Twice this week I had lunch conversations with women also in their mid-30s. At some point in the conversations, we hit on the topic of, if I knew then what I know now, and debated telling some darling younger women we know, “just breathe.” Then we laughed. Hard. Because we would NEVER have listened to anyone who told us to simma down 10 years ago.
Then I noticed a very sweet girl I met this fall asked women to write letters to their 20-something selves. She’s trying to navigate her 20s with some measure of grace. So for what it’s worth, if I could talk to the me 10 years ago who would not have listened at all:
Breathe. Just Breathe. And calm down. It’s all gonna be fine. I know you really want someone you can believe to tell you that. So believe me; it will. Some things are gonna happen in the next decade: some good, some bad. We’ll hit the highlights.
You are gonna gain and lose the same 25 pounds SEVERAL times. If you will ignore your husband’s catterwalling about your closet, you can save some money on clothes by just keeping the range of about 4 sizes on hand.
Sometimes you wake up. Sometimes the fall kills you. And sometimes, when you fall, you fly. ~Neil Gaiman
You are going to fail. You will fail in such miserable, spectacular, mortifying fashion that you’ll think you can never show your face again. I know this has not really happened to you before. But you’ll get over it. It will be fine.
Opportunities will come your way you couldn’t have imagined. Amazing, fabulous, pinch-yourself-to-be-sure-you’re-not-dreaming, thrilling stuff is gonna happen to you.
You will make some of the best friends you could possibly imagine. You will add them to the mix of super friends you already have. They will remind you to laugh at yourself. They will hold your hands when you cry. They will pray for you. They will know when your voice just has that “cupcake” sound in it. They will go to the store to prevent you from wearing backup makeup in public on purpose. They will call you out when you are being a moron. They will allow you moments of ugliness, but never cruelty. They will keep you between the ditches.
You will learn the grace of forgiveness. You will give it. You will need it. You will be humbled by getting it. It will change your view of the world.
[Grace is] help you receive when you have no bright ideas left, when you are empty and desperate and have discovered that your best thinking and most charming charm have failed you. ~Anne Lamott
You will be hit with the bone-crushing, soul-wrenching reality of infertility. You will doubt your worth as a human. You will cry tears you didn’t know you had. You will get perspective. You will rally. You will hold your husband’s hand and remember your worth is not in your uterus. It just feels that way sometimes.
You will participate in the greatest act of love in the history of the world. Monkey Boy’s birth mom will place him in your arms when he is seven days old. In return, you will make the most solemn promise of your life, along with your wedding vows, to be a good mother to him. Most days you will keep it.
You will systematically lose respect for people you never thought you could. You will find new appreciation for those you didn’t understand before. You will be disappointed. You will be pleasantly surprised.
Your family will become this wacky, off-beat lot. And it will work. But love doesn’t look like what you think it will. And that’s ok. It will be fine.
Good friend, always be open to the miracle of the second chance. ~Rev. David Stier
You will grieve: for your own losses, for others, for what is gone, for what will never be. You will heal: miraculously, every time there is a wound, it heals.
You will laugh. Deep, full-bellied laughs until your stomach hurts and your face feels like it will fall off.
So breathe. Just breathe. And calm down. It’s all gonna be fine.