Dear Twenty-something me

Editor’s note: A couple of weeks ago I asked readers what advice they’d give to today’s 20 and 30 somethings. I got several great responses including advice about having kids and creating and living your bucket list. For one reader in particular, the question sparked an internal dialogue that ended with a letter to her twenty-something self.  In today’s post, Clare shares her letter with the WAF community…

Dear Twenty-something me:

So you’re a junior in college and your head’s screwed on backwards.  Boyfriend troubles, GREs loom on next year, and you don’t have a summer job lined up yet.  Mom and Dad still take care of you: you’re living under their roof when not in school, you have their health-care, they feed and clothe you.  Your auto insurance is only $5.00, which they pay for too.  They bought a car for you when the ol’ big Bertha Wagon died.  You have no idea what monthly payments are.

Lucky you.

Here’s what you have to look forward to:
Getting back together with your boyfriend.  Again.
Breaking up with your boyfriend.  Again.
Summer jobs.
Next year, your last.  Friends from freshman year are room-mates.
Getting back together with your boyfriend.  Again.
Another summer job.
Graduate School.

But even that’s so easy compared to what you have to deal with now.  Are you taking all this for granted, or is it really hard on you?  Do you take it all in stride?

Because wait, there’s more:
Fast-forward to 1994.  You’re 22 going on 23 now.  You’ve been in graduate school for nearly a year.  And you hate it.
You just got engaged to your boyfriend (the one you broke up with twice).
You just found out that your father had a massive silent heart attack, is having triple-bypass surgery, has kidney stones that won’t pass (you can’t make this stuff up!) and by the way he has terminal cancer.
So you plan the wedding.  It’ll be a reunion for your dad, the ceremony is inconsequential to what really matters, and you don’t care.

1995.  April.  Wedding bells.  August.  Birthday.  August-day-after-birthday: father passes away.  You’ve been in a new state, with a new husband, and new family, for four months.  And a new job.  What else can be thrown at you?

Were you expecting this?  Ever?  Making $6.50 an hour full-time, supporting your husband who’s getting his Associates Degree?

Fast-forward again to 2002.  You’re 30 now, going on 31.  Seven years later…new job, again.  Been living in this new town for five years and you love it.  “Half-Backed” to New York, they say.  This is supposed to be the “Seven Year Itch” for marriages.  No time.  You spend ten days in the hospital wondering what’s wrong with you.

Surprise!  You have Lupus!  Nothing you’ve done before this was hard.

Why is it that hind-sight is twenty-twenty?

You truck on.  You learn from the doctors, you adjust your life.  You go on medical leave for four months, grudgingly.  That new job, that coveted job, is gone.  You’re in the house for the entire summer.  What the hell are you going to do with yourself?  Introspection.  Tend to tomatoes.  No hard work, no lifting, no stress.

2011.  Nine years now you’ve had lupus.  You lost the house due to medical reasons (bankruptcies should be lenient for people who have medical problems.  Just sayin’). You’ve moved three times since you got sick – Myrtle Beach, SC, and then back to the place you started when you got married, and back to where you started when you got lupus.  What have you learned?

1.  I have learned that I am me and I have always been me despite the setbacks.  Am I stronger because I lost my father four months after I got married?  Probably.  Am I stronger because there was no “seven year itch” in my marriage due to the lupus?  Probably.  Is my marriage stronger?  Absolutely.

2.  I have learned that my husband is my best friend.  Even though we broke up a few times when I was in college.  When all you have is your husband in a town where you have no family, it kind of gets that way.  The few friends – actual friends – you make become your family.  You make new friends and you lose old ones.  Things you thought you had in common, not so much.  New things you have in common with your new friends: it’s like you’re long lost siblings.

3.  I have learned that nothing truly matters more than my health.  I still don’t exercise like I’m supposed to, but I’m healthier than I’ve been since I got Lupus, which, by the way, you can learn about by going to  For me to go into what it is…is another story.

4.  I live for the quality of life.  Not for the quantity of things.

5.  And on a funny note:  I’ll be 40 on August 1.  I still look twenty-something.  Must be the genes.

What would your letter to your twenty-something self say? Share in the comment section or on our Facebook Fan Page.

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Blogger, self-proclaimed-philosopher, voracious eater and opinion sharer.


    That our Girl, we really enjoyed reading it
    Mom and Dad

    PS  I did not know you broke off Erik so many times(TRUE LOVE)