hole of never being or having enough because you are chasing this non-existent, perfectly happy mirage of adult life.

“We are the daughters you told ‘you can be anything’ and we heard ‘you have to be everything’,” From the book – Perfect Girls, Starving Daughters by Courtney E. Martin.

This is also when I need to pull up a chair, sit in it backwards, put my hat on sideways, and give you the “I’m the cool mom” talk.

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Because of that skewed perception of adulthood, past mistakes and pain from your past, you turned into this amorphic people-pleasing creature, stripped of all self confidence, infused with admonishing insecurities, and a head that can only nod in a “yes” motion. Somewhere down this discouraging and impossible road of perfection and having to do it all, you kept beating yourself up because you couldn’t keep up with your flawlessly impaired vision of the future. You started telling yourself that you weren’t good enough, pretty enough, or smart enough. And you believed it

This lead you down a daunting path of self destruction. If somebody got offended by your goals, you backed off of them. If somebody didn’t like the way you acted, you became a chameleon and changed your personality to fit who they think you should be. If you didn’t feel like drinking one night but all your friends told you that you were being a weenie, you drank anyway because you didn’t want to be different and feel left out.

“You were being governed by the habits, fears and opinions of others.” -Les Brown.

You were so scared of not becoming everybody’s favorite person that you lost yourself for the fear of not being loved. And when you do try and find yourself in your late 20’s and early 30’s, you will have the hardest time trying to dig through all the facades while figuring out which one is truly yours.

You let your fears become wild and untamed. You beat yourself up for not being perfect but then judged others for what you perceived as perfect. The metaphorical black eyes were cathartic and legitimized because you thought you deserved them. It almost felt like a badge of honor when you could validate your short comings with the imperfections of others. You were a masochist that egged on your verbally abusive inner critic and searched for pain to try and punish yourself for not being perfect.

DUDE… START RESPECTING YOURSELF.

Because that person that you’re waiting on to do it for you will never come. IT HAS TO BE YOU. Stop waiting for someone to laugh at your jokes, stop looking at yourself in disgust as you get out of the shower, stop buying the size 8 jeans when you know you’re a 10 just so you can tell all your friends you had to go a size down. Stop looking at your friends when the waiter comes by and asks if you want dessert hoping they get that “let’s be bad together” look you’re trying to ESP their way. Stop trying to talk about football with your guy friends when you know you only have that 5 minutes of sports talk radio that you heard on the way to the grocery store under your belt. Stop hoping the pretty girl doesn’t show up to the pool party so you won’t get shown up in your tank-ini while she rocks her barely-there bikini in her perfect bod.

WHO IN THE HELL ARE YOU TRYING TO IMPRESS?! And do they even matter? Because that guy you were trying to throw googly eyes to at the bar is now living in his Mom’s basement, has 5 cats, and “works for the state” while he volunteers his time picking up trash on the side of the road in an orange jump suit. Do you realize that your insecurities blare the brightest when you’re trying to hide them? Seriously, it’s like a teenage boy trying to hide his boner after watching the Christina Aguilera ‘Dirty’ video.

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You think you’re in this unique box that has been viciously cast aside. When in reality, you were tossed right by another unique box and another one and another one. We are all unique boxes that feel cast aside. But here’s the kick in the bedazzled jean butt… WE ARE ALL MISFITS AND WE ARE ALL INSECURE. That girl that you think has the perfect life and the one you’re currently trying to compete with is feeling the EXACT same way you do. She is scared, feels unprepared, and is just as terrified about her life as you are.

You are at your best when you are not feeling judged or criticized. So forgive yourself for the abuse, forgive yourself for the past, forgive yourself for hurting others and forgive those who have hurt you.

Now, are you ready for the tough love part tougher than knowing that Blink 182 will one day become Classic Rock and played on the easy listening station?

