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Today I officially hit my “mid-thirties” and I’ve come to a lot of realizations in the last year or two.  I’ve probably had more epiphanies in the last several years than I had in my whole life up to that point.

Gosh, I don’t want any of you to miss out on the things that I’m telling my twenty year old self, that would just make me so sad, so go ahead and peek over my shoulder…Consider it your older self giving you a little love tap today!

Dear 20 year old me

Dear Twenty-Year Old Kristen,

Wow, you are twenty today!  Welcome to the third decade of your life!  You quite literally are at the most wonderful part of your life right now: the part where all of life is open before you, all possibilities and wonder at your fingertips!

You have opportunities to make choices for yourself, so take some risks while you can!  You will fail, but when you succeed you will succeed BIG!  Those successes will be worth taking a chance for.  I wish I had been more daring and less afraid of “what if”.  Because, if you want to know the truth, the “what ifs” almost never happen.  “What ifs” are just a game your mind plays with you to justify playing it safe.

So when you think you want to try something, JUST DO IT!  Throw your fear to the wind and allow yourself to embrace living your life to the fullest.  Someone told me recently, and it is SO true, this life we are living, it is not a dress rehearsal, you are on stage RIGHT NOW!  So whatever you want this life to be, you need to do it NOW!  Don’t wait!

I used to wish I could have a window into the future when I was twenty, to see what was in store, and the person I would become.  Be glad you don’t have that window!  There is so much to be gained from walking ahead in faith, in patient expectation, and in reliance on the goodness of God.

God will prove himself to you over and over.  You will doubt, but He will lovingly hold you close to him, even when you want to rail against him with every fiber of your being.  He will hold you and love you through it all.  And when you come out on the other side of it, you will see how deeply he loves you.

In the future you will experience un-imaginable pain.  If you knew about it now, you wouldn’t be able to walk through it with courage when it comes.  But out of that pain will come tremendous beauty, growth, and an appreciation for the gift that this life is.

Here’s the thing I want you most to remember, though, don’t spend your life looking around the corner for the bad things that will happen.  Living life waiting for the other shoe to drop is a huge waste of your time, and the biggest thief of joy.  Just know that if you stay close to God, He will give you the grace, the compassion, and the strength to keep putting one foot in front of the other, no matter what comes.

Here’s the other thing, don’t live your life to please others.  It is YOUR life, you only get one, so make the choices that will enrich your vision of the life you want to create.  You don’t have to prove yourself to anyone!

I know it seems really important to have the approval of the people around you, but I’ve learned one thing that has set my heart free:  most of the people I was so afraid of displeasing aren’t in my life now, so all of the hours I spent worrying about their opinion were a waste!  A wise person told me once that when I was afraid of a person’s opinion I should ask myself “will this person cry at my funeral?” and if the answer is no, to not let myself get too emotionally involved.  It has helped so much.

Push yourself.  Don’t just do easy things.  Do worthwhile things!  You actually grow the most from doing the things that scare you the most.  The coolest part of that, though, is that once you do the scary things, they stop being scary, and you turn into a rockstar.  Not a literal rockstar (unless what you are afraid of is public performance), but a rockstar at the things that you though you never could or would do.

Don’t take for granted that you will have a family either.  Treasure each person you have in your arms because you don’t know how long you will be together.

Treasure the children you have, because the years will pass much faster than you realize when you are hiding out in the shower trying to get 5 minutes of peace.  You will blink and they’ll be someone new.  You don’t want to miss the process, you don’t want to regret how you spent your time.

A lady I am acquainted with left to go to work this week, and got a call that her home was on fire.  On her way back home to get to her family, she was critically injured, lost the baby she was carrying, and ultimately lost all six of her remaining children.  When she got up that morning, life was normal, blissfully boring, and it changed on a dime.  Everything was gone in a moment.  Savor the moments, just savor them.

Put down the phone, put down the laptop,  stop wasting time!  Your life is worth more than just “passing time”.  I get that you need some downtime, but losing yourself into a pit of electronic entertainment is never going to make you happy.  It will only steal you from your own life and what is around you.  So close the laptop, put down the phone, and be present in your own life.  PLEASE LEARN THIS NOW!  It will be so much more difficult as you get older.

Avoid the tyranny of the “urgent”. Text messages will always ding, emails will always show up, people will always need something “right now.”

Live your life on PURPOSE!  Don’t live your life reacting to things around you.  CHOOSE what you will do with your time, because someone or something will always try to choose for you if you let it, and that will almost NEVER leave you with the life or the day that you woke up wanting.

Your life is beautiful!  It is laying before you bright and full of possibilities!  Keep looking at it that way, no matter how hard the days may get because every morning that you wake up you have anther chance to do something wonderful.

Above it all, live a life where you will look back and say “I have no regrets.”  I have some now, and I promise you, it is better to have tried something and failed than to feel that you had played it too safe and can’t get that time (or opportunity) back.

Be daring.  Be adventurous.  Be passionate.  Love selflessly.  Leave it all on the table.  

Enjoy the years, because they go by fast!  

Don’t tell yourself you will be happy when you get married, have a baby, buy a house, get a better job, or whatever the next thing is!  If you don’t choose happiness where you are, it won’t matter where you are going….when you get there, you still won’t be happy.

Life isn’t a set of milestones to be achieved.  Life is a journey with twists and turns, highs and lows, and happiness that you choose throughout it all.

Oh, and I know you don’t see it now, so I’ll tell you myself….you are beautiful, you are valuable, you can do great things, you are likable, you have something valuable to offer.  Every day you have is a beautiful gift.

Don’t wait to unwrap it.

Love,

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Tell me, if you could go back in time and talk to yourself at twenty, what would you say?

Share with me in the comments!

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