On the eve of my 10th birthday, my Dad came into my room and said, ‘Tomorrow is a big day, it’s a day you turn double digits, and where your age will be for the rest of your birthdays. Try to remember it’.
I don’t. I have no idea what I did for my 10th birthday (probably Discovery Zone as in the picture) but I remember that moment. And I remember it very well.
That’s typically true with most of my birthdays, I remember the general weekend or activity but not necessarily the specific day. But for the last year of my 20’s, it’s different, because I remember this year and the longevity of change. So rather than remembering the exact day I turned 30, or just the general weekend that I celebrated with family and friends, I know I’ll remember this last year as being one that propelled my life into a direction I have always wanted to go, and now finally allowed myself to.
You know those articles that go around about people in their 30’s or 40’s giving advice to their 20-something year old self? Well I have one right here. But there is one major difference – I wouldn’t say anything.
I mean I am stubborn but that is not the reason, I am not punishing my younger self for doing idiotic things that I don’t need to talk about like wearing a jersey with my name on it sophomore year of college and then smoking weed out in the open on 4-20 in Boulder. I don’t need to talk about the time I booked an international flight on the wrong day so when all my friends left I had to sit at the airport. And I definitely don’t need to talk about the ridiculous amount of drunken text messages I’ve embarrassingly sent to god knows who, because let’s be honest, that is still going to happen.
The reason I am not going to give my younger self any advice in this Back to the Future scenario is because I am exactly where I want to be.
What my 20’s were was a long learning experience. Which is what they should be. It’s funny because the decade from 10 years old to 20 years old it seems as though all you really want to do is fit in. Middle school and high school are hard enough going through all these awkward life changes so the last thing most people crave is difference. But then something happens, you grow up a little, you maybe go to college, and you maybe get a chance to really reinvent who you are. You get to be the real you and the people who become your friends, like you for that person, and that builds a certain confidence and self-esteem. So, while I didn’t change from night and day, I did find comfort in my own skin, I wasn’t as sensitive anymore because I was happy being who I was, and if someone didn’t like it, which plenty of people probably didn’t, then that was okay with me.
I did a lot in my 20’s. I traveled, explored, took chances, moved cities, and slowly began carving a trail unbeknownst where it would lead. Along the way I fell in love a couple times, I got my heart broken several more, but I picked up the pieces which propelled me forward in my own path. Again, like the years of college, when you get broken you repair yourself and get to choose new and different pieces. Like in a video game you boost this or that, lower this and that and hope you’re happier when the light begins to hit the trail once more. I haven’t been in a relationship in years, I did have a cat for a while, but anyways back to my ramblings… what I am saying is that while many of my friends are finding their own happiness in wives or husbands, houses, kids, starting their own family, I am doing the best to find my own with what I have… myself, and knowing what make me happy and what doesn’t. And knowing it now, not when it’s too early, or too late. But right now.
I quit my job at 29 years old. I was there for 4 years. I had a weekly paycheck, insurance, friends, a Disney season pass… it sounded nice on paper. But I wasn’t happy. Not at the end. Along my journey of my 20’s I went to film school, I wrote a couple screenplays, I came up with Locals Only (the food and travel thing) but I was missing something… I had a dream as a kid and I knew by now it wasn’t going anywhere unless I gave it a chance.
It was there the whole time but I didn’t want to let it out because I knew the chances of me failing were incredibly high. I didn’t want to be embarrassed. I didn’t want to be a stereotype. I didn’t want to be judged. But what overpowered all those fears was the fear of waking up one day and being unhappy, of regretting a chance I didn’t take. So I untied the bow lines and set sail into this unchartered territory of life. My trail (or whatever it is that you follow in a boat since metaphorically we are now in a boat, somehow, sorry) opened up and there I was, enrolling in classes, making friends, training, learning that I was pretty bad and I had so much work to do to even be just a little better. I learned that all the experiences I had in my 20’s were flooding back with memories and emotions – relationships between words on the page and the memories in my mind. I was able to bridge some of them and find their connection, allowing me to fully relate to things I was saying in a performance. Or at least trying to. Ultimately I’ve realized that much of my 20’s were lessons, ones I am truly grateful for and wouldn’t want to change. I’m happy where I am, and you can’t really ask for much more than that.
So there it is… my letter to my 20 year old self is basically a letter to my 30 year old self. Essentially saying do what’s in your heart. Because it already knows the direction to lead you. And I guess I could add a couple things… for safety. Be nice. Be a good person. Take care of yourself mentally and physically. Know it’s okay to ask for help. Be honest. Take chances and risks. Hold on to the good, let go of the bad, no matter how hard it is. Surround yourself with good people who make you happy. Be unique. Be kind. Listen, and put your phone down when doing so. Appreciate life, it can be a beautiful thing.
And lastly, go after your dream. No matter how old you are, or how scared you are, because no amount of fear should ever keep you from being happy… just maybe get use to eating Subway sandwiches 4 times a week because you can’t afford anything else.