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Speaking as your future (badass) self, it took me forever to finally realize that when we are unhappy it’s because we are not progressing anymore. Think about it: we graduated from college, got a job, got a husband, got a house, a dog, had kids… soooo now what? We have no more goals to achieve by societies standards. So we wear ourselves to the bone trying to search for some meaning in our life. We work a job we hate, go home to a house that reminds us of all the projects it needs done, work out because we have to and not because we want to, and stay up until midnight to make those Pinterest cookies for daycare because we don’t want to be the mom that brings the store-bought ones to the party. (PS you will end up being that Mom that brings in the store-bought cookies.) #dealwithit

Just getting by is killing us, Christi! What happened to your dreams as a kid of becoming the big director for the next Mary Kate & Ashley movie, the cat veterinarian for homeless Kitty Kitty Kittens, or the next Business Woman of America (I totally made that up #shutup). I cry just thinking about the bright, energetic and creative little girl you once were because you shoved her down into a hopeless pit of despair and forgot about her. You grew into an uninspired people-pleaser who has no self confidence, no inner courage and no sense of self worth. You do not understand the potential that is curled up in a ball inside of you. BE THE PERSON YOU NEEDED WHEN YOU WERE YOUNGER!

You are worth so much more than what your inner critic is telling you. You are valuable and you matter.  Keep progressing and don’t try and tiptoe around the struggles because you will get beat down in your life and after a big-bad (and very scary one, I might add) you will finally find the strength to make it build you. You start this process in your late 20’s and slowly start to listen to your issues instead of shoving them down a muddy butt crack of shame. You bring up the hard things and start investigating them. You start journaling and reading books… well, more like listening to them on Audiobook because you’re a Mom of two now and you’ve got about as much free time as Tiger Woods on a Waffle House Tinder App (you’ll get this reference in about 10 years). You start to listen for hurtful cues towards yourself and examine why that self talk is surrounding you. Plot twist: 99% of the time it stems from a subconscious insecurity, not because Amanda actually  has a better rack than you. For God sake, woman…

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You are worth so much more than what TV tells you, than what Facebook tells you, than what your friends tell you. My dear sweet girl, who are you? You are a body living in other peoples lives and you have no clue about your own. Spend some time with yourself. I know you can’t even stand being alone in a room without the TV, music or something on to distract you from talking to yourself; but get to know who you really are because she is FUCKING RAD. Have the courage to rustle up the past and bring that pain to life. See it for what it is and learn from it. Talk about who you want to be and who you are un-becoming.

Darling, you need to love yourself first and you need to stop trying to control your external environment. The environment inside is the only one that needs to change and from there, you can change the world by changing yourself. You were born to BUILD and you were put here on this earth to help others. I wish I could tell you that you won’t experience another episode of getting knocked down by life’s viscous baseball bat, but it’s coming. However, don’t change that for the world. Don’t wish against it, don’t try and tiptoe around it, go in with guns blazing and FIGHT. Because you are worth fighting for. That’s right, you actually turn out to be pretty cool. You eventually give up on perfection and start working towards progress. THAT’S when you become unstoppable.

So I guess I will just save this letter and not send it to 365 Time Hop Lane. Because you need to go through the struggles because they are what make you.

My dear, you are now 32 years old and I cannot wait to write to you again in 10 years. You are meant for greatness. Buckle up, because shit is about to get LIT!

 

 

Love,

Your Hero (that’s you in 10 years ; )

P.S. Invest your entire life savings on Pinterest, Facebook, Instagram & Snapchat. Oh, and burn all of your R. Kelly CD’s. He’s a monster.

I Hope You Fail

 

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YOU: “What did she just say?”

ME: “Hear me out, because it all stems from a place of concern and love for you, your emotional and giddy New Year’s Resolutional state, and your Pinterest board labeled -Baby Got Back-2019 Fitspiration.”

As the New Year approaches and resolutions are flying through your head like your toddler flying through the house after hearing the chip bag being opened, you’re wondering what your NEW ME will look like this year. Which goal are you going to conquer as the NEW YOU juts out your Wonder Woman bosom with a diaper in one hand and a barbell in the other and scream “DIE, BABY SHARK!!” You’re scavenging your mind in hopes to find the perfect plan of action for a more self confident, patient, organized and stronger version of yo-bad-self.

My biggest hope in all of this life changing glory my friend, is that you fail.

I’m talkin’ face in the dirt, cry your heart out, throat punched by a kangaroo, titty twister until your nipple falls off… FAIL!

