I recently re-discovered a journal I kept after I graduated from college in 2000. I was unemployed, seemingly unemployable, broken-hearted, on the brink of adulthood but still so incredibly naïve (something I only recognize now, because I have distance, experience and context). I was twenty-one years old, feeling grown and wise… and like a failure. Reading my words in my handwriting was almost like becoming reacquainted with a stranger, a well-meaning, disillusioned stranger.
As I read through the pages of my life, I could hardly recognize myself and I could hardly remember the feelings that inspired the writing. I know it is cliché, but I could not help but think if only I knew then what I know now, perhaps I would have been more hopeful and less critical.
In order to document reminders for myself in the next ten years, I decided to jot down the things I wish I knew then and things I may need to know again in the next decade of my life.
20 things I wish I could have told my twentysomething self…
- You are so ignorant, you don’t even know what you don’t know (yet). Grown(ass)womanness is a process and is less about age and more about experience. And learning from experiences.
- The things that seem so important right now will not matter in five years. Hell, it may not matter in one. Don’t be overwhelmed by the disappointment of rejection or the confusion of disappointment. Everything truly happens for a reason.
- You are beautiful. Without make up and in the middle of the night and outside of being sexy. You are beautiful, not because a man says so (and even if/when he doesn’t). Tell yourself you are beautiful frequently and abundantly. And mean it!
- Be kind to yourself. You tend to be so hard on yourself.
- You are strong (your capacity of strength is so much wider than you think)…
- but being a strongblackwoman is not a necessity or responsibility in your life. Your frailties and vulnerabilities make you human, not weak.
- You are a storyteller and people will need your stories. Don’t stop writing them down.
- You have incredible discernment—use it. Do an inventory as often as possible and purge relationships that don’t add to your life, because they will inevitably subtract from it. Don’t hold on to dead or toxic relationships.
- Friendships only matter in quality, not quantity. You will be grateful for the few amazing people who are there when it counts. Don’t be friends with someone who is not your friend. It is not worth it.
- Love yourself more—more than anything else and anyone else. If you don’t, no one else will.
- Follow your dreams! They will take you places you have not even imagined.
- Don’t settle. Life is full of choices, don’t ever let anyone talk you out of having standards. You are not picky, or greedy, or unrealistic. You are worth it!
- Live passionately! Tomorrow is not promised and you should always regret what you did do, not what you didn’t do.
- Always go home for the holidays. Spend as much time with your family as possible. They know who you are and love you anyway.
- Your destiny will never walk away.
- Your faith will not always look like this.
- Never be tolerant of injustice.
- People lie. Don’t listen to or believe everything people say (to or about you).
- Take risks and do things that scare/intimidate/inspire you.
- Love deeply, intentionally, reverently. Even when it hurts!