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!!!
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.
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.
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?
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…
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!
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.