A Letter To My 30-Something-Year-Old Self


Can we talk about how insane your twenties are? (Lol at me acting like that’s not what I write about every month.) Like no offense but what in the actual f*ck? Y’all just let this happen to us with no warning and we have to adapt to being in quarter-life crisis mode for half a decade? I’m EXHAUSTED. It’s Kate, actually, that I’ve talked to (begged for reassurance) on multiple occasions about how intense this ride feels right now. She always gives me this knowing smile, and promises me that your thirties are so much better. And I just kind of stare at her like she’s this oracle and beg for her to tell me more because I want to be tidal-waved in validation that the decade after this one will be just a tiiiinnny bit easier. Or just, different, rather.

Like ideally I could yell down a time travel tube (tube? idk) and just say “HEY! Are you still an anxious psycho or did you figure some sh*t out?” And she’d yell back “Everything’s fine! Please stop picking your face though!” and I could just go about my business knowing in 2028 I’m doin’ A-OK.

So I’m writing myself a letter. I’ve already set a calendar reminder for myself to check in on this each anniversary this article goes live for the next ten years, assuming my phone’s not just built into my brain or something by that point.

Ahem.


Dear Me:

I hope you can walk by a mirror, or a window and not reflexively look into it to make sure you look okay. You look GREAT! Also: WHO CARES?!!! (I do care, a lot.)

I hope you can wake up on a Monday morning and have peace of mind. You have really bad Monday Scaries and you keep doin’ this routine meltdown thing? It bums me out.

I hope you can learn how to calm and center yourself solo and not salivate for the reassurance from others. It would be the most useful tool you could ever teach yourself.

I hope you’re sure of your words and deliver them with confidence. You know what you’re talking about! Don’t get in your own head as soon as you open your mouth. Speak up! Conviction!

I hope your student loan debt is below like at least $20,000! Not your fault though, student loan debt is a national crisis and we will all die with Sallie Mae still as our #1 enemy!

I hope you’ve learned how to process bumps in the road a little better because, Geez, you are a sensitive little flower and I worry desperately for when a real actual bad life thing happens to you.

I hope confidence grows in you from something other than outside validation. Like girlfriend, why are you so “GIVE ME IT OR I’LL DIE” about approval from people you don’t even really care for? What’s that all about?

I hope by now you don’t assume that people that don’t know you are immediately turned off or annoyed by you right as you open your mouth. WOWWW that feels six shades of pathetic to type out. (It’s true: If you don’t know me and you hear me talk I assume you’re now thinking about how you thought I was going to be smarter. It’s fun. It’s a fun game I play. WOO I love games.)

On a similar note, I hope you find value in and fully believe your own instincts. You have intuition, unlike anything I’ve ever seen. Believe what you feel. Sharpen that superpower as much as you can.

I hope your sharp edges have rounded a bit. You can be a little intense. I think you like to feel like you’re heard, which I get! I think that’ll dwindle as you (God-willing) get more confident.

I hope you call your parents more. You seem to loosely grasp that they won’t be around forever but let’s maybe stop acting like they will.

I hope you have at least like, looked into budgeting correctly. Don’t be an idiot. I’m serious.

I hope you and Erik are still together. I really love him. He’s dancing in the kitchen right now and keeps refilling your wine glass when it fringes on empty.

I hope you’re not still clamoring to prove to women that you’re not a threat. It is exhausting!! You are likable. You are enough. May you one day know both of those things to be true!

I hope you figure out whether or not you want to have kids at an age that doesn’t turn that into a stressful decision! I know that’s something that’s very much a question mark for you right now!

I really hope you find the skin you’re comfortable in. You’re so close. It’s like you found the exact right dress and the color is great but you just need to get it altered a smidgen because the shoulders look kind of funny, right? But, then again… maybe you don’t need to get it altered at all. Maybe you’ll grow to love that thing you wanna change. Maybe it’ll become your favorite part.

Image via Tobruck Ave.


screen-shot-2016-11-29-at-4-21-00-pmLiz Welle is a professional feelings feeler but gets paid to do social and digital stuff for brands in Minneapolis while occasionally food styling on the side. She lives in Uptown with her boyfriend and their thirteen plants. She is doing her best.

 

 

 

  • I just turned forty-eight, which is a never-ending source of surprise to me. Here’s the letter I’d write for my younger self:

    “Don’t worry. Things will mostly be fine. And when they’re not, you’ll be able to handle it, because that’s what we humans do.”

    I mean, my younger self probably wouldn’t pay any heed to this advice, because that wasn’t her strong suit, but still.

    • Isn’t that just the weirdest part of life? We’re only able to understand and believe the advice we need when we’re kind of past the point of needing it??

      Taking “you’ll be able to handle it, because that’s what we humans do” with me. <3

  • I love this.
    I cannot wait until my 30s. I imagine it as this glorious time where everything finally fits…but I’ve never truly thought about what edges and bumps I must soften for life to run smoother when I hit the big 3-0. I think I’ll have to try this and remind my 30-year-old self what 25-year-old me hoped to accomplish—whether those ambitious were silly, justified, accomplished, or not.

    Thanks so much for sharing.

    – Grace | The Keen Kind

    • WE’LL GET THROUGH THIS, GRACE. As my boyfriend always (annoyingly, but is right) says: just keep showin’ up. It’ll figure itself out.

  • This is beautiful, LIZ! You amaze me by your clearly focused insight and finely tuned words to express yourself. There isn’t a trace of doubt in my mind that your 30s will be magical and that dress will be a perfect fit!!

