Dear 23-Year-Old Self,
I know you’re ready to take on the world. You’ve done all the right things for so many years. You’ve given this life your all – the lost sleep studying for exams, the leadership roles you took on for clubs you believed in, the friendships you made in college with kids from around the globe. You always made sure to raise your hand in class at all the right times. Dang Girl, you sure have worked hard!
Now’s that moment when all of it comes to play. You’re stepping out into the great unknown, into the so-called real world, and man would you do anything to become that woman you wished you’d always be. The woman who has it all. She’s independent and she’s a go-getter. She doesn’t let anyone get in the way of her dreams.
You’re living in a new city, “the big city” as folks from home like to call it, and you’re going to feel out of place. It’s one thing to travel to new places. You can handle that – you love that. But, starting somewhere new is going to shake your world a bit, but don’t you worry. One day you’ll look back and call it the most brilliant idea.
Those growing pains are going to hurt. You’re going to worry that you’ll lose where you came from by starting somewhere new, but just know that home will always be a part of you. You don’t have to try. You’ll always know your roots are on the farm you grew up on (the Ponderosa as we like to call it) in Hartsville, Indiana. What a lovely place.
You’re going to get knocked down at work. And not the “slow your roll” kind of getting knocked down that they think us Millennials all have to learn. But, people won’t always treat you right and this will make you feel alone, wondering what you did to deserve disrespect. But trust me it’s not you. You have a heart of gold. Don’t let the way some people treat you define you.
But, rest assured, that there will always be good people who have your back. You might not have faith in the entire system, but keep faith in something greater. Understand that no matter where you're at, good people will be there to help you when you need it. And trust me, they’ve been through it themselves.
Don’t worry about what others say about you. Most of it’s in your head and the rest of it doesn’t matter, because as long as you’re being a good person, their little comments don’t amount to much. Keep moving past small minds and understand that just because someone’s older doesn’t make them wiser.
Take others’ advice with a grain of salt. Most of it comes from a good place, but those people have a totally different life than you and can’t really understand what you’re going through. And that’s okay.
It’ll take a minute, but you’ll make new friends with some of the most fantastic ladies in the city. You’ll have way too much fun livin it up and making all the boys cry. Keep making them cry too, because you’ll run into a few that aren’t worth your time. You might fall in love, but never settle for less than you deserve. Your gut will tell you what that is.
Stay as close to your dreams as you can. Never ever EVER let them die, because they are what keep you alive. Don’t apologize for being ambitious. The world needs more people like you. You might feel like a secretary now, but keep moving. Do the small jobs with a smile and never think you’re too good. This will build you.
Demand respect from EVERYONE. And I mean everyone. Just because someone may know more than you at work doesn't mean that they can walk all over you. You've got to know when to tell them no even when it's hard. As good as you are to other people, be that good to yourself.
Stop waiting on someone to tell you what to do next. If it’s in your heart, go do it. Go build it. It’ll never be as good as you want it, but you’ve got to try. You'll never know exactly what you're doing, but no one really does. When we thought the adults had all the answers, we were wrong. If you’re worried that you might get fired or look stupid for going for your dream, ask yourself, “How does it feel to always play it safe?” Die trying rather than submit to giving up.
All of those pieces are going to start to come together to make you feel alive again. Getting down on your knees to pray will pay off. Your pain is going to build the way for your dreams. And all you’ll do is look back saying thank you for all that I went through, because it made me into exactly who I was meant to be…and that’s one heck of a woman.
Your Older, Wiser Self