I have always loved stories about time-travel. From Back to the Future to Ray Bradbury stories, there’s something about time-travel stories that makes us ask questions. What would you see? Where would you go? Who would you meet? And the biggest one…what would you change?
Decade birthdays are kind of a big deal. When I think about the fact that I’m turning 30 I can’t help but be a little envious of Marty McFly and his Delorean. If I had one, I would go back to 2003 and give myself the following letter:
You are 20 today. That seems old to you and that’s okay, because it’s the oldest you’ve ever been. You’ve just left behind the largest portion of your life and you’re surprised to find yourself in yet another ‘middle school’ phase. Old enough to be taken seriously on some level but too young to have a clue what you’re doing.
There are some things you should know. Your 30-year-old self needs you to pay attention, write this stuff down, and look at it often.
1. Stop being so scared. You’re scared of being embarrassed, you’re scared of what people think of you, and you’re just scared in general. Your 30-year-old self is not scared anymore. Know that somewhere in the next ten years there will come a moment where you realize there’s nothing to be scared of at all. Get to that point soon, because life is a lot more fun this way.
2. For heaven’s sake, start RUNNING.
3. You will have your heart broken a few times in the next ten years. It’s not such a bad thing. It will hurt really badly, but things will turn out okay. You will learn that you are strong. You will learn that you are capable of making it on your own. People you thought you couldn’t live without will slip out of your life so quickly that they’ll be gone before you have time to realize what’s happened. And you will survive it. Speaking of which…
4. You are not going to get married in the next ten years. (Sorry to disappoint you!) So LIVE the adventure you are on with full awareness and passion and recklessness! Don’t wait for a man to create an adventure for you. Do what is in your heart to do. I promise you, it is thrilling. And I promise you, you will lack no happiness for it.
5. Get some piano and voice lessons now. You’re gonna need them. Learn to play guitar. And practice!
6. When people tell you how great you are, remember that they don’t see the stupid stuff you do. They only see one side of you. Keep that in perspective. If you really want to know how great you are, ask your little sister. That’ll pull you back to earth.
7. Quit your classes. I know it’s the middle of the semester, but get real, you’re not doing so hot anyway and you hate it. Mom and Dad will get over it. Except the art history classes, finish those out. They’ll come in handy someday.
8. Seriously, please start running.
9. The Padgetts are still your best friends when you are 30.
10. Don’t spend all your money. Open a savings account for goodness sakes! Even putting in $20 a week would really help me out! Put together a budget. Live by it.
11. Spend more time with Mom. Learn how to make the things she makes you that you love. Ask her to start keeping a journal. Let her hug you as tight as she wants, as often as she wants. Start a standing date with her every single week. Breakfast, lunch, whatever it is.
12. You have way more to learn than you have to teach. The people around you that are older know stuff that you need to know. Shut up and listen. Everyone you meet has something to teach you.
13. You are good at some things. You are bad at some things. I don’t want to tell you the things you’re good at because I don’t want to spoil some surprises, but here are some things you are bad at and can stop trying: acting (in any form or context), hosting get-togethers, any type of craft that is not edible, and cutting/coloring your own hair. Also, all sports. (No changes there.)
14. Lighten. Up.
15. Stop worrying about what God’s plan is for you. He’s not keeping it a secret. He just wants you to make some decisions. Just walk through the doors that open and don’t pound on the doors that close. Don’t worry about finding THE thing you’re supposed to do or trying to get ahead or prove yourself. It will unfold beautifully. Serve those around you and keep a humble and obedient heart.
16. Write in a journal a few times a week. Keep track of your life. There’s so much you’ll forget.
17. STOP tanning. Don’t ever tan again. Don’t lay out, don’t go to the tanning bed. Wear sunscreen.
18. Like what you like. I know that some of the music you listen to, you don’t actually like, but you want to like it because it’s cool to like that music. Same with movies. Just like what you like and don’t let people make you feel stupid about it. Chances are they have secret likes too, so just own it.
19. Learn some French.
20. Your life will be totally different at 30. You will believe some different things than you believe now. You won’t believe some of the things you believe now. Show more grace to people because you are gonna need LOTS of grace shown to you over the next decade!
That’s it, you’re on your own. Because I remember being 20, I know that this letter will probably wind up smushed in the back of a drawer or accidentally thrown out. Know that the next 10 years will hold a little anxiety, a lot of excitement, and lots of things that will prepare you for stuff coming down the road. Live in the moment but plan for the future.
And seriously. The running thing. Please?