I was recently combing through my multitude of photos on my computer and I came across this one.
20 something. Polka-dot dress. Adjacent to the Eiffel Tower after a summer abroad. Terrible posture. Cute pink purse from the Côte d'Azur. Uptight. Smarter than I have ever been or ever will be again. Oblivious to the fact that my dad was taking this picture. Ten years ago.
Even though that moment seems like a blink ago, it actually was ten years, one marriage, one child, four apartments, three states, seven jobs and about 387 quesadillas ago.
I am older but not that much wiser. I do think about what my current self would say to my former self. So here goes:
Relax. Worry less about what you know and how you look and where you're going. Enjoy the ride. The moments you're living now are going to be memories soon, so be fearless, be bold.
As you sit in the café during this summer in France, practice your French without concern that it is not perfect. Do not worry about switching "le" or "la" or mispronouncing quelque chose. Soak up the museums and the people watching and the crêpes. This time is your time. Soon there will be a husband and babies and rent checks and car payments and big responsibilities. Now, know yourself and appreciate yourself and enjoy.
Even though you feel like your problems and concerns are crippling at the moment (and yes, everything is relative), in ten years you won't even remember them. Relax.
As you decide whether to take the long road to medical school or the more beautiful one to graduate art history studies, remember that whatever you choose, that is the correct choice.
Life twists in ways which we cannot predict and that is precisely what makes our journey so wonderful. I know now that I am doing exactly what I should be. Yes, you will always wonder, "what if?" But life is made of choices, tiny and vast, that add up to who you are and who you are becoming.
My world now is not what I imagined. I don't live in New York or Chicago. I don't have a Carrie Bradshaw apartment or wear Diane von Furstenberg wrap dresses under my white lab coat. I don't spend my summers traveling in Portugal or my Saturday mornings in yoga class.
My world now is actually better than that. I have a man who loves my quirks and gets my weird sense of humor and adores my cooking. We share a daughter who just called me "mom-mom" and really really meant it. We spend our weekends playing on the floor and making silly animal noises and reading "Happy Birthday, Little Pookie" for the hundredth time. I work in a not very glamorous classroom, but share my passion and expose students to a world they didn't know existed. We travel when we can. We are happy.
So, as you prepare to finish up college, slow down. Life isn't what will happen, it is what happens now. Relax. Breathe. Savor. Enjoy your friends. Party with reckless abandon (well, okay, let's not kid ourselves, you don't do much with reckless abandon ever). Listen carefully to lectures. Take time and patience to write those essays. Hike the Tennessee hills. Store it all away in your memory bank so that you'll have it forever with you.
Older, Happier, Softer You