First of all, can we just stop and reflect on the fact that I HAVE a 23 year old?
I still feel as young as I did when I had you, but the years have moved along and you are now one year older than I was when you were born. You were but a sparkle in my mind so long ago. I knew you would arrive sooner or later, but when you did it was in a big way. With your full head of ebony hair, and huge brown eyes we lost our hearts to you.
You still have the fire you always had. You are a survivor, a debater, a thinker, an advocate for change and justice, and full of compassion. I’ve decided this year to give you some words of advice as your turn 23 – words I wish I had heard.
1) Stop thinking you’re getting old. After the hotly anticipated age of 21, it may seem as if it’s all downhill from here. Stop it. Right now. As women, we are powerful. Be thankful for the body and strength you have now. Own it. Live it. Take care of it. If someone had told me to appreciate myself at 23 I would have laughed and said I wish I looked like I did when I was 16. We need to stop always wishing for what we WERE and embrace what we are NOW and love ourselves for where we’re at in life.
2) Read more. Find books that feed your soul and inhale them. Scour the internet for articles that put things in focus. Take ideas in. Let bad ideas out. Reading takes you to another world that sometimes we must flee to. A favorite quote on books is this, “Stock your mind – it is your house of treasures and no one in the world can interfere with it.” ~Frank McCourt
3) Learn to let go of anger. Be angry, rage, and let it flee. I spent too many years hanging on to things I’ve been hurt by. I’ve learned over the years that it’s not worth it. It only serves to give us stress and worry. People have hurt you. You have been trampled, attacked with words, and mistreated so the hurt and anger still live. It’s time to let it go and just breathe in the cool air of forgiveness and life. You are the strongest girl I know. You walked through STORMS and have come out better – sharpened by steel. Anger has become our enemy. Embrace peace. #PLUR
4 4) Never take something at face value. Be inquisitive and learn about different ways of thinking and living. Just because you’ve grown up a certain way doesn’t mean that it’s right for YOU. Be wary of people that tell you “that’s the way things are” because they are wrong. We forge our own path. Don’t conform. Swim against the current!
5) Stop worrying what people think of you. It took me turning 40 to stop caring what people think. I worried about every little thing, action, and step I took and what people might think of it. I was always TOLD “what will people think” instead of “who cares what people think” and it took me way too long to live differently. We are responsible for our own actions, yes, but not for how others think of them. Live on the edge and be YOURSELF because all the action is out on the edge anyway. Who wants to live in the middle?
6) Find someone who loves you. Really loves you for you. I pray for your future husband and if I’ve already met him then hey – we love you, Tyler! Life is short, and it’s especially too short to go through life being with someone that bores you to death. Find someone that makes you laugh – EVERYDAY. Find someone who you can fight FIERCELY with yet know that no one is going anywhere. Never let anyone tell you fighting isn’t good for a relationship - just remember to forgive freely. Find someone that doesn’t make you change who you are to please them. Lastly, find someone who can still make your heart go thump after 25 years together – because it’s amazing.
You are my fierce, willful, beautiful, wonderful, and amazing daughter. You are what I wish I had the guts to be in my youth. I am that way now. I feel better, stronger, and more alive in my 40’s than I did at ANY age. Stay true to your heart and your path will emerge. Never forget Jesus walks beside you and has your back. Travel, go to Ibiza, backpack through Europe, and live with zest. We only get one shot at this life. Don’t live to regret what you never did. You’ve been through too much and come too far to become this girl. Embrace YOU.
I love you,