Dear Twenty-Year-Old Me:
Slow Down and Let Go
I know, I know, our favorite quip is “I have zero regrets,” but trust me that will not always be true. Not in the way you think. You have just finished your sophomore year at LSU. College was a really rough start, I know. All that apathy towards academics, well it is immature and cowardly, but it is all you have known for years. Somewhere along the way you gave up on yourself, and I am here to tell you that all that hard work you gave at the back end did pay off. But, and not to quote mom or anything, wouldn’t it have been soooo much easier if you had just given a fraction of that enthusiasm earlier?? Push yourself, you can do it, even if you don’t know it yet.
Which brings me to George. Yes, the one your mom gives all the credit to for turning you into a somewhat studious person. You met him about a year ago and developed a monumental crush but never believed anything would come of the harmless flirtation. Weren’t you surprised to find out the feelings were mutual?? Now that you know that, you need to really trust that. Let go, loosen the reigns. Allow him to spend time with his friends without any guilt and foster the relationships with your girlfriends that are still, to this day, near and dear to your heart. Yes, those great friends you had in high school…you are so blessed to still have them as your best friends 15 years later. But still, you really need to enjoy this time in your life where you don’t have to worry as much about your significant other. There will be plenty of time for you to do his laundry, cook his meals, iron his clothes. Not that you are doing that now, but trust me when I say you will have the rest of your life to take care of each other; take time to take care of you now. There will actually be a time when you will relish evenings alone.
On a Deeper Note
I want you to try to find greater peace with the relationship you have with your dad. I know you feel abandoned by him, and you have felt that way for sometime. From where I sit, I can tell you that raising kids is hard work; throw divorce, step-parents, step and half siblings and different parenting styles into the mix, well that surely complicates things. If you cannot find peace now, trust me when I say this relationship will improve beyond what you can imagine. Now, you believe that you will never be close again with your dad. You feel like a part of you has died and because of those feelings, you hold on too tightly to George. Know this: your dad loves you. He always has, always will. It is a complicated situation that you will better understand when you are older. I don’t want to diminish your feelings, because they are real and justified in the sense that they were your experience. But with maturity, you will gain perspective. You will be shocked that you will not only reconcile, but you will open your heart again and feel loved by the one you believed was lost to you forever. You can stop trying to protect yourself by putting up walls and being so guarded. Let people in.
Be Kind to Your Mother
Seriously, you have no idea what she went through for you to merely arrive. You were, after all, her “Lamaze baby.” She deserves your undying love for that alone. Add to that her years of support, encouragement, and sacrifice. Well you owe her, and you owe her big. When they place your first baby into your arms, you will know. When you are waking in the middle of the night because only you can provide the breastmilk, you will love her deeper for the two years she breastfed you. When your 2.5 year old has mood swings that makes your teenage ones look tame, you will want to pick up the phone and call her just to say “I’m sorry.” The two of you are more similar than you will admit at this point. But trust me, apples don’t fall far from trees. Give her a break, stop being so hard on her and accept her language of love. She carried you in her womb, held you during your first moments on earth, and continues to hold you to this day. She is your rock and the place you can go when you need to be weak. She is your mother, and though you cannot grasp what that title entails, believe me when I say that the love that flows between mother child is like no other love on this earth. Reciprocate.
Plan for the Future but be open to change
I know you think you don’t want kids until you are 40. You have a taste of academic success and want a career first and foremost. Of course you want children, you always have. But their placement in your priority list has fallen. You have a tendency to decide on a path and be unwilling to deviate. Some call it controlling. We call it goal-oriented. Ok, maybe it’s a tad of the former. Regardless, your priorities will greatly change. I am proud of you for applying to, getting accepted, and completing law school. It was not easy. Currently, I vacillate between regretting the decision to go to law school entirely, to being thankful I have a career I can fall back on. This will be shocking to you, but you have to decided to put your career on the backburner, second to George’s career and raising your children. You will do this with only the slightest reservations. This career that you thought would define you failed to do so after you became a mom. And that is okay. Keep up with your studies because although your career will take a backseat, you will not retire from it. You need something that is yours, independent of anyone else. But you will also know that these precious children need you as well. They need your love and guidance. Make no mistake, this job will be harder in ways than working as an attorney. The ramifications of the job will feel far greater and the risks scarier. The rewards will be numerous but often unexpected and even more often, not visible until years later. You will doubt your abilities and question your decisions on a daily basis. You are not alone. You will develop a wonderful support group of women who are in the trenches with you. So keep working because you will continue to work outside of the home, but you will feel that your greatest “work” is done within the four walls of your home.
In conclusion, remember to enjoy yourself. As trite as the saying goes, it will serve you greatly to not sweat the small stuff. Although the days seem long, the years are short. And such will become clearer the older you get. You will never experience life like this again. So much freedom mixed with so little responsibility. Savor it.