Once upon a time, I told myself I wouldn’t grow up to be bitter, angry, jaded, and cynical.
Ten years later (more or less), and I end up contradicting my then self.
My twenty-something self will turn twenty-something again in nine days. I’ve been finding myself reflecting on adult stuff (taxes, property, investments, a career, a family, marriage, all that jazz) during the commute home—mostly terrified that I am not even halfway towards the financial stability my parents have provided for us during my last twenty-something years. I watch teen shows for the trash, but follow the post-college ‘kids’ religiously to sympathize with their no go career, bills (and more bills) to pay, and relationship woes. And when I watch the former, I always say “ah you’re young. You’ll find someone else!” or “Eh, not like she’s supporting herself.”
Yes, 14-year-old me did not predict her 24-year-old future self to be terrified and absolutely confused as to where the rest of her life is headed.
Dear 14-year-old self,
I’m sorry I’ve become jaded about my future. I’m sorry that I lament more about how life is unfair rather than making things happen for me and the rest of this nation. I’m also sorry to say that your boobs will still be small at this age.
Having said that, life isn’t all that bad. You will end up having moments of cynicism and drinking to forget about the stresses of the job. But you won’t be doing that alone. You’ll still be with the friends you have now, and you’ll meet so many more that will listen as you whine, laugh with you as you make a joke out of it, or simply dance with you as you both forget—even momentarily—how you didn’t quite grow up to become what you envisioned.
Okay, my last sentence isn’t helping either. But your older self will need these cynicisms. You’ll need the reality check, because otherwise, your idealistic, gung-ho, reach for the stars self, won’t be ready to face the failure, rejection, frustration, or general blah-ness that comes with reaching your dreams. You will need these bad feelings, events, and yes, people, to remind you that there are hurdles and challenges to overcome. The realization of dreams aren’t handed to you—I’m sure you know this much. You know you have to work hard for it, no matter how long it takes. And you can’t feel entitled after a year or two of working your ass off for those dreams. No, don’t! Because once your mood gets the best of you, people will close the doors because of your attitude. No, you need to realize that there’s more to be done. That you have so much more potential to fulfill and you haven’t quite acquired everything you need. Life is forever a learning process, and whatever your age, there will always be something new to know.
And that’s when your optimism and idealism steps in. It steps in to balance your reality checks, so that it doesn’t discourage you from your goals.
So yeah, the only thing you really don’t have to look forward to? A flat chest. But…spoiler alert! Someone will love you, and want to keep them (and the rest of you) that way.
Your twenty something self