An Open Letter to My 25 Year-Old Self – 10 Years Later

looking back

I was 25 years old when I met the man I would eventually marry…and divorce 7 years later. I remember spending a lot of time in my late teens and early 20’s crying over random, loser guys and wondering if I would ever find the “one.” Truth be told, I would love to go back and punch that whiny girl in the face. If I knew then what I know now…let’s just say that heartache in early adulthood is a walk in the park compared to heartache at 35. I would give anything to go back to that time, that time before real life, real jobs, mortgages, and ex-husbands and just shake myself. I would love to tell my old self that the next 10 years were going to be quite trying and would test me in every way possible; that I would need to develop some thick skin and learn some better coping skills.

I remember the feeling that I had when I realized I was finally in relationship that was actually going somewhere, for the first time, with a man who really wanted to be with me and who was emotionally ready for committment. It felt exhilarating – as if everything I had always hoped for was finally coming to fruition. We would grow old together, have a family, and live happily ever after. Except that’s not exactly how my story went. Now 10 years later, let’s just say my life has not turned out at all like I had expected it would. There is a lot that I wish I could tell my 25 year old self, a lot I wish I could have prepared her for. So if I could go back in time, these are some things I would want her to know:

  • Thinking someone needs to love you just the way you are is a shitty excuse to not work on yourself. This is going to be a common theme in your life because you are stubborn and you will not understand that all relationships take work – and some of that work includes working on becoming the best version of yourself that you can be. You will spend too many years believing that if somebody loves you it means that they need to put up and accept all of your terrible habits. Fix the things that you can change. Being resistant and stuck in your ways (one of your bad habits, by the way) will only result in resentment from your partner.
  • Fight for your relationships, but know when to walk away. At some point you will both be wasting each other’s time when one or both of you stops being willing to put in the work it will take to keep the relationship afloat. Recognize that not every relationship is meant to weather the storm, and some are just meant to be one chapter of your story and not the entire book. Life is too short to spend too many years in an unfulfilling and doomed relationship. Before you know it, you will turn around and be 10 years older with nothing to show for it.
  • Don’t compare yourself to other women. It’s a battle you will never win. Someone will always have more and will always have it better. Comparing yourself will only make you miserable and the truth is you will never know what is going on behind others’ closed doors.
  • Don’t put so much emphasis on the material things that you have and don’t have. The size of your diamond ring, house, and designer shoe collection is eventually going to mean nothing because the ring will end up in a safe, the house will be sold, and the shoes will end up on Poshmark when you eventually need to support yourself. You are going to place too much importance on these things to the detriment of your marriage. Don’t be an asshole.
  • Appreciate all the times that you do have someone in your life. It will be easy for you to forget to be grateful and you will develop a habit of just expecting things to get done – dishes to get washed, bills to get paid, and driveways to get shoveled. It won’t be until you’re doing everything by yourself that you will realize that perhaps you never said thank you enough for all of the small things.
  • When it comes to motherhood, figure out what you honestly want. Things are not going to go how you imagined. You may have to accept and come to terms with the idea that you may never become a mother. You may never end up meeting the man who will end up being the father of your children. You will eventually need to do some soul searching and figure out if you will be satisfied living your life without children, or if motherhood is something you are willing to do on your own by whatever means necessary. Don’t wait until it’s too late to figure this out.
  • Allow your best friends the freedom to have their own lives without resenting them for leaving you behind. You’re not always going to be the greatest friend either and you will eventually want them to be more understanding when you choose not to share some of the crappy things that are happening in your life. Also be open to new friendships. You will meet people along the way who will change your life in ways you could never have imagined and who will be there for you in ways that old friends won’t.
  • Appreciate your family more. Try not to shut everyone out when you are going through tough times. You have a tendency to alienate people. Learn better habits when it comes to keeping in touch with your friends and family. You will regret not making more of an effort.
  • Find something you are passionate about early on. You are going to suddenly find yourself without a social life when your friends are all married with children. Find something that makes you happy so that you’re not sitting home every night watching TV while your life passes you by. You are going to wait too long to do this and you will spend too much time feeling empty and sorry for yourself.
  • Don’t be ashamed of the skeletons in your closet. You will suffer from depression and anxiety for a long time. You will also be hit with a pretty serious medical issue. Many years will be spent attempting to deal with these things on your own and in private. The minute you become more open about these things, the easier it will be to manage them.
  • Learn when to hold grudges and when to let go. You will spend too many years hanging on to unnecessary anger. Eventually you will learn how to better deal with people who disappoint you. You should learn to do this earlier as it will impact some of your relationships.
  • Learn how to be more domestic and organized. For a long time you will blame your mother for never forcing you to do anything for yourself, and for not helping you to develop better habits. You will make excuses for your inadequacies instead of working on fixing them. Your inherent messiness and disorganization are going to be repeating issues in your relationships and will cause you even more distress when you are living alone.
  • Don’t waste so many tears on the wrong guys. You will almost always look back and wonder how you could have cared so much. Start asking yourself early on if these are really men you could ever see yourself marrying. If your gut says no, enjoy it for what it was and have the strength to let it go.
  • Speaking of your gut…You will ignore it, challenge it, insist that it isn’t in working order – but it is. You will just spend too many years choosing to avoid following your instincts and not paying attention to the red flags in your life. Make an effort to listen to your gut even if it’s telling you things that you don’t want to hear.
  • Smile more – resting bitch face is a real thing and you suffer from it. Your lack of a pleasant demeanor makes you appear standoffish and unapproachable. This will not be a good thing later on when you are hoping to meet someone.
  • Don’t wait until after your divorce to start taking yoga. It will center you later in life and it will make you feel better about your body than you have ever felt. You will spend too many years constantly criticizing yourself until you discover this passion.
  • Understand that there isn’t always something better around the corner. The earlier you realize that nobody is perfect, the better off you will be, and the more you can learn to appreciate the people in your life. You will ruin relationships because you will begin to doubt your compatibility when everything isn’t always running smoothly.
  • Don’t expect everyone to do what you would do or to think the way you think – you will just end up being disappointed by most people. You are naturally empathetic and your instincts are always to give to others and to be there for others. You will find that you are often left out in the cold in your time of need. Eventually you will stop being the good friend you are capable of being. Don’t do this. Most people will be there for you if you just let them know that you’re in need. That’s on you.
  • You will spend too many years living with regret. Don’t. Make decisions with the confidence that deep down you know that you are doing the right thing. Most of the time your decisions will be good ones. When they’re not, don’t spend years of your life beating yourself up. Learn from your mistakes so that you don’t make them again.
  • Take better care of yourself physically and emotionally, because you won’t be able to rely on someone else to do it for you.You won’t always be this skinny. Your weight is going to fluctuate.You are going to end up letting yourself go a little bit during your marriage and will get too comfortable. Don’t take the men in your life for granted. Love is not just about appearances, but you should always try to look your best and don’t make lame excuses for why you can’t. Nobody wants a frumpy wife or girlfriend. And start taking better care of your skin earlier. Botox is expensive.
  • Learn how to fight fairer. You’re full of words and thoughts and feelings, and you will spend the next 10 years believing that the best way to express yourself is to get everything out immediately, often by yelling or chastising. You will eventually discover that sometimes it really is better to marinate and not force conversations to happen in the heat of the moment. You will be better off learning this earlier in your life as you will end up saying many things that you can never take back and in return will force people in your life to hurt you with their heat of the moment responses.
  • Understand that life is not a romantic comedy. You will spend too many years having unrealistic expectations about love and you will end up turning down perfectly nice men because they don’t fit the ideals that you have about romance. The sooner you get a reality check the better. Eventually you will start to realize what is truly important – and it is less about grand romantic gestures and more about having someone that you can always depend on to truly support and encourage you.
  • Learn how to be a more positive person. You will need this quality when you are 35 years-old, divorced, childless, and living with a dog that still shits on the floor when he’s mad at you because you’re writing your blog instead of playing with him. This is a good analogy for how your life is going to be for the next 10 years – you will be dealing with a lot of shit. The sooner you clean it up and move on, the better off you’ll be. And the better your house will smell.

