I’m on vacation this week visiting my family in sunny Kelowna, BC. I’m trying to stay as “unplugged” as possible so I am really glad that Kate of Suburban Sweetheart volunteered to write the next instalment of Things I Would Tell My 20-Year Old Self.
Suburban Sweetheart was one of the first blogs I really connected with when I started blogging. Kate has killer writing chops and is by far one of my favourite bloggers & writers, period. From her hilarious documentation of daily life, to her heartfelt posts about her loved ones, Kate is the only Blogger that has managed to make me laugh so hard I snorted AND cry, all within a couple posts. I’ve heard her blog described as “Seinfeld-esque” which is partially true – if you know, Jerry Seinfeld was female, had a social conscious and was actually someone you wanted to be friends with. Kate is smart, witty & stands up for what she believes in. This is all to say that I think she’s great and I am really honoured to have her guest blogging for me! I love her advice to her younger self and I hope you do too.
Dear 20-Year-Old Kate,
Man, it’s going to be a rough year for you. Like, “rough” doesn’t actually cover it. You thought last year was rough because during your sophomore year of college, life started to get a little nutty: You joined a sorority. Your roommate-slash-former best friend moved out. Your boyfriend of a year dumped you because he said you were “too depressing” (ouch). You were almost arrested for smoking pot with your RA, of all people. You drank a lot, slept around a lot, and cried a lot – sometimes all at the same time.
Kate, everything that happened last year was just building up to this one. Your twentieth year should be exciting, right? You should be full of “I’m not a teenager anymore!” happiness and excitement. But if you thought last year was bad, this year is going to grab you by the hair and smash your face against the ground like a bitch in a bar-fight. You’re going to wonder whether you can make it through; you’re going to doubt that there is a light at the end of the proverbial tunnel that is your life. You’re going to think about killing yourself, but your ex-boyfriend is going to do it to himself first, and then you’re going to go bat-shit crazy for awhile. You will transfer colleges, move in with your mom, start dating someone new. You will basically lose yourself – not just this year, but for another year or two afterward, as well.
If I could give you a few pieces of retroactive advice, my dear young self, they’d be:
- Life is better when you’re alive. This sounds like a given, but you don’t really feel this way right now, andI’m worried about you. Don’t you dare squander this opportunity to live your life.
- Don’t date down. Years from now, you will recognize that in your grief, you started dating someone who was all kinds of wrong for you. A nice guy, sure, but do you really want to be dating someone with no education and zero ambition? Someone who laughs like a donkey with a sinus infection and dances like he’s being electrocuted? Take note, 20-Year-Old Kate. Bad choice.
- Your sadness does not define you. At this point, you’ve started to believe that unless you’re hideously unhappy, you are not being your true self, like you’re some magnet for disaster. You’re a better writer when you’re lost, it’s true, but you’re also miserable, so it’s not actually a great trade-off. Let yourself get better, Kate. Let yourself be happy. The writing will survive. Let yourself survive.
- Medication is not embarrassing. You’re going to cry like a baby when your doctor prescribes you Prozac – but then it’s going to start working, and you’ll never be embarrassed of it again. You wouldn’t think twice about taking medicine to control diabetes or high blood pressure, would you? Neither should you feel any shame about your depression. Let modern science work some miracles on you.
- Just say no to McGriddles. Commuting to college from your mom’s house for an 8:00am class every day makes stopping for fast food breakfast reaaaaally tempting. But, um, I’m going to hate you for this one later because those pancake sandwiches sure have done a number on my – er, our – once enviable figure. Stop eating your feelings.
Let’s be honest, 20-year-old Kate: I can’t change things for you, no matter how much I’d like to try. The truth is that you’re in a bad spot right now, and you’re going to be for a couple more years. It’s going to be a long, hard road back to the top, but please believe me when I say that you will get there. And once you do? Man, you’re gonna have some stories to tell.
Lots of love,
What advice would you give to your younger self?