a letter to my younger self
Things will get better, I promise you that. Less complicated? Not so much.
Here's what will get better:
Your acceptance of others (and their sometimes crazy ways)
Your love and appreciation towards your family and friends
Your willingness to (continue) learning
Your ability to take greater risks, without the promise that it will pay off.
Your flexibility when it comes to you're willingness to bend
True, ever-lasting love
Here's what will get more complicated:
Your love life....for the better, but still complex
Relationships (yes, they get easier but some get harder)
Parenthood (if you're fortunate enough to experience it)
Your stuck-in-your-way-mentality (sorry, it gets worse as you get older)
Your memory (ok, that just gets worse)
There are so many more things I could list, but you get the gist. For some, things get easier. For others, complicated and hard are their middle names.
I know you have pretty aggressive goals and dreams for yourself. You want to "live in NYC, become a surgeon, live in a brownstone walk up on the Upper West Side and date occasionally". You never did have a problem with being descriptive! But what I love about your sheer determination is that you have a vision and you aren't going to let anything or anyone get in your way. You have a plan and dammit, you're going to make it happen.
Nice willpower sister, you must have learned that from your parents.
I hate to rain on your parade, but life has other plans in store for you. And what is even more shitty, is that you're going to go through some hardships and life will kick you in the butt, down the street, around the corner and back, testing every ounce of your willpower. But you will land on your feet better than you ever expected, I promise you that.
First things first: you don't know s**t. Sure you're a teenager with a drivers licence (and you think you're da bomb when it comes to your mad driving skills, but really, you don't know jack) . The world is your oyster. You have a lip on you that's as sharp as a knife and you feel invincible. You will fail math twice, but you will ace your English and and Biology exams, getting you one step closer to that university you've always wanted to get into. And that cute boy you like, he finally noticed you. Life is good. Besides, who needs to be good at math if you want to be a doctor?... (said no one ever).
For now, things look pretty darn good.
Then the hardships will start to happen. You get older and you realize you aren't invincible, it becomes harder to keep your grades up and the pressure becomes insurmountable. You are laser focused on medical school and the prerequisites you need to get there. In fact, university is the only option you have because it's expected of you. Heck, your parents are paying for your university education. You DON'T say no to that! Heaven forbid you take a gap year.
You make it to university, but then things start to really take a nose dive. You realize it's not what you thought it would be (well, some things) and the pressure is adding up. All of a sudden that freedom you so desperately wanted was harder than you thought. Being independent has its perks, but discipline and guidance from your parents is priceless and sometimes still needed for some 18 year olds (ahem, even you Miss Independent). You always feel like you need to prove something to satisfy your parents or yourself. Whatever it is, it can make even the strongest foundations crack.
All of a sudden those medical school dreams do not become a reality and you think you're an absolute failure but you need to do something with your life. Earn money, get a car, buy an apartment. You know, do the respectable thing that adults do.
Right, your an A-D-U-L-T now. So start adulting, ok? The bank of mom and dad isn't going to stay open forever.
So you find a job (thanks to dad) working in the mail room, taking on reception work, being a secretary and doing dictation. How the hell did you end up there!? I know that working your way up the proverbial corporate ladder was not what you saw yourself doing. You had this vision of running up and down hospital hallways, saving one patient at a time, in and out of surgery, but believe me when I say this, it made you who you are today (and lets be honest, you ended up with mad typing skills!). Your determination and relentlessness towards medical school has officially shifted. And that's ok. You just need to trust the process.
Your personal life is not bad either. Living with a cocky French man who you met at kickboxing (what?!), who knew? But life is an experience and although this relationship won't last, it will teach you a lot and the greatest thing that will come out of it, is that you will have the guts to truly be on your own and support yourself. It will teach you to never solely depend on a man for emotional or financial support, because you can do all of that yourself. I promise you that.
I'm not surprised you found your in marketing. It all makes sense now, 20 years later. You were outgoing, creative, had a good eye when it came to design and you were a lot more like dad than you thought you were. Kudos to you for finding your niche. But wait. Put on the breaks. Your a financial disaster?!
Riiigghhhttt....ok so you weren't a total spoiled brat but you also didn't have to save money for collage and you weren't forced to save money. It was merely a suggestion and well, I know you like to live in the moment, so why not spend that babysitting money right now? Don't worry, even at 40 years of age you still like to spend frivolously...just not as bad.
It's 2006, you're 29 years old and you are a financial disaster. Nice one. What happened? Well, if anyone could predict what would happen next in your life, it would not be this:
You start to follow Oprah's Debt Diet Series to see if you can get your finances back on track.
You start a money group with 4 ladies hoping you can fix your finances, and support and motivate each other.
You end up on Oprah sharing your success story of how you all accomplished such huge financial milestones in less than a year.
You get offered a book deal.
You get offered to host your own TV show.
You get speaking gigs across the country to help educate youth on financial life skills
You build a multi-media business from scratch called The Smart Cookies.
This may seem like a dream, but yes this did happen. And this my dear, will be one of the best rides of your life. You may not know it now, as your single-ass self sits on your apartment floor, crying, with creditors calling and asking you to pay your credit card, with absolutely no money in a savings account and on the brink of losing your home. But I guarantee it, out of this nightmare of a financial situation, this did happen to you and the results from it are impressive. Refer to the photo below. The proof is in the pudding, darling.
Everything after Oprah seems lacklustre, but you will continue to thrive, grow into your profession as a marketer taking on various roles that help you progress in your career moving from a receptionist to an executive. You will become a well-respected business lady, all while your family sits back in awe. You made it. And don't you ever regret a thing because those experiences got you to where you are, and will continue to do so. That's the great thing about getting older. Wisdom sets in, past experiences (good and bad) all contribute to the person you've matured into. It's miraculous really.
So here you are, it's 2017 and you just turned 40 years old. You find yourself in a place where you least expect it, but its exactly where you need to be.
A new mom, a soon-to-be-wife living in a new city that is so far from New York City, you'd laugh if I told you. But you found true, ever-lasting love with a man who thinks the world of you and is the greatest father you could wish for your son. You gave birth to a healthy baby boy after 2 miscarriages, you continue to take on new career challenges, but you continue to persevere through life's challenges, because they do still pop up.
And if there is one piece of advice I can give you...my younger self...is to never stop learning. Don't ever think that you've learned everything, because that is the farthest from the truth. Stay curious and always be open to change.