dear me in my 20's...

...No one told you it would be like this. No one prepared you for the "fall."  I know it feels like someone should have pulled you aside at some point during college, or even graduation and said...

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"Look kid, it's gonna suck for a while out there. You'll do everything wrong. Get a bunch of parking tickets, go into debt, work minimum wage jobs-- because that's all you'll be qualified for--  these jobs will barely pay your bills (which by the way, said bills will be Chinese to you because no one ever showed you one before -- who needs to learn about bills? Ignorance is bliss, right?) You'll get your car repossessed, almost get arrested at least once and be homeless and couch-surf for 6 months. You'll hate your completely out-of-control life and cling to your co-dependent relationship for survival, which is ironic in that it will nearly destroy you when you inevitably break up.  You'll experience sexual trauma, struggle with an eating disorder and even think about killing yourself. Then you'll develop adult-onset acne in reaction to your severe stress and self-loathing. But not to worry. You'll survive. Have a blast!" 

But no one told you that. Perhaps they forgot what it was like. Perhaps they blocked it out. Most-likely they blocked it out. Those at your college graduation said "way to go kid!" as they handed you envelopes of graduation money-- money that was gone as fast as it came, as you promptly spent it on frivolous adventures, since no one taught you about investing (not that you would have listened.) They watched with a mix of nostalgia and terror as you hooked up a u-haul to your boyfriend's plymouth and rode off into the LA sunset to make all of your dreams come true! (Even though you really wanted to go to New York.  But hey--HE was going to LA...so...yeeahhh.)

Well. We both know how the story goes from there.

Yes, your 20s are a decade of fuck-ups and finding yourself...hopefully without dying or being evicted first. But maybe that's the magic of it. We suddenly have so much freedom. ALL the choices.  We can choose any path...and only in this place of ultimate freedom can we truly discover what's for us... by discovering... no. By experiencing what's NOT. 

You are so hard on yourself.  You somehow think you should know more than you can possibly know-- lessons I can tell you now have taken years to learn. You assume 20s means "adult" when it really means "adult-child." A hybrid version of the two: The inexperience and naivete of the child, in the body and circumstances of an adult. This is clearly a recipe for disaster.  And what a beautiful disaster you are.  

But I see you. You are always trying to be better. You give so much. You are kind, compassionate, trusting. You love fiercely-- though you forget to include yourself amongst those you love.  And perhaps that is your only real mistake.  All the others are part of the game-- lessons on the road of life-- nothing that can't be fixed with a debt-consolidator, some duct tape and the passage of time.  

A little kindness to yourself.

A little patience with yourself in the messiness.

A little compassion in the newness of it all. 

A little laughter at how NOT serious it all actually is.

And self love.

These are your only missing ingredients.

But who cares. Because we survived, kid. We turned out okay. And we are still "turning out." It never ends, this learning-by-experience of "adulting" that you started. Thank you for having the courage to make all the mistakes that make us the woman we are today. We are only happy today because you were willing to experience being profoundly unhappy.  We only found the life we dreamed of because you were willing to suffer the loss of the dream of the "perfect" life.  We are only happy and healthy in love today, because of your courage to love all of those broken-winged birds who couldn't love you back. 

So thank you. 

You are doing everything right.  

Maybe they were right at graduation after all.

 Way to go kid!

Love,

Older & (a little) wiser me