As I write this article I think about what is it that I want to say in celebration of this occasion. I can’t help but think back to when I was younger and remember thinking that being anything older then 20 was old. I smile as I realize I have long passed 20 but still feel as though I am kid in so many ways. I feel young at heart but also naive and uncertain in many areas.
It seems like only yesterday when I was a teenager trying to figure out what I wanted to do with my life and I recall how many hours, days and weeks I spent worrying about the future. There is so much I wish I could go back and tell my younger self.
And so for my birthday I thought I would take a chance and write a birthday letter to my younger 20-year-old self. Something I wish I had read when I was still trying to find my way. I share this with you not only to have you see what is on my mind but perhaps reflect on what you wish you could tell your self if you could go back in time and connect with who you were 10,20 or even 30 years ago.
So here goes:
Today is your 20th birthday. Wow. You have so much to be proud of and so much to be grateful for. I know this year was tough, and that navigating the world of relationships have taken their toll. I also know that school and work is also keeping you busy and I know you are doing the best you can.
But for your birthday I wanted to tell you a few things that I’m sure you’ve heard before, but perhaps this time (since it is coming from me) you will listen. For easy reading I have compiled them into 10 major categories:
1) You are more then a number- I know that in the cut throat world of university and people sharing their grades, competition is fierce and it is difficult not to compare yourself and where you are to where you think you should be- this game will run most of your life and though I want you to work hard and do your best please don’t let a number on a piece of paper define who you think you are. This is true whether it be a number on a final exam or bank account.
2) You are smarter then you think- in the grand scheme of things most people I know are not doing anything that is related to their field of study or their degree so don’t take your major so seriously- if you want to pass great and get good grades awesome- but there are so many smart and interesting people I know who never finished post secondary schooling and also many people with degrees who are jerks. If you get your degree don’t be a jerk and if you don’t know that you can still have it all. Most importantly no matter how it turns out never stop learning. So much education happens outside of the school.
3) Laugh more and celebrate always- it is so easy to make life serious and significant. When you are older there will be more then enough time for this and most of the people in your future will convince you need to “buckle down” and “reap the rewards”- but don’t listen- work hard, play hard and enjoy life. There is lots of time to be serious. Also be sure to celebrate all of your own and other people victories. Most people are eagerly waiting for a high five in life and many of us restrain ourselves from fist-pumping, patting ourselves on the back or shouting out a big “hip, hip hooray”. I have never met a human being that didn’t smile if you gave them an enthusiastic high-five. Cheer other people on, enjoy and celebrate their triumphs and be sure to rejoice in your own wins as well.
4) You are responsible for you own life- No degree, relationship, grade, job or person can make you successful. No ‘thing’ out side of you can make you happy. You are 100% responsible for who you are, how you show up and what you make the situation, day or circumstance mean. You get to be the architect of your life, so be sure to build yourself a castle and decorate it with the things you love. No one can build it or create it for you. Your life is up to you.
5) The world owes you nothing- Sure you are crazy smart and beautiful inside and out. Yet always remember that you are given a short time on this planet and you get to say how it goes. You deserve everything, but you are entitled to nothing. If you want the throne you have to make sure you are the type of human that can responsibly earn and wear the crown.
6) You will need a tribe- I love how independent you are and how much you like doing things on your own. It is one of your best qualities and why you are so strong. But there is a time and a place for all attributes and the sooner you learn to let people in, allow them to contribute and let them love you, the sooner the riches of the planet open up. You are brave and strong but you do not have to do life on your own. In fact, life is far less interesting and beautiful being an island.
7) Trust your gut- that guy, or friend or situation that does not feel like a good match isn’t. I know you are so caught up in logic and your thoughts that it might be hard for you to hear this one, but 10 out of 10 times your gut and intuition is bang on. If that person does not seem friendly or the job doesn’t seem like a fit, trust your gut and move on. Whatever you think you will get or achieve, is not worth the stress and heartache later.
8) Be good to your friends and family- Words can cut like a knife and though I love your passion and self-expression, you can say and do things that can inflict pain on others. I know you don’t mean it and you always feel remorse and clean it up afterwards, however being someone who is able to share their upset while simultaneously holding love for another human being is the best workout on the planet. Be kinder then you think people deserve and if you must get angry be sure it is done with the least amount of damage control needed.
9) Fail often- failing is terrifying for you right now, however the truth is that failure is part of the journey, it is actually intentionally woven into the fabric of your life and is not going anywhere…ever. So much of your energy is spent trying to avoid when what we really need to do is speed it up and learn to fail faster and smarter. No matter what allow yourself to fail. Learning to fail with grace and enthusiasm is always encouraged.
10) Lastly, know that you are already amazing- so much of your time is spent trying to get somewhere in the future. I want you to see who you are right now and fall in love with the women in the mirror. The best gift you can give yourself today is to look at your reflection and keep saying, “I love you” until the woman looking back believes it. This is the single most important thing you can ever do for yourself and others in your lifetime.
So that’s my top ten transmissions I want to give you. This may all sound preachy to you right now, and my voice could possibly get lumped in with every other ‘older’ person you have spoken to lately, but I am hoping that something about this letter connects with you, as these are your words from your future self.
If there is only one thing I want you to take away from all of these points it is this:
I. Love. You.
Just the way you are in this exact moment.
You are already enough and you’ve already won. Nothing you do or don’t do can change that.
Happy Birthday Sacha, with every fiber of my being, I love every fiber of yours.
Your older Self
If you could go back in time what would you write yourself if you could? What is that you wish you knew when you were years younger?
Many of the points I written here are messages I could still learn from today, but by writing this out I’d like to think that it was not only a letter I wrote to my 20 year old self but that perhaps smuggled in between these lines are notes and messages from my 60 year old self to reach me on this day and remind me of what I would want myself to know.
Perhaps we all have a future, wiser Self out there on our horizon looking back on us today to tell us we are important, loved and appreciated. Perhaps this letter wasn’t for me at all and that was more importantly a way for your future self to get you to receive their transmission.
Maybe this letter is really for you, or perhaps you need to write your own to hear what there is for you to get.
Either way I heard it loud and clear and I hope you did too.