Dear Chelsea

Dear Early 20's Me,

I kind of miss you.

The infamous early 20’s… subject of endless blog posts and time of self-exploration and a time when freedom clashes with adulthood before you find yourself in the sea of matching houses in a strangely named suburb somewhere on the outskirts of a city. Doesn’t feel like your future? Don’t worry; I can assure you that is where you are headed, happily. It’s not a sad existence, it’s everything you want right now, but there are some funny things you learn on the road to get there.

I’m not out of my 20’s yet, but I guess the grip of almost being at thirty has got me thinking about some things. It’s 2016. I have a house and an SUV that matches all the other SUVs. I’ve got two dogs and not quite 2.5 kids but it sure feels like that some days. I’m figuring out this cooking thing, and yes, I have finally stocked my kitchen full of all the beautiful cookware and you have invested too much money into Vietri but that is an heirloom brand and it’s going to be my thing. Throw pillows? I’ve got them! Nice bed linens and towels? They are investments. So is a temperature regulating mattress. Don’t take that information lightly.  I have a whole closet of board games and I’ve figured out how to pay bills and lose two hours in Target all in the same day. The suburban dream, so why am I sitting here writing to myself, a letter to the person I used to be six years ago? It is because there’s something funny that happens when you reach the place you have always wanted to get to.

To myself, circa sometime in 2010…

This is a plea to you as your life is about to change. Soak up the moments and don’t forget the things that brought you the most happiness. The material objects you are dreaming for and coveting are icing on the cake of life, but it is the little moments that hold that beautiful cake together. My hope is that you don’t find yourself one day forgetting to be thankful or counting the wrong blessings. Do not be the woman who ponders how a life so good could feel so bad. Try not to day dream of an alternate existence because we are not promised tomorrow and that’s not just a cheap cliché.

Learn to love yourself now. Drink in your experiences, fortunes and struggles so you don’t miss the present when it becomes the past. Never forget the things that made you smile and laugh until your stomach hurt, the late night car rides and counting pennies for a Slurpee at 7/11 on midnight adventures. The next chapter will happen when it is supposed to happen, so calm down and enjoy the story. You wouldn’t skip ahead in a book you are reading because you would miss such crucial moments that build up the character. That character is you. You’re constantly building upon yourself and even though it feels like you’re kicked down 10 out of 11 times, that is a stepping stone to a future where you’re up more often than not.

There is a novelty to that beat up green car you are driving that you will miss one day, I promise you that. That car holds years of memories and laughs and those musty old cloth seats tell a story that your leather interior and lease payment never will. Your apartment with the cabinet door that doesn’t work quite right? One day you will look back on that cabinet door and laugh at how much you hated it. You will remember fondly the times you walked to the ice cream shop because you couldn’t afford to register your car just yet. The change jar that kept getting emptied and traded in for dollars will be a fond foundation for so many silly memories. Stop trying to rush the future. These are the days you will hold closest to your heart and try so hard to get back to.

I think that I lost sight of life somewhere along the way. We’ve conditioned ourselves to chase materials, not memories and we’re all using the hashtag (you’ll figure that out sooner or later) #LiveAuthentic to promote our personal brands rather than actually living “authentically.” Am I guilty of it? Abso-fucking-lutely. But that’s why I’m here, writing this in hopes that you alter your journey... “If I knew then what I know now,” the unfortunate theme of my life.  Enjoy that trail down by the river because you won’t live within walking distance of it forever. Spend more time at the beach and collect more beach glass. Take more pictures. Find the perfect running trail and run it, every day. Smell the mountains and the beaches and the fresh air. They are all things you take for granted that you shouldn’t. Pay more attention in Social Psychology. Look people in the eyes. Hug more. Watch the sunset. Live more.

I’ll leave you here, to go about your life. But I beg you, armed with the knowledge that all your dreams will come true and your goals will be realized, please enjoy these moments. You cannot get them back. I can’t tell you how many nights I have sat and looked back on my early 20’s, laughing about how it felt like the end of the world, wishing I could go back to that for just a little bit and enjoy it a little more. And I know that things always look better in the rearview mirror, but you only have a couple years of struggle between now and then. So live it up. Every late bill, every shitty day of not knowing when things are going to get better, every empty wallet moment and every adventure to nowhere. Live. It. Up. There’s no reason to dwell on these things. This too shall pass.

Oh, and write that book you keep talking about.

Xoxo, me.