You live and die by the contents of your little mail cubby, and I'm delighted to offer a few minutes of distraction whilst you endure another mandatory chapel. I know that you love nothing more than a good juicy letter, and boy will this one be a corker.
It's funny, writing to you now, because there is so little I want to tell you to avoid. You have a pretty solid head on your shoulders, and you seem instinctively to make some smart choices - ones that keep your future wide open.
But this word - instinctively - it's something I really have to talk about with you. You need to start paying attention to your gut. (And no, not that completely-invisible-to-everyone-except-you-belly-pooch. Stop with that - its time will come.)
You come from a long line of strong, smart women. At 21, you fancy yourself a strong, smart woman. You're old enough to know you don't know everything, but you're still pretty confident in what you do know. So let me just tell you this right now: life is not so much about what you know in your head. Life - and living - is very much more about what you know in your gut.
You gotta start listening. 'Cause I'll tell you - right now you're getting into a relationship that you know, you KNOW isn't going to work for you. One of your very closest friends has given you the best warning he knows how - "be careful, Kir. I'm just saying... be careful." Even as those words sound a hollow echo in your heart - your heart that knows the words to be true - blithely, confidently you'll persist in pursuing this one to the ends of the earth. All I can say, because you won't be able to even wrap your head around the details of how badly you will get hurt, is that in your gut, right now, you know the right answer. It is all wrong for you.
In a few years, as the wounds from this heal into angry scars, your instincts will be refined. You will know that you should have listened to yourself. And still you will ignore your intuition - time and time again.
I am writing to you to say trust yourself. Listen to yourself. You know the answers - the intuition engraved deep in your DNA is yours to tap into, and if you are able to somehow start listening earlier - not waiting until your mid-30s to start trusting this sense, you will save yourself repeated disappointment, hurt, and frustration.
Intuition will guide you in early marriage, will guide you in career choices, will guide you in parenthood. Listen - train yourself to be still and to listen. Not everyone is born to this gift, but you are. You are.
Finally: I say with some authority that you are now as hot as you will ever be. Ditch the grunge threads immediately and buy yourself something cute. You are not now nor will ever be everyone's cup of tea, but if you're going to work the whole tall blonde thing, now's the time.
Signed with so very much love (and jealousy of your 21 year old thighs)
Kirsten, Age 37
This post was written for Friday's Red Writing Hood, the prompt being "write a serious letter to your younger self." Luckily for me and my younger self, letter writing is something I love with all my heart.