Happy Birthday, Twenty-Year-Old Me.

GenFab-Anne-Advice-at-twentyHey, Anne, happy birthday! It’s spring of 1990 and today you are twenty.

Last year was not the best one. School in Boston didn’t work out because of money, but you made a good year of it in the city.

The lessons you learned on being self-sufficient will be very useful to you in the years to come.

You’re only five months past your brother’s suicide. It’s going to take a long time for you to feel better, but it will happen.

Don’t rush it. Don’t fight it. You tell people now that it always hurts, but it hurts less as time passes. This is truth.

Maybe try to eat a little more now and a little less later? You’ll thank me for that.

You are about to meet someone. He is about to give you some of the happiest and saddest days of your life.

I’m not going to warn you off. You are about to start on five years of your life that will break you and make you. Try to carry the moments of happiness and joy in your heart. Try to release your bitterness and anger. Those things won’t help you at all.

As far as college is concerned, hey, third time’s the charm. When passion wars with necessity, passion will lose for a while. Remember that you love words, reading, traveling. You can still have all that, even with a business degree that doesn’t quite fit well on your shoulders.

“Me, an accountant?” you think. Relax, because it’s only for a little while and it will help you later. And you look great in a suit.

Enjoy that before the yoga-pants years hit. Plus-sized yoga pants. Please stop crying.

You will be a mother. I know you never thought about that being for you, but it will creep up and shock you with how much you love it.

Cherish every butterfly kiss, cuddle, and spitty baby smooch.

Treasure every meltdown, tantrum, and sleepless night.

Listen to that old woman at the zoo who tells you to put a hat on that baby. Smile back at the middle-aged woman in the grocery store who stares at your kids with teary memories in her eyes. Ask your mother for advice and then take it.

There is a man. He is waiting for you. He will hold you when you cry, help you when you’re sick, and love you when you are unlovable.

He will save you, and you will save him right back. (That’s a line from a movie next year. You’ll like it.)

I think if I could make you do one thing, it would be to take better care of yourself. Go to the doctor sooner. Get a professional to talk to when you are sad and tired after the babies. Don’t ignore pain. Notice when the scale moves and nip it in the bud.

You are the keystone for your home. You don’t want to believe it, but nothing does right if you aren’t happy and functional. If Mama ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy. This means you.

Finally, and possibly most importantly, just say no to those chunky highlights in about ten years. I don’t care what your friends say. For good, honest people, they are liars.

Be well, see you sooner than you think, and don’t worry about the minivan. You’ll still be cool.

This post is part of a blog hop for Generation Fabulous, an amazing group of mid-life women. 
If you are interested in being part of GenFab, email me.
Make sure to read what the other wise women of GenFab have to say to their younger selves here at Chloe Jeffrey’s blog
Before you go, leave me a comment here telling me what you might say to yourself at twenty. 

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  1. You are so cool, Anne.

    • admin says:

      I thank you. I don’t believe you, but I thank you! 😉

  2. Lovely post! So many things we’d love to have heard, right? Though (in my case, at least) I seriously doubt I would have listened. Still, we can dream…

    • admin says:

      I’ve always respected my elders and never been one to buck authority for bucking’s sake. Maybe I would listen to me?

  3. You have a gorgeous smile! Neither of those two men had a chance against that.

    It is so true that we can’t take away the bad without losing the good. I appreciate the love you’ve shown yourself as the you that you were. We did the best we could with what we had and made the best of it in the end.

    • admin says:

      I was doing the very best I could. I’m just lucky to not be living in my mom’s house!

  4. Margaret says:

    I love you, Anne. I wish we could have been accountants together in that former life….

    • admin says:

      Those weren’t particularly good years for me. I’m happier being friends with you now.
      Though, if we worked together, I’d get to see you EVERY DAY!

  5. Beautiful post. It’s nice to be able to look back and make peace with our lives and ourselves.

    • admin says:

      For me, that’s the most important thing. I try to not regret anything and to learn from everything.

  6. I love the part about “if momma ain’t happy”

  7. Love: “don’t worry about the minivan, you’ll be cooler than you think.” Ahhh words of truth spoken to my heart. Great post :)

    • admin says:

      That’s kind of a lie, but I don’t think 20-year-old me could handle the truth.

  8. "SewWhat?" Rebecca says:

  9. Love, Love, LOVE the line about the mini van. For me it was a station wagon!

    • admin says:

      Those are like retro-awesome again! I think I see hipsters driving them, so you know it’s cool.