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10 thoughts on “An Open Letter to My 25 Year-Old Self – 10 Years Later

  1. Written so well, a lot of this would be things I’d love to smack my 20 yr old, know it all self with. We think we got it all figured out then, and really don’t know shit about what’s real.

    1. Thanks so much Brandi! I know, isn’t it crazy how we really think we know everything when we are young? I’m still paying for half of those mistakes now…not that I’ve learned my lesson since apparently I’m still screwing things up. But hey, at least I’m self-aware and it seems like you are too. So at least we’ve got that going for us 🙂

  2. Your points remind me of the book Marry Him: the Case for Settling for Mr. Good Enough, by Lori Gottlieb. I’ve never read a dating self-help book, but I picked it up this past January, at 27, and I think it made a huge difference in my life. Young women have so many men after them at any given time, that they think it will all be this way. They don’t work on themselves or give anyone less than perfect a chance.

    1. You are so right Belle. At 25 I wasn’t so much worried that I wouldn’t meet anyone, rather I had been worried about meeting “the one.” And I definitely didn’t even consider that I needed to work on myself at all. Now at 35 I am lucky if I can meet anyone relatively normal who isn’t dragging around a suitcase full of baggage. Definitely different concerns these days than back then. There are so many books that I read after my divorce that I had wished I had read during my marriage! Many ‘aha’ moments! I will have to check out your book suggestion as well!

  3. This was well-written and such a great read. I may have to borrow this idea at some point because I was so inspired. Thank you so much for sharing this with us.

    1. Thank you so much for your kind words. Self-reflection, even if it comes too late to change certain things, is always enlightening.

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