Dear 20 year old Ari,
Congratulations on all of your accomplishments – Dean’s List, academic awards, summer internship, etc. You’ve made your family so proud and they are really glad they chose you to be the “role model” for all of your younger siblings and cousins. While the world may see you as a woman who totally has it all together, you and I both know what and who lies behind the mask.
There were things you encountered in your childhood that can’t help but shape how you view the world. You boldly proclaim that not having your father in your life has made you stronger; but actually, it has made you vulnerable, distrustful, defiant, and just plain angry. Go ahead and release that anger now. In a few years, you will learn that it was never about you. You’ll learn that even parents can feel just as broken and defeated by life as anyone else and you can (and will) be their strength.
Know that pleasing everyone will get increasingly more impossible as time goes on, so make sure your happiness is always first priority. They will eventually learn to accept it…or not, but you’ll be too happy to notice. Also, some people will always have something negative to say. It comforts them because misery loves company. Don’t be their company.
I know your recent breakup still hurts a lot. You feel like you’ve lost your best friend and “soulmate” and every song on the radio makes you want to cry. Give it time. You’ll soon realize that it really was for the best. You’ll also find out that you two can actually just be friends and you’ll be glad he didn’t get hit by a bus.
True strength and freedom comes from finding your happiness within yourself. Don’t rely on your friends, partners, children, etc. to make you happy. That’s a heavy demand for anyone, no matter how much they love you.
As awesome as you think you are right now, you will undoubtedly meet a lot of people who are smarter, more talented, wealthier, and more accomplished than you. Always be happy for these people and don’t let their successes discourage you. God has already planned your journey and your destiny will unfold only in His time.
Finally – and most importantly – just relax! It’s ok to not have all of the answers. It’s ok to not know what you want to be when you grow up. There are people older than you who still don’t really know either. Go ahead and pick a major you like. You’ll most likely end up in a totally unrelated job anyway like the majority of college grads. Yes, life is complicated. More complicated than you can even imagine now. You can pull all the all-nighters in the world and it will still be complicated. So just get some rest little girl. Wake up in the morning prepared for a journey… A lifelong journey with highs and lows; with mysteries and revelations, with successes and failures. Don’t be afraid of any of it because it will all make you better and stronger in the end. Love yourself and above all, find your peace!
35 year old Ari
Ps…Don’t waste your money. Nobody’s gonna fall for that fake Missouri driver’s license with the leafy hologram.