Dear 21-Year Old Me,
Congratulations! You’ve made it so far, overcame a lot. You’ve struggled more than some, less than others. It’s important to acknowledge your milestones and enjoy this moment right now. It’s easy to get caught up with anxiety about the future. What job am I going to get? How am I going to repay my student loans? What now?
It seems like you have the whole world ahead of you and you do. It can be liberating and daunting at the same time. But don’t let that fear drive you. Now is your time to explore who you are, what you actually like to do, what you don’t, what motivates you and what doesn’t.
Now I’m 31 and looking back, I wish I would’ve been told not to worry so much. I know it may feel like you have a million problems and you’re not sure how you’re going to survive. But guess what, you will. Not only will you survive but you will thrive because of the challenges you face. The only question is whether you’re going to enjoy the process or if you’re going to struggle your way through. The earlier you can learn to enjoy the highs and lows equally the more fun it all becomes.
Guess what? I’m still learning to enjoy the process today too. I think about the things I used to worry about 10 years ago even 5 years ago and think how petty I used to be. I remember freaking out over a few points I got docked from a college test. You know how it is…
Oh my goodness, I need all A’s. I need to be the best. I need to complete every extra credit assignment.
So much internal pressure! Guess what? Those few percentage points on one test will not matter so much 10 years down the road. I promise you. Don’t get me wrong. You still need to work hard and smart but I hope you learn to enjoy the moment you’re in right now. I hope you celebrate how much you already accomplished and that life itself is not just about accomplishments but about feeling fulfillment in them too.
Another thing I wish I would’ve known when I was your age was to not compare yourself to others so much.
I sit here writing to my dear 21-year cold self now hoping I’ll say the same thing 10 years from now. At least, I hope my future 41-year old self can look back at the 31-year old me and think how petty I was back then.
I think the biggest thing I’ve learned over the past decade is to learn to care less of what others think.