I wrote this on Xanga on March 29, 2013. I found it again, like I’ve always thought I would, because I remember this poignant and eloquent letter so vividly; I remember reading it through tears, covered in a blanket of exhaustion on the living room couch of our house.
Dear 25 year-old me,
Please tell me you got that dream internship at NBC and now you’re working for the big dogs in New York City. Please tell me you live in a cool apartment in the Lower East Side, you own that PS1 bag you were constantly pining for, you have that leather jacket that you saw at the mall last month, and you go shopping with your friends regularly for new heels at Barneys. You know, I became a 25 year old Blair Waldorf with less drama and more smarts? Kind of like that girl in 13 going on 30: you have the glamorous life, which is what you always wanted since you were little. Oh, which reminds me, did you end up getting into that program at Columbia? Nice. How about a boyfriend? Nice. I hope your skin cleared up too, you lost tons of weight, you fit in a size 2 now, and you look amazing in bodycon dresses. You lost the tummy fat, your hair is less stringy, and you actually go to the gym on a regular basis. I’m not even going to ask if you cook, because knowing you, the answer is no. Besides, you probably go out for dinner every night. Life’s good.
But beyond the tangible aspects of your life, what’s going on in your head? Is it any better? Do you feel good enough now? Have you made it? Are you happy? Are you proud of yourself? Are you finally okay with yourself after 25 years? Do you still reminisce about lost potential? Do you still compare yourself to others? Do you regret anything? Do you wish you had stayed/left? Do you think you’re selfish because you chased after what you wanted? Off topic, but how did you ever pay to go to school in New York City? I hope you maintained integrity the whole way through; I pray for the both of us.
To be honest, I don’t really care what happened to you. Well I DO… but I don’t know where you ended up. You could be lying in a ditch right now near Cincinatti, living at home, or travelling the world. All I know is that you exist somewhere down the timeline, and YOU know what happened to me. All I want is for you to tell me that I will be okay.
Did it end in heartbreak? Did I say goodbye or did he? Or did we just grow apart without a goodbye, like it tends to end for me? Did all of it lead to nothing? Did something happen? Did something BAD happen? Did it end just as badly as I thought it would? Did we lose touch? Did he ever tell me the truth? Did I ever tell him how I felt? Did I ever yell at him and tell him how I didn’t trust him and that he played me and I knew it and I kept letting him roll the dice? I feel like it was never meant to be and I think I have willed myself into feeling vulnerable, just to live a little, and I’ve lost sight of the bigger picture. I want to have my heartbroken, just to feel that. Was it real? You know, how I felt about him. Was it just lust or foolishness? I hope it didn’t come to define me… it’s spreading through me and I’m fighting back, but I have no idea how this will end. How’d you do it in the end? How the fuck did you do it? How did you move on? Remember D? Remember C? Those were childhood friendships that ended so badly and it took you forever to be okay with it. Sometimes, you still haven’t gotten over how badly things ended with C, so I can only pray extra hard that J won’t fucking destroy your life, your mind, your sense of self-worth.
In all honesty, I want to cry a little if there’s a good reason for it. I want a good story that you can tell when you’re 23 and walking in a park alone with that guy from work. I want you to feel that you can trust someone, you can open up, to be vulnerable, to let yourself lose sometimes. I pray that you are stronger than I am right now; I pray that you can handle disappointment, you can have some guy string you along until he leaves you on the ground, and you slowly but surely help yourself up and dust yourself off. I pray that no one will ever get in the way of your dreams and desires. I pray that you will be wise in what constitutes selfishness and personal drive. I hope you are prepared for the real world in the way that I am not. I hope you still write. Otherwise, you’re probably insane. I hope you still sing and draw and play piano and maybe even dance. And even now that you’re in NYC, I hope you still make some time to go biking.
Are you still close friends from people in college? Besides, what happened to some of them? Are they better than you now? Are they happier than you? Are you okay with that?
I hope you still read too. I hope you love to read. I hope you still love those trashy teen novels once in a while… because… well… you know us. Fuck what everybody else has to say, we still love ’em. I hope bad grades never stopped you from pursuing literature, that whatever a certain professor might say/do that enervates you, you can breathe and move on and get on with your life. I’m rooting for you kiddo. I’m rooting for you to learn from all the mistakes I’m making right now and that you’ll make better mistakes in your life now.
It’s weird to give advice to someone older than you, because you’re less wise, but I’m going to do it anyway.
Please know that you’ll always be good enough. Nobody’s perfect, regardless of how you might will yourself to believe that. Please know that everything will end up all right, even if you cry at night, thinking about the same things over and over again. Please know7 that no one knows you as well as you do; take people’s advice with a grain of salt and trust your superb intuition. Please know that the people in your life do not define you, even though you used to say this proudly, but rather, you define yourself.
Please know that I won’t be too disappointed if you didn’t end up going to New York City (yet) to head Time Warner, but that day will come.
Please know that I love you, that I trust you with your decisions, and that all I want is for you to be happy.
With all my love,
20 year old me.