Candace Ganger
November 30, 2015 9:37 am

Dear 20-something me,

Now that I’m totally rocking my 30’s, finally settling into who I am (and loving it), I need to tell you a few important things before you skip through this important decade without notice. You may think you have it all figured out but trust me — you don’t! But the thing is, that’s OK.

I know, when you graduated high school, you had all these grand plans that include landing a “fancy” job somewhere and getting married to your high school sweetheart. You may do these things not because you want to be married or because you know what you want to do in life, but because you’re lacking that sense of security you’re so desperately looking for. It’s a void you will search for years to fill. Most of your vision, though, doesn’t include the proper tools you’ll need to thrive. Like discovering self-worth or becoming emotionally and financially independent, or even learning how to care for another human being. You won’t know these things because you’ve not mastered caring for yourself just yet.

In a sense, you will fast forward through this time, because of trials and tribulations in your personal life, without ever pausing to think about who you are in these moments or what you will become once the storm settles. I am telling you these things because I don’t want you to miss out on some amazing opportunities for growth and evolution. There are some parts of you that will think you’re growing and evolving but the truth is, with the way things are going, you have actually arrested your development in so many ways. By not realizing a few crucial things, this is the exact opposite of what should be happening right now. So listen, and if you do nothing else, take my words to heart so that someday, you won’t look back on your life with regret and sadness.

Stop obsessing over your body

I mean it. Just stop. You are so beautiful. Every dimple and curve, every pound, every inch. You are missing some key moments, wasting time on the scale, or time in front of the mirror wishing to change things you cannot. You are just missing time, period. There is no amount of dieting, exercise, starving yourself, or anything else you might do to torture yourself, that will give you that fullness in your heart you’re craving. You have to decide now that what you see is good enough, that YOU are good enough, no matter what. Waste no more time on something so trivial, as life will throw a lot harder obstacles your way. Accept yourself early on. You’ll thank me for this later.

Enjoy this time before you become a mother

There is no real prep for becoming a mother. It’s kind of like being thrown into an erupting volcano and trying to find a way out. While you may come away with a few burns, you’ll quickly find ways to adapt so eventually, the lava won’t seem so hot. But all those years before you have any babies, invest in yourself. You can’t know what this time means , pre-children, to that whole growing and evolution thing. Do your very best to become a full person who knows herself before you have to devote everything to your children. And while I’ve grown exponentially since the births of my two babies, that time before feels like it just went too fast. I didn’t appreciate it. So, 20-something me, pay attention to your life before everything changes so dramatically because you won’t get another chance.

Take the time to figure your life out

You thought after graduating, you had to have it all mapped out by planning the marriage and such. Guess what? You don’t. You will try and fail more times than you realize but it’s cool. Do not let these things define you. In fact, don’t even let them define your next path. You will get back up and try again. Believe me. And one of these times, you will figure it out and succeed. Go easy on yourself through these years because this time is meant for you to figure it out. You’re not as grown as you think but one day, you’ll wake up and you will be.

Slow down and be present

How much of your time is spent on cell phones or daydreaming? Answer: too much. It’s true what they say – life is short. Try to be more in the moment, more present, so you can truly appreciate all the wonderful things happening around you right NOW. Because when you’re older, and all those exciting years are far behind you, you’ll wish you’d paid more attention in the moments, instead of weeping at the memories of them.

Be patient with love and forgiveness

Much like those teenage years, loving someone isn’t something you’ll feel secure in just yet nor will forgiving someone. It’s OK, it will happen. Don’t give up at the first sign of trouble. You have to learn how to fight for what’s right, not to run away when you’re scared and when you mess up or someone you love does, forgive. This will take practice and eventually, you will figure it out and those two things will feel as they should. But in the meantime, just know that when someone says they love you, they mean it. And when someone says they’re sorry, accept it and move on. Don’t overanalyze or you risk growing into your skin.

So, 20-something me, what I want to tell you is, stop worrying, stressing, and obsessing about all the things you can’t control and start focusing on all the positives you have in your life. Sometimes it may seem like life isn’t going the way you’d hoped, but it will get better. I promise. And on the days life doesn’t go your way, take comfort in writing. Whether it’s scribbling in a journal or constructing books from idea to final draft, I have a feeling it will eventually become your pillar of hope and possibly a path towards a better future. Oh, and coffee. Learn to like it as it will help you sail through just about anything with confidence and enthusiasm.

Trust.

(Image via Dreamworks)

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