Editor’s note: While I’m struggling to write the sequel to the 10 things I’ve learned in 40 years post, I thought I’d revisit a post I wrote almost 2 years ago. It’s a letter to the little girl I once was. Oh if only we could go back and share our wisdom with the little girls we once were – how might our lives be different? Some of you are familiar with this exercise but for those who aren’t, I’d encourage you to write your own letter to your former self, and if you’re inclined, share it with your daughters. It will remind them that before you were “just” their mothers, you were young women, teens and yes, even little girls.
20 things you need to know – Hey you, standing over there looking tough and cute the way little girls often do, it’s me, well you – in about 36 years. Some things haven’t changed much. With the exception of the ribbon, your hair looked a lot like that this morning, and that stance, you still got that. You often have that same ‘four parts curiosity, one part ‘what the hell are you looking at” look on your face even at this age – And the legs…well, like I said, some things haven’t changed much.
I wish I could protect you from, and prepare you for all that lies ahead, but I can’t. No one can really. But what I can do is share some things that only I’ll be able to. Some people think the past, present and future are all happening at once, so who knows. I know you won’t understand everything I’m saying, but take notes, you’ll need them.
- Some of the people in your life will disappoint you, lie to you, hurt you. Some of them are just stupid. Others are just evil. Forgive them all, stupid and evil alike, and move on. Remember what they did and learn from it. Don’t hold what they’ve done to you against anyone else.
- That thing you want to do with your hair in the eighties. Don’t. You leave dozens of grease spots up and down the east coast because of it, and Chris Rock will mock it mercilessly in a documentary he releases in 2009.
- Try to get that eating thing under control early – believe me, you’ll be fighting that battle for years. In the meantime, live your life and do the things you want to do, regardless of what the scale says.
- You’re going to have several really great ideas for businesses. Instead of talking yourself out of it, just do it. You are smarter, stronger and more resilient than you know.
- You know how they said it would be too difficult to be a successful, black, female journalist? Oprah’s like the richest person on the planet now. Seriously. Don’t listen to them.
- Learn early to worry less about what people think about you. The truth is, people spend a lot less time thinking about you than you know.
- Back in college, that cute guy that kinda looked like Tom Hanks liked you. Do NOT look at him like he’s crazy when he wants to work on “the project” at your house. That old dude on the other hand is just a freak. Stay away from him.
- Those two annoying, screaming things that invaded your “only child” sanctuary will become your best friends and biggest supporters.
- When people show you who they are, please, please, PLEASE believe them. It will save you years of heartache.
- Relationships aren’t always easy, but they shouldn’t always be hard. If you spend most of your time wondering if it’s worth it, it’s not.
- When you go to light that grill in ‘91, take a couple quick steps back. Blonde eyelashes and eyebrows are not a good look on you.
- Credit cards are not free money. Stop using them to make yourself feel better. In the end you’ll only feel worse and be broke.
- The stock market crashes on October 19, 1987 and again on September 16, 2008. If you have any more money in the future than I did, move it!
- On September 11, 2001 the world changes forever.
- Do you know who Barack Obama is? You will in 2008.
- That thing you’re crying your eyes out about at ages 14-16, 18, 23 and 25, in a couple of months you won’t even remember what all the drama was about.
- He’s not coming back. Don’t wait for him. Don’t wait for that other one either.
- Do you even know where Italy is? Well, in about 30 years, you spend two weeks there and it’s even more beautiful than you ever imagined. One day you’re going to live there. (If Three 6 Mafia…)
- All that time you spend waiting for Mr. Right, don’t. Instead, use the time to make sure you’re not Ms. Wrong.
- You’ve come a long way baby, and you’ve got a long way to go.
If you’d like to share a letter to your former self with the WAF community, email contribute(@)womenatforty.com.