Dear Karen

Dear Past Me,

It’s your first day of college sleeping under crisp new sheets in your bed in your dorm room. You’re listening to your roommates breathing softly in the dark, two complete strangers who have been randomly picked to become your best friends, the people whom you are to navigate through this scary change with. You’re questioning the first big decision your mom has not made for you: college. You’re wondering why you ever decided to attend college three thousand miles away from your family and how you’ll survive until winter break.

Take heart, Future Me is here to let you know that you will get through this. Sure, there will be blips in the road but that’s all they are. Blips. Little bumps. There will be exams, papers to write (you won’t do as well in English but you will do excellent in organic chemistry!), parties to go to, alcohol, drugs. You’ll take your first sip of beer and you won’t like it but you’ll keep drinking it because that’s what you do at college parties. You’ll spend hours studying in the library and turn down dates with boys for a date with the stacks. Be open. Give them a chance. Have more fun. Take more leaps. Try new things. Have new experiences. You will never again in your life have your parents pay for you to explore who you are.

But, good news! All those marathon weekend sessions in the library will pay off. You’ll go to medical school like you’ve always wanted, although, you’ll discover that you’re just a little fish now in a big pond. Yes, there are actually way more people out there who are smarter than you and are better than you at taking tests! Don’t let this bother you. Here’s a secret I’ll let you in on: there’s always going to be someone who does something better than you. But that’s okay. Just stay true to yourself. Don’t worry about what they are doing. Don’t compare yourself. It will only drive you crazy in the long run. Just do you.

Somehow, being the little fish that you are, you’ll swim to other side of the pond. You’ll make it through medical school, finding yourself in residency. Here’s where it gets interesting. You’ll start to regret decisions you have made. The first regret will be what specialty you chose. The second regret will be the city you chose to do residency in. The third regret will be the man you let get away. Feeling regret is a mistake. You make the best decisions that you can with the information you have at that time. That’s it. Regret leaves a bitter taste in your mouth. It’s like a vine which wraps itself around your brain and your heart. A poison. Regret prevents you from being happy. And, Past Me…we need you to be happy.

Guess what? You’ll forge a new path. You’ll find a new city that you’re happy in. A new job you’ll love. A new guy who is everything you ever needed but never knew you wanted. Yeah, that old cliché.

But I need you to remember what we talked about when you were in college. You’ll need to take chances. Release any fear you have. Not let that fear drive your decisions. For if you make decisions based upon fear, I guarantee you’ll become best friends again with Regret. Nothing worthwhile ever came out of fear.

If you follow what I say, you’ll end up here. Writing a letter to Past Me while breastfeeding your beautiful, perfect son in the dark while your daughter sleeps in the next room. Yes, you heard me right. You’re a mother. Betcha never thought that would happen. I’m here to tell you that it does. And you are rocking it. Not just motherhood, but life.

Love,
Future Me

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Karen Yeter has been writing since she was given her first diary at age seven. Her first poem was featured outside the bulletin board of her high school library. In her free time, she writes short stories and poetry and is currently working on a women’s fiction novel about the relationship between a father and a daughter. Her writings have been featured on Pulse, KevinMD and Mothers in Medicine.