Last weekend, I was at a Territorial conference for young adults with my department. Among some seriously busy days of setting up and running around, I had the opportunity to work with a woman from another department in the creation of a “Words of Wisdom” video to play at the closing meeting. Basically, the idea was that we would invite most of the special guests to come over and talk to us, and answer our question: “If you could speak to your 20-year-old self today, what would you tell him/her? What advice would you give.”
I was so surprised and excited by the very wide range of answers we got. We had guests of all ages, from 25 to late 50’s, and the life experience and true passions were apparent in every answer. I was so excited when the video came together and we were able to share it with everyone.
I was able to share a little on the video, but I haven’t been able to stop thinking about what I would share with my 20-year-old self.
I remember turning 20 and the jokes of “beating teen pregnancy” that were so prevalent. It wasn’t hard when my boyfriend and I weren’t having sex. I was a senior in college, had a small but wonderful group of college friends, and was the Resident Advisor to the 4th floor of Main, an all-girls, non-alcohol floor.
I had acne, I was about 20 pounds skinnier and thought I was fat, I had braces and a nose-ring. My best friend in the entire world was Stephany. I had been dating Andrew for just over a year.
At 20 I graduated from college, moved into my first apartment in Syracuse, had my first real job.
And honestly, at different points of that year, I would tell myself different things. In a matter of just a year, my life changed dramatically. And now, 5 years later, having just celebrated my 25th birthday, my life would be unrecognizable to 20-year-old me.
I know what she would ask: how the HECK did you get THERE? How did you get the job you have, how do you have a monthly writing column when absolutely no one thinks you have any talent. How did you decide to make the move? When did you finally know that Andrew was the one you wanted to marry?
My advice to that 20-year-old girl? Trust.
Trust that everything is going to be fine. Trust that God is going to teach you through every move, every mistake. Trust that you are making the right decisions and go with your gut. Quit your job with more gusto (yes, you are going to quit that terrible job, even though it has an excellent title that will look good on your resume). Trust that God will show you the moment that you know Andrew is the one (but I mean, common, you’ve liked him forever, just go with it).
You worry about everything. You worry about your car, you worry about money. You worry about everything, and you need to just step back and enjoy. Life is too short for the worrying and the negativity. You are too particular about things. Go with the flow! Make an unexpected pit stop and smell the metaphorical daffodils. Stop holding onto things so tightly and just let go. It’s not worth the headaches and the stress.
Start writing, because at 25 you’ll wish that you had devoted the time to the craft you love. I mean, you have a Creative Writing degree for goodness sakes. Use it! (And that is advice to my 25-year-old self as well). Stop listening to the negativity and the “you can’t do it.” You can do it–but it requires work and time. Time you have plenty of, work ethic you need to develop. Hone that work ethic now, because it will come in handy in 5 years.
Live in this moment.
This moment is beautiful. You are single and you don’t have to account to anyone. Spend time cooking. Spend time by yourself. Spend time with friends. Don’t let relationships go to the wayside. But don’t think that you need tons of friends to be happy. You know who your true friends are. And you know you have a loving, supportive family. Hold onto them, cultivate your relationships with them. They will mean so much more to you as you grow older and learn the true meaning.
And my last piece of advice: you are 20; don’t you dare think that God has made you better than anyone else in this world. Love them. Love those who you instinctively turn your nose up to. Because just because they think differently or act differently doesn’t make them any less of a child of God. Love them with all that you are and remember that you shine the light of Jesus in all that you do.
If I was actually sitting across from myself, I’ll bet there would be more I would say, but I know these are the highlights. I can’t imagine what it will be like in 5 more years, at 30-years-old, how my life will have changed and what I’ll look back and say to me now.
Sending love to all our 20-year-old selves.