So let’s get started, shall we?

There’s something about a New Calendar Year that makes everyone want to get a fresh start. It’s the equivalent to starting a diet on a Monday morning instead of a Thursday at 5pm. Regardless, it’s a chance for us all to reflect on our past year and create improvements to make us happier, more fulfilled, and better versions of our previous selves. HOPE is the drug of choice right now. But let’s get real, we are all a bit older and as the thought of losing 20 pounds creeps through our minds, our main goal is to really start making this health and fitness thing a lifestyle. However, our I-want-it-now Millennial Mom brains just have this knack to want to put the proverbial minivan before the horse.

Does this sound familiar? You start a super restrictive and strict diet around 1,200 calories a day and start working out 6 days a week when you were previously only working out 0-1 days a week. You think to yourself, “Yeah, let’s jump start this bad bitch to achieve maximum results in a short period of time. Then after I’m skinny, I will slowly start to incorporate normal life back in. I know I’ve tried this before, but this time it will work!!” You swear off anything with carbs, sugar or taste in it and unknowingly create a slow and progressive happiness deficit that soon comes to bite you in the cauliflower crusted ass. It all goes pretty well for a couple weeks until you have a random work party to go to on a Friday night and all hell breaks loose. That diet that just lost you 7 counterfeit pounds in the first week came at the cost of dietary restriction that deceivingly made you crave those things even more. The more you put boundaries on food, the more you thought about it. Even when you weren’t truly craving it.

QUICK! Don’t think about the color yellow! Now, what color is a banana? That kind of thing.

Yeah, that party just turned into an all you can eat buffet for one and you just morphed into a ravenous beast hovering over the food table shoveling brownie bites and fried chicken in your pie-hole (which coincidentally already had pie in it) while washing it down with a vat of liquid cheese straight from the crock-pot. It’s okay Karen, it’s just 3rd degree burns on my tongue, it will heal with ice cream and tears from my dead and shamless soul.

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A vicious thundercloud of guilt storms over your bed as you lay there at night wondering in bewilderment how your beast got out of its supposedly ironclad, upgraded and fully loaded version 2.019 cage. You wake up with a Kentucky Fried Hangover and pray to the porcelain Gods that you don’t throw up when you bend over to dig out your sweatpants of the storage bin labeled -Maternity Clothes.-

Well, my dear, you failed. Yes, you fucking failed because as predicted, life happened and you followed the same patterns and mindsets as you did last year. So you say “screw it!” It’s now Saturday Morning and I might as well just eat like shit the rest of the week because I have that Birthday Party to go to tonight so I’ll just start again fresh on Monday. So Monday rolls around and you ended up catching that awesome Daycare bug that your son brought home, so you decide to say ‘fuck it’ again and start again next week. This vicious cycle goes on and on until a month has passed and you are now a part of the 80% who have already ditched their New Year’s resolution before February 1st.

GUILT sets in and you say to yourself, “Seriously, I did this AGAIN? What is wrong with me? Why can’t I have will power like that fit chick on Instagram? Why can’t I just get it done? I’ve lost weight before and I know it works, so why can’t I repeat that?”

So you fucked up again and in your mind, you failed. GOOD. Now get up and fail again.

Greg Plitt put it this way: Failures are like report cards. They give you marks on what you did well and on where you need to improve. What you don’t realize is that you’ve already taken this class that you’ve failed at. Failing is equal to learning so by failing you just learned a different way not to do that again. So you are already one step ahead of the game because now you can go into that class again knowing how to fail, understanding those patterns, then changing them to create a more successful plan of action. Failures are a part of the recipe for success. Not butter, Paula Dean.

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Get out your Bill Nye thinking caps on and start investigating what went wrong?

