Being young is such an odd mix of self-confidence and insecurity. On the one hand, you feel like there’s nothing in the world that you can’t accomplish. One day, you’re sure you’ll be a famous actress when you graduate. The next, you’ll be a lawyer. The day after that, you’ll be an international spy. Yet at the same time, you constantly worry about how many friends you have and what others think of you.
At thirty-five, I’m here to tell you that your life will be full of more twists and turns than you can possibly imagine. There are times you’ll be so happy that your heart can barely contain it. And there are times you’ll feel so lost and hurt that you’re not sure you can go on. The important thing, though, is that you will go on. And every time you fight through a challenge that seems insurmountable, the happiness you’ll gain afterwards will be greater than any happiness you’ve felt before.
You’ll take your cue from strong women everywhere. From the real women that have made a difference in the world: Nellie McClung, Anne Frank and Rosa Parks. From characters in your favourite books: irrepressible Lyra Belacqua of The Golden Compass and Katy Scarlett O’Hara of Gone with the Wind. And even from fictional women on Netflix like young Queen Elizabeth II in The Crown and fear-conquering Eleven in Stranger Things. Your actions might not be changing the world the way theirs do and did, but emulating them will change YOUR world, and that’s really what’s most important.
Most of all, you’ll come to two very important realizations. First, that your life gives value to the world, even if you’re not the rich and famous superstar that you once dreamed of being. And second, that there are only a small handful of people whose opinions of you actually matter. And luckily, those people, your children, your husband, your family, are people that will always love you, even if you do disappoint them at times.
Knowing all this won’t necessarily make your coming years any easier. There will still be times when you don’t want to keep going, when giving up seems like the only option you have. But when you do fight through, you’ll be taking a step closer to a life that is full of more joy, more potential and more freedom than you can possibly imagine. Yes, believe it or not, as much freedom as you have right now, you’ll have even more as a mature, responsible adult.
So, relax and enjoy the adventures of youth for now. But always remember that when you get here, the mistakes that seemed huge at the time are nothing to you now. The sorrows that felt as if they were crushing your soul won’t give you more than a twinge when you remember them. And the joy you have in your accomplishments, whether they be big ones or small, will always be what’s in the forefront of your mind. You can do it, hon. I’ll meet you at thirty-five.