Sunday, June 27, 2010

Going the Distance

On NPR’s “All Things Considered” yesterday, Michele Norris interviewed a blogger in her 20s who had asked older fellow-blogging women to write letters to their 20-year-old selves. Cassie Boorn wanted advice, wisdom and guidance from women who had emerged from their 20s.

I talk to my present self a lot, but talking to my younger self was a great way to take stock, to see what I would do differently — or not. It felt both nurturing and empowering, and some of it surprised me.

Dear 20-year-old Sheri,

I know you’re wavering between that nice guy you work with at summer camp and the cool guy who can dance and tell funny stories — the one you’re dating at college. Why do you think you have to choose? They both have something to offer that you can learn from and enjoy. Two years from now, when you graduate from college and think you should marry one of them, don’t. Be patient.

Swim more laps. Don’t wait until you’re in your 30s to swim farther. Learn to go the distance.

It’s OK to teach commas and "A Raisin in the Sun" to blonde-haired eighth graders for a couple of years. Just know that when you discover newspapers and the adrenaline rush of making deadline for a page-1 story, life will be more fun.

Stop thinking your finances will take care of themselves. Learn about investing.

Know that you will do some chancy stuff as a divorced woman in your 20s (and in your 30s). Rest assured that none of it will do you lasting harm. You’ll also get to sail to Key West, canoe the Boundary Waters, bike in the Netherlands.

Wear that bikini that shows off your flat stomach as often as you want.

It’s OK to throw off the religious dogma you were force-fed. But don’t shut down the spiritual you. Keep asking questions. Don’t get intimidated by people who say they have all the answers. They don't.

Get a dog, or at least make friends with some. Don’t get another cat after your soon-to-be-ex drowns those kittens.

Be patient. The man you will marry for keeps is only three years old.

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