Dear “Twenty Year Old” Rachel,
Good morning, pretty lady!!
It’s me. Me ten years later. I know, the Ghost of Christmas Future, except your birthday is in May, not December.
Anyway, how are you? Let me guess. You’re probably hiding in your dorm room even though it’s a sunny May afternoon, one of those spectacular spring days with balmy breezes flowing through the campus.
What else, what else … You’re studying for a sociology final, or writing an analytical paper on John Milton’s Paradise Lost, and wondering if your horrible grades will ever crack a 3.0. You made so many mistakes your freshman year at Rutgers. I still don’t know how you managed to avoid dropping out. Maybe you have more spunk than I give you credit for.
Haha, you always hated that your birthday was in May, because you either had finals or essays looming on the horizon. Even if you were a lazy bum about school and bragged about your crappy work ethic, as if lackluster grades made you an “All American Rebel,” you still cared enough to try.
Believe or not, I’m back at college all these years later. Not as a student, though, but as a Real Adult with a Real Job. An adult who has the disposal cash to eat at downtown restaurants, to take the NYC train, to rent a luxury apartment, and to travel.
Yes, I said travel. Can you believe it? I know you’re miserable that you can’t study abroad, because you’re on academic probation, but it’s all gonna be okay, because you have amazing wanderlusty experiences coming your way soon.
But let’s talk about the bad news first.
Your twenties aren’t going to be easy, sorry.
Your heart will be broken.
And you’ll break others’ hearts, too.
And you’ll never say sorry.
You will compare yourself to others.
You will fall out of touch with dear friends.
And jealousy will be your new constant companion.
You will not get a job for many years.
You will not feel like a “true adult,” thanks to a tanked economy.
Your Masters thesis will be torn to shreds.
You will be taken advantage of.
Your brain will betray you with anxious thoughts that keep you a shadow of your former self.
But I promise for every moment you spend crying, wondering why you’re so deathly afraid before you’ve truly had a chance to live, ten more incredible memories will take its place.
Your twenties are going to be beautiful, too.
You will fall in love with yourself.
You will face your fears by swimming icy water, jumping off mountains, and roaming lost in new cities.
You will emerge from your ethnocentric shell
And realize we’re all together on this incredible journey called “life.”
You will touch the hearts of America’s youth.
You will accept responsibility for your actions.
And apologize with grace.
You won’t stop being afraid but push forward anyway.
You will learn to equate happiness with experiences instead of things.
You will discover money isn’t all that matters.
Lastly, you will inspire others and yourself.
I want you to know that, even if you’re questioning your beauty and self-worth, you’re still a wonderful, gorgeous, smart, determined person who is absolutely worthy of being called “daughter,” “sister,” and “friend.” Keep your head high. You got this.
“Thirty Year Old” Rachel
Happy Birthday to me. Now make me smile about turning thirty. I’ve been … sulking about it. Yeah.