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Dear Twenty Something Me

September 15, 2011

365 Journal Challenge:
“Write a letter to yourself at another time in your life (past or future).
Bonus: Send it to someone who is currently that age…”

illustration by Dana Aubrey

By Twenty-something Me, Circa '90, Oil Pastel

There is a young person in my family who reminds me of myself at the same age. It is so hard to resist lecturing them about some of the decisions they are making. I want to, start to, but then stop myself because I realize in some way I am only lecturing myself. Then I wondered if I could, what would I say to my twenty-something self?

Dear Twenty Something Me,

As you stand on the dividing line between the institutions of your youth and your adulthood, you’re motivated to get as far away from what you thought you were told to think. School, family, government, and country did the best job they could with the resources available to prepare you for your independence. When you hear the rest is up to you, it’s true.

You’re a shooting star traveling across a dark sky without knowing where you’ll end up. Being directionally challenged is not bad. It takes you down roads less traveled culminating into wonderfully serendipitous encounters. The best adventures can be the ones without an agenda or specific destination attached. But you already know this. When you hear that everything is possible and nothing is guaranteed, it’s true.

Travel happens everywhere, everyday, and in every possible way through your experiences of love, hate, happiness, depression, success, and failure. It happens when you step away from the familiar. It doesn’t happen when you use it as an excuse to run away. Running away is easy. Easy bankrupts your growth. Sometimes we all need to haul a pack on our back and travel to the other end of the earth only to find out that our shadow never left our side. What’s important is that when you arrive at that realization you stop running from it. Be mindful of what motivates you.

Shadows are cast from the adversity of your most painful experiences. I need to tell you that your shadow is useful; it gives you a bearing and direction by providing perspective, empathy and understanding. The hurt and disappointment buried deep within your heart is a belligerent mass that will eventually eradicate your power if left unchecked. Take care of your pain. The most difficult moments in your journey will become your fondest memory because the knowledge gained was the hardest earned.

Purpose is the antithesis of apathy and turns aimless wandering into the fortification of your dreams – the fountain of your youth. Try not to exercise your freedoms all at once because it goes by fast and soon you’ll be faced with the longest wait of your life before it comes back to you again. The trick is to not get addicted or defined by any state of being because nothing stays the same, everything changes, and definitions box you in.

Never forget your family loves you unconditionally. After that, true love and support must come from within and when it does the coordinates on your blurry map begin to focus, and then the journey continues.



2 Comments leave one →
  1. September 28, 2011 10:47 am

    So full of soul! I hope a lot of twenty somethings read this and embrace this note. Great illustration to this!

  2. September 29, 2011 10:16 am

    Cheers! It’s was an interesting challenge to figure out how to talk ‘to’ and not ‘at’ my younger self, or even to think of my younger self in the third person for that matter.

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