  10. Beautiful letter! Tears, laughter, life is full of it all!

    • admin says:

      And nobody gets through without both. Lots and lots of both.

  11. If it’s possible, I love you even more after reading this moving post.

    • admin says:

      I cried a little bit this weekend thinking of you and how much I miss you. Thanks for the ego stroke–you always say the right thing.

  12. Love this post. The 20 year old, Anne must have been pretty cool to grow into the XX year old Anne we know today. No one is this awesome without a head-start. Love to you, my friend.

    • admin says:

      She was a little too trusting, a little too cocky. Nobody ever thought she was cool. But she was good and sweet. I like to think that part of her has gotten even better. I want to keep that part of her.

  13. I love this so much. I would tell my 20-year-old self to step away from the credit cards.

    • admin says:

      That is always good advice, Nichole. I don’t think I had a credit card at 20. But, I’m older than you and they were harder to get back in my day.

  14. Anne, I love everything about this — it actually made me teary. Doesn’t matter what you’re driving — you are definitely cool.

    • admin says:

      Thank you, Lois.
      If I was cool, it was despite the minivan!

  15. That was nice. You’ve weathered some difficult challenges and made it.

  16. Dying right now! Laughter through tears, one of the best feelings in the world. Oh Lawd, none of knew there was such a thing as “the yoga pants years”, did we?

    • admin says:

      I don’t know if yoga pants existed in Tennessee in 1990.

  17. Oh, you scrunched my heart up with this one, Anne. “Don’t ignore the pain.” If only we knew at 20 the importance of that. Thank you for sharing so much. You rock!

    • admin says:

      Thanks, Lisa. I have been guilty of ignoring physical and emotional pain for too long.
      Maybe I still am!

  18. This one really tugged at my heart, Anne. Lovely, lovely.

    • admin says:

      Thanks so much, Lynn. I got married at twenty. Probably not the best idea, given the circumstances.

  19. Love it, Anne. Especially the part admonishing her to be nice to us older women! Oh, and the line from “Pretty Woman” too.

    • admin says:

      Having amassed some of that real-life experience, it’s a shame no one wants to hear it. Like they invented babies!

  20. joyweesemoll says:

    Beautiful post — and some great advice! I definitely could have used the pay attention to the scale advice. I love that looking great in a suit is partial compensation for being an accountant.

    • admin says:

      I love dressing up, except for pantyhose. Can’t wait to read your post on this subject!

  21. Boomerwiz says:

    You made it. I was running like someone said “Fire” from this life because I had older sisters. But you made it.

    • admin says:

      My parents’ got divorced when I was little and I think I was trying to re-create a happy family.

  22. I can’t believe that someone born 14 years after me is old enough to be considered a member of GenFab. Hope that makes YOU feel a little younger!

    Love, love, love this! Nice job ladies! Did I say how much I loved this?

    • admin says:

      I have two grown sons–Gen X is middle aged now too!
      Bonnie, it’s been so nice to meet you. I love my GenFab ladies.

  23. LOVED this post! It’s beautifully written and has some sound advice.

    • admin says:

      Thanks, Stephanie. I like being 42 much better than I liked 20. I wish I could let young me know that even though the skin will get all scarred and stretched out, that she will be content in it.

  24. How do you manage to make me laugh and cry in the span of a single post? Anne, you’re a wonderful writer. Look where your love of words is taking you! (And did people tell you how much you look like Geena Davis? Seriously, that’s who I thought was illustrating your post.)

  25. I love this. Raw honesty is so powerful. <3

  26. I would say, “You’re thin, Heather. Lose the baggy sweatshirt and wear some fitted clothes. This won’t last forever.” I’m sure I should say other more substantial things to my twenty-something self, but I am having a fat day.

  27. Teary eyed and poignant. Thank you for sharing this….

  28. I just have to thank you for sharing such a great post. It made me cry, but it also helped me appreciate my teenagers and what they are (and will be) going through. Thank you so much, and Happy Mother’s Day!

    • imnotasupermom says:

      Thank you so much for the compliment, Nancy!

  29. shannoncolleary says:

    Gena Davis wants her face back! Yowza.

  30. Dang! You made me cry!!! I AM that middle-aged woman staring at the babies in supermarkets. And the bit about the man – that was beautiful. :)

  31. Thanks, Katherine. You made my day.


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