  • From a woman rolling through mid-thirties myself to myself at 30 (based on your super thoughtful thoughts with some tweeking)

    When you say Yes to one thing, you say No to something else. Something must always be sacrificed, so reevaluate your priorities when life changes happen.

    You can be thrilled with one area of life and desperately disappointed in others, most people need to be fairly satisfied in each realm to be happily satisfied: Home, Love, Family, Work, Friends, Area. One or more of these, is often changing, as are your ideas about what you need in these realms!

    Love those adorable photos of your twenty-something self, but enjoy pushing the body you have now to be its best. The best photos are when you are feeling good. Remember that you are striving for healthy decades to come!

    Enjoy the kick that Monday scaries give you and seek projects that are exciting a worth the fright! Protect “me time” on the weekend and some evening (or early morning) time for reflection and relaxation.

    Practice mindfullness for yourself and those around you. Engage in new independent activities and put yourself in situations where you will meet new people: dance class, travel, new language, etc.

    Treat your student debt as “good debt” and keep pecking away at it in the background (without guilt), as you continue to invest in yourself and basic needs. Leaning on credit cards is a recipe for disaster.

    Be present for others when they are dealing with tough stuff: death, illness, divorce, birth. Ask: How can I help you? And remember that simply listening is often what is needed (not advice if you can’t identify).

    Prioritize the friendships with people who are kind and open and let the self-centered folks go. Put your gorgeous energy into continuing to meet new folks and celebrate the relationships that continue to grow. As life demands increase, time for consistent “friend time” is less available, but close friendships become a valuable tool when making serious decisions.

    Pause when you are talking to gather your thoughts. The pause feels longer to you then others. If people aren’t listening stop talking or call them out if they are distracted. Mean people and thinking about mean judgmental people is a waste of your energy. If someone doesn’t listen often, assess whether it is just them or do you need to listen more?

    Hold onto your passion and intensity! Channel it into actions that have value to you.

    Listen to the stories your parent tell and let them in on your life story. Make an effort to see them in person.

    Embrace minimalist ideas when it comes to stuff (including personal care and beauty supplies) and more importantly resist societies push to turn you into a frantic consumer.

    Learn to cook and choose to make eating healthy at home a central pillar of your budget. Buy ingredients that can be used in multiple ways. Simple and without condiments is best. Potlucks are cheap when they aren’t boozefests- set a theme or build around a dish you advertise.

    Approach each new love affair with an open heart and solid communication- seek a partner with the same attitude. (Read 5 love languages and talk about it)

    Continue to form rewarding relationships with other women that are living life in a mindful respectful way. Disregard age as a limitation on friendship.

    Spend time with children of friends and volunteer with children to better understand your own desires to have children and to gain skills in understanding childhood development.

    Seek opportunities to travel and enjoy life without children now!

    Look for real life role models that are living in their own skin, include them in your life and learn from them.

    Be open to beautiful unexpected moments and true to yourself and your needs.

    • LISA!!!!!!!!! Are you KIDDING ME!!!!!!! This is the greatest piece of collective advice I have ever read in my entire LIFE. I’ve read it aloud to several people and copied and pasted it into my phone’s notes so I can go back and read it like, uhm, EVERY DAY.

      Are you a life coach???? An angel??? Just a very good writer human?? WHICHEVER you are I am so thankful for you and you make writing and sharing THAT much better.

  • first, i really love that your mom commented so sweetly on this post. second, i think this is incredible. and hilarious that you share common anxieties and potential insecurities because i have frequent text message exchanges with my friends about your presence on instagram (“woah, she made another amazing looking meal for dinner! her haircut is amazing! i want to do a friend weekend like our girl, liz!”) and for real, my sister and i just planned a taco crawl during our upcoming april vacation to portland.

    i DO know instagram is a false image of people’s real lives, but this was a great reminder that none of us really have it all figured out, even if we seem like we do.

    thanks again. 🙂

    • TIFFANY FIRSTLY I LOVE YOU SECONDLY I LOVE YOU AND THIRDLY I COULDN’T HAVE IT LESS TOGETHER.

      I think we’re always just assuming that we’re the only ones feeling this *MUCH* anxiety or this exact *TYPE* of anxiety when in reality that COUDLN’T BE LESS TRUE, and my only writing goal is to keep reminding people that they’re not alone in those feelings AT. ALL.

      FOURTHLY I LOVE YOU.

  • I feel like I had a lot of the same insecurities when I was mid-20s. I wholeheartedly applaud you for setting future goals and already trusting yourself to look inward for advice (something I didn’t figure out until recently). That said, none of these 20-something “insecurities” mean there is anything wrong with you now. You are EXACTLY who you need to be in the present moment. It’s all part of being a human and learning as you grow. Someone who has really provided me with a ton of tools to manage my mind (especially the external validation bit) is Brooke Castillo of The Life Coach School. Highly recommend checking out her podcast. And best of luck to you as you move through into your thirties. They really are way better. 😉

  • Thank you so much for this. Really needed this and lifted my spirits. Love all your posts and hope you recognize how much of a positive source of sunshine you are!

  • Girl, I love and admire your self-awareness! I wouldn’t be surprised if that fierce, self-confident, 30-year-old version of yourself shows up sooner than you think!

  • did you actually write this for me?? seriously – i can relate to pretty much everything you listed above. i’m 31 so i feel like i’m in a weird transitional phase. i’m definitely more comfortable with myself than i’ve probably ever been, but i’m still plagued by a lot of insecurities. i do feel like i’m more motivated to focus on myself than ever before, which is a positive. we just have to keep taking it day by day 🙂