Was it your lack of willpower? Could it possibly be an error filled plan of action that took you off course? Were you too restrictive to the point to where you were destined to fail? Why is it that some days it’s easier to control and other days when Mom pulls out her homemade peanut brittle, you fold faster than T-Rex in a camping chair. Maybe the problem wasn’t in the lack of dedication, maybe it was the mindset you had about it. Did you ever stop to think restricting carbs and sugar shouldn’t be a long term goal if you wanted balance? Did you ever stop to think that if you wanted balance, maybe starting off like Usain Bolt outta the gates wasn’t such a great idea? “But my friend Kelly did it and she looks amazing!” Take off your Nikes, Bolt. You’re not your friend Kelly and you do not have the same metabolic system she has, you have your own. You do not have her same schedule, family life, work life, home life, etc. Stop looking at other people’s goals and start focusing on your own.

Mastin Kipp describes this so beautifully in his book , Claim Your Power. -The problem isn’t your discipline or you’re will power. You genuinely want to better your life but you don’t have an adequate map of how to get there. The truth is, you’re stuck in the same mindset, environmental patterns, and beliefs systems of your peers. You’re going up against a lifetime of behavior, emotional stories and beliefs. We create a never ending cycle of guilt shame and regret while never understanding why we are stuck. Challenge your survival patterns…. You need to get uncomfortable, you need to fail, you need to fall, you need to swallow that belly full of white dog shit, turn to the person next to you, give them a poopy smile and say ‘All right let’s do it all over again’. OK, that last part was me, but you get it.

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When I failed, I used to take it as a lay down and die moment. Being a former eating disordered person, I can tell you that I have failed many times before in the fitness game. I’ve failed so much that I started to notice patterns in my disordered eating habits. For example: I would overeat when I felt scared, sad, depressed, overwhelmed, or unloved. I would also overeat under peer pressure, working too much, when the boys started acting up or living under a restricted meal plan for too long. Food was my tiny reward that made me feel good… for a moment. When that moment wore off, I wanted to re-live it. Food needed me when I felt like no one else did. I felt safe around it. I felt like I deserved to eat shitty foods because I was a shitty person and I deserved to feel like shit. This vicious cycle went on and on until I finally changed my patterns. It sucked, it was uncomfortable and none of my other friends were going through this so I had no one to talk to. But I learned from every mistake until I finally recovered. These triggers still tug at my emotional cords, but I am better equipped at creating new patterns to manage them now because I learned how.

This is why it’s so hard to change because our patterns become us. Our brains have not evolutionarily changed in the past 2 million years so they’re designed to constantly seek comfort and safety. This means that anytime you do something different or step out of your box, your brain signals a red flag and tells you to back off, it’s not safe, you could fail, get hurt, get eaten by a flying-dinosaur-bird-thing, or you will get judged and people won’t accept you. Your brain will always ALWAYS try to nudge you to safety. So fight it! You’re not broken, it’s just a different pattern that’s running you right now.

As Tony Robbins says, (and yes I quote him in EVERY single blog I write because he’s a genius, God’s gift to the human race, and a Golden Demigod of all that is right in this world.)

-“Our biggest problem is that we think we shouldn’t have them.”

We will always have problems and we will always have failures, yet we try so hard to tip toe around them. BUT WHYYYYYYYYYY? If we live so cautiously to try and not get hurt, try to please others, or hope we don’t offend anyone with our gifts, is that really living? We ever-so-cautiously dip our toe into the pool of risk, then realize it’s too cold, run back to our lounge chair and order another comforting daiquiri. “UMMM I ASKED FOR A SLICE OF STRAWBERRY IN THIS!!! Ughhh… why does nothing ever go right for me?!”  When instead, what we really need to do is WOMAN THE FUCK up and jump in knowing that we will get cold and wet, drown for a bit, and possibly encounter a pool shark. Anyone else have that irrational fear as a kid?

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Our brain goes back to the caveman days and thinks that it’s being chased by a prehistoric land lizard and the stress tells your brain that you’re in trouble. Except your not being chased by Zilla the O.G. Instead, your fear comes from Millennial Mom problems. Like, when you’re desperately trying to clean up the projectile vomit your son just missiled across the floor before your dog starts eating it, then your baby starts crying because he ran out of cheerios in his high chair and what’s that burnt smell? OH MY GOD THE TURKEY BURGERS ARE BURNING!! Buzzzzzzzzz, laundry is done! Pop quiz hot-shot Mom, WHAT DO YOU DO? Your patterns tell you to destroy an entire sleeve of Graham Crackers smothered in peanut butter topped with chocolate chips and whipped cream while you crack open a bucket of cookie dough you got from the Little Caesars Fundraising Kit your neighbor’s daughter was selling, microwave that bad boy for a couple minutes and go to town. #coping

You don’t get to know yourself without struggle. If it weren’t for my disordered eating days of bingeing, purging, laxative abuse and obsessing over every inch of my body; I wouldn’t be writing this extremely humbling and hopefully helpful blog today. Who I have become stems from how I dealt with my struggles.

