A letter to my younger self:
This is your future 30-year old self. As I write this letter I celebrate our ninth wedding anniversary watching our two small children breathe peacefully as they nap. Life is as different as you could imagine at your young age.
You are getting ready to embark on the journey of life, leaving everything you know as you head off to college. You will hit many bumps in the road but don’t let them knock you down. You are stronger than you know or can even imagine. Life may not turn out exactly as you expect but you will find that it can be even better than you imagined.
You might think at this age that you have it all figured out. You know exactly what kind of career you want to have and what your life will be like. News flash. You don’t. You are going to meet people who laugh at your dreams and ridicule your progress. They will tell you that you will never be what you want to be and flat out tell you will fail in your major of choice. And you’ll listen to them, but you don’t have to. Just know that should you choose to listen to this professor who finds fault in your dreams it will be okay. You will jump around with your majors, but in the end, you will end up with your degree, but more importantly, you will end up with the skills you need to live life on your own terms—not those of other people. Just have faith in yourself.
You need to have more confidence in yourself. And this is not just about your major but about every aspect of your life. You can do anything you put your mind to if you just try and have confidence in yourself. One thing you will question is whether you should study abroad. You will question whether you can do it being away from your family for so long. You will worry about what it will be like to be in a culture that you know relatively nothing about. I did not study abroad for these exact reasons, and it is one regret that I had until I traveled with Abhi. Be confident in who you are and what you are capable of achieving.
Who is Abhi? We’ll get to that. Stop worrying about being alone. In fact, revel in the time that you are alone and learn to love yourself. You will not always be alone. You have been steadfast and dedicated to succeeding in your studies. Love will come to you only when you are truly ready to accept it. In fact, once you open yourself up to be loved, which can only be done once you love yourself, you will meet the most wonderful man (this is Abhi) that will open your horizons and present you with a unique opportunity to not only see the world but to become a global citizen of the world.
You will meet Abhi shortly before you graduate and you will have to head back home. But don’t despair. Everything works out in the end. Opportunity will knock on your door and fate works in mysterious ways. Just let it all happen. You will end up back in the city with your love and married before you know it. Everything works out in the end.
Deciding to marry Abhi will seem like hardly a decision at all as it will feel as though you have already been together for all time and it only seems natural to continue doing so. But hold the phone. My oh my, will you get backlash. Not everyone will be so thrilled with your new found love. They will wish and hope and pray that it is all just a phase and that you will grow out of it or find someone new. Know this—marrying someone like Abhi will come with a host of difficulties that have never crossed your mind. However, together you both can push through everything and anything. Sometimes the hard decisions are the right decisions.
Marrying Abhi will bring out new colors in those that are close to you. You will be presented with opinions that challenge your own and make you question yourself. You must be confident in yourself and your decisions. It will feel like everyone has turned their backs on you. Please please please know that you have not had healthy boundaries in your life thus far. Healthy boundaries are important for your happiness and as difficult as it may be it you must maintain healthy boundaries.
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You will find that those that you call friends will not be there with you through thick and thin. It’s a known fact that many friends are lost with distance and time. But you will lose friends from your life choices as well. Many will not agree with your choices and will simply disagree with you and stop talking to you altogether. This will be hard. Especially when it is friends that you thought you would share major life moments with. Even some family members will be lost as a result of your life choices. In other words, family and friends can disappoint. The choice to no longer be associated with you is on them, not you! You are not responsible for the decisions that they make. Just continue being a good friend and fight for what you believe.
You will also find that what you dream about may fade away and new dreams will come along. You grew up dreaming of your wedding with your white dress and walking down the aisle. Raising your family in your own house in the suburbs with a fenced in yard and swing set and sandpit for the kids. All the while you would be working in a corporate job, moving up the ladder, and being successful in the eyes of society. With the life experiences you will have, these dreams will fade. You will not have a white wedding but you will have a marriage filled with love (without a massive bill for a party with people who don’t support you). Dreams change and that’s okay.
I know I’ve said a lot so far but bear with me. I have some more insight to give (if you’ll just humor me a little bit more). I know you’ve heard this before and you’ve been skeptical of this advice but… TAKE CARE OF YOURSELF! Get up early on Saturday mornings and go to that yoga session. Manage your time and go on Thursday evenings. Get your sleep, stop fiddle-farting around, and focus on yourself. Learn how to meditate and simply take the time to be at peace with the quiet. I know you probably won’t believe this, but one day you’ll be vegan. You might as well just jump the gun and get on with it because once you start you will never look back and take all of those that you can with you. Also, learn to love exercise. Take advantage of the free personal coach at the campus gym and get in shape. You’ve been self-conscious about your weight your whole life and you will continue to be if you don’t do something about it. You will become bigger than you could ever imagine if you don’t take control of the situation. And drink more water! You never drink enough water and you and I both know that’s a problem. Taking care of yourself is important for your sanity, it’ll help regulate your mood, reduce your stress levels and just make you happier. I know you think this is all just a bunch of gibberish but in time you will understand.
Another point for you- calm the hell down!!! You are way too uptight and worried for reasons beyond your control. It makes you a miserable person to be around and results in you being unhappy. Chill out, girlfriend. There are things that happen that are out of your control. Living in India will teach you to go with the flow. Things happen on their own time and in ways that you may or may not agree with, but getting all stressed out about it is only having negative effects on your health and your happiness. I know it’s easy for me to say but please give it a go—focus on the positive and cleanse yourself of the negative.
In the end, you will find that you want to live life on your own terms. While you might think now that the corporate life is for you, there is an immense freedom that comes from foregoing the corporate rat race and instead pursuing your passions and interests. Marrying Abhi will give you family on both sides of the world and being in a corporate setting would require you to choose one side of the family over the other. Living life independently will allow you the freedom to have both sides of the family in your life as well as travel the world. However, this life will come with immense challenges for you to overcome. You’ve got this. Fight for the life you want.
Despite all of this, know you that you are enough. As a woman, as a mother, as a wife, as a daughter, and as an individual you are enough. Never feel as though you are not good enough or that someone else is better than you. While that may be true, it is also true that you are creative, open-minded and big-hearted. You are a mother who will do whatever humanly possible to provide your children with the best life possible and someone who loves deeply. No matter what you might say to yourself in the mirror (or your head) you are enough and don’t you forget it.
And on that note (and this is my last point I promise), love yourself. I know that voice in your head is negative and you always see the worst in yourself, but for once see the good yourself. Be kind to yourself and give your self a hug. Tell yourself that you are beautiful at least once a week, if not more. Love yourself for all of your curves, misgivings, and mistakes (they are opportunities to learn from and grow). But most of all love yourself because you deserve it.
Now I have rambled on enough. If you’ve stuck with me this far, which I know you’ve probably only skimmed, at least take the main points to heart. You’ve got this and no matter how bleak things may appear there is always light at the end of the tunnel and your happiness is within your control.
Your older self
For all you skimmers out there:
- Have faith in yourself
- Be confident in who you are and what you are capable of achieving
- Love will come to you only when you are ready to accept it
- Everything works out in the end
- Sometimes hard decisions are the right decisions
- You must be confident in yourself and your decisions
- Family and friends can disappoint
- Dreams change and that’s okay
- Take care of yourself
- Focus on the positive and cleanse yourself of the negative
- Fight for the life you want
- YOU ARE ENOUGH!!
- Love yourself