Through my journey, I’ve learned that pressure can create diamonds or it can bust pipes. Don’t forget that YOU get to choose which one you become. I can specifically recall two horrific events in my life that brought me to my knees. I let the first incident destroy me and forced the second one to build me. It all started when I stopped playing the victim and started taking control of what was mine.

“Once you control the man inside of you, the man outside doesn’t matter.” – Tony Romo

So when you think about your New Year’s Resolutions and how you want to change or how you want to be a better person, don’t go into the New Year with the same mind and patterns from last year. The thing that needs to change is YOU. You need to tell your mind to take off the helmet, mouth-guard, life jacket, safety bubble and jump the fuck in. Seriously, you look like Uncle Eddie’s stunt double from Christmas Vacation. You need to know that you’re going to fail, you’re going to fail often, and you need to know that you will fail early in this voyage. HARD TRUTH? You’re going to fail anyway. Even at the little things. So why not fail going balls to the wall? Don’t wait until Monday to start again, start the next day, start the next hour, start the next meal.

Have you heard about about Depression Panda? Mark Manson describes this character in his book, The Subtle Art of Not Giving a Fuck, as a blunt, say it like it is, Sombrero wearing Panda with a fruity drink in his hand. He comes into your life when you say, “I don’t have time to workout. I work full time and take care of my kids. How can I meal prep when healthy food is so expensive. I just don’t have the energy because I’m so busy. No one is as busy as me. Plus, I’ve got a family and I’ll just be robbing them of my time.” Mr. Depression Panda struts in with his colorful hat, unapologetic eyes, takes a sip of his cocktail and blatantly says, “I CALL BULLSHIT. You’re just scared and that’s why you’re not going through with it. You’re afraid that you’ll get made fun of if you start something new like Crossfit or Bodybuilding because you’ve never done it before. You’re scared that going into a gym already fat will mean that you just went a thousand steps backwards because you used to be an athlete in High School and picking up a 5 lb kettlebell is just demeaning. You don’t feel like you have the perfect plan yet so you’re waiting until you find the PERFECT one when in reality, there is no perfect plan. You just need to START! But what if you do succeed? Then you have an irrational fear to keep up this lean appearance and workout every single day for the rest of your life and that is daunting to you. And don’t crap on my heart by saying you won’t have time for your family. That time you spend shoving an iPad in your kids face at night while you start your next Netflix Marathon could be used to Meal Prep and Pinterest a new workout plan.”

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What it all comes down to, what your Depression Panda is really trying to tell you is that fear is ruling your life. You’re telling yourself a story that hasn’t happened yet and you’re believing it. Change that pattern and thought process and you will change your life.

What is really holding you back? It’s you. Change will be hard and it will be painful, but expect that. Expect the bruised knees, the hurtful comments, and the dirt thrown in your face. Expect it and accept it. THAT is courage. Courage is knowing you are going to fail but doing it anyway.

JOURNAL THIS SHIT OUT: Some questions to ask yourself… (Don’t forget about Depression Panda. He should be making his grand entrance right about now.)

  1. What changes have you made to upgrade your mental state for this coming year?
  2. What will it take to make you proud of yourself?
  3. What are you doing to move towards failure and away from certainty?
  4. What permission are you waiting for to become the person you were meant to be?
  5. Suffering is a lack of connection. Where are you feeling disconnected?

I will leave you with this quote from -T.D. Jakes

“Maybe the journey isn’t so much about becoming anything. Maybe it’s about unbecoming everything that isn’t you. So you can be who you were meant to.”

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Written with love, hope and shark-less pools, by Christi Brown