It’s been a while since I posted another installment of the Things I’d Tell my 20-Year Old Self Series, so I thought what better way to get back into the groove than with a post from one of my favorite people on the Internet? Along with writing one of my favorite blogs, Akirah Robinson is a break-up coach and brave hearts enthusiast. What does that mean? Having been in an abusive relationship for 4 years, Akirah is now passionate about self-love and helping other women pursue healthy relationships. She believes we all have brave hearts.
I really could have used Akirah’s words and wisdom when I was going through my own abusive relationship when I was in my early 20’s, so it seemed fitting that she write the next Things I Would Tell My 20-Year Old Self post. Also, as you can see from the photo below she’s just all around lovely 🙂
(As I write this piece, I keep experiencing slight heart palpitations. I can’t stop thinking about the fact that I was 20 years old almost ten years ago. Hopefully I’ll be able to get through this.)
When I remember what it felt like to be 20, I can’t help but smile. Life was so simple back then and yet, I was so miserable. I had no real reason to be miserable, but I was. I mean, at that point I hadn’t yet kissed a boy or gone out on many dates. I couldn’t stop thinking about the fifteen pounds I “needed” to lose. It seemed like life would never work out for me.
So I smile. Because that discontent has morphed into extreme gratitude for the life I’m creating right now. I’ve come a long way, baby. Knowing what I know now, here’s what I’d tell 20-year old Akirah:
Yes. One day, you WILL kiss a boy. So calm down! It’s going to happen. In about one year, in fact. And while you’ll feel a little silly for being such a late bloomer, one day you’ll be glad boys didn’t distract you too much during high school and college. (In a few years when a show called “16 and Pregnant” debuts on MTV, you’ll be really glad.)
Take some time to learn the warning signs of partner abuse. Because honestly, you don’t really know them. And partner abuse is so much more than “my boyfriend hits me.” You’ll experience some crappy things during your first serious relationship and throughout much of it, you’ll be in denial about what’s really going on. Don’t fret though; this experience will teach you more than anything else has in your whole life. Even so, learn the warning signs. Then, tell your friends to learn them too.
Stop being a bitch about your love for Jesus. Seriously. People avoid religious fanatics for a reason, my friend. One day, you’re going to have to accept that people make mistakes. Let them. Then love them. And listen! Because no amount of preaching is going to convince your friends to live the life you think they should live. So just stop.
Your marriage isn’t going to save you. Yep, 20-year old Akirah. You get married someday. To a wonderful man, I might add. But this relationship will not save you, even though in the back of your mind, you kind of hope it will. In fact, in many ways it will stress you out. When you realize all those rainbows and butterflies were only a part of the story, you will struggle. So try really hard to not cling tightly to your expectations of marriage. Instead, work on yourself. Because your self-worth is not dependent upon your relationship status. And other people can’t save you.
Life works best when you let God be God and you focus on being Akirah. Around this time in your life, you’re starting to become a control freak. And despite your good intentions, your desire to control everything will develop into Generalized Anxiety Disorder. Don’t worry though. (Seriously don’t, Worrywart.) You’ll learn ways to manage it, thanks to your awesome support network and therapist. It won’t be easy, but once you start letting God be God and stop resisting uncertainty, it will get easier. I promise.
If it’s not too late, switch your major to social work. Doing this will save you a crap ton of money when you go to grad school. (Yes, 20-year-old Akirah, you go to grad school. And you graduate too!) There’s probably some good, existential reason why you struggle a bit to realize your calling, but I don’t care. Student loan payments are the pits, so change that major!
Your life was meant to be lived on your terms. One day you’ll realize how silly it is to make choices based on what other people will think of you. When you do, it’ll feel like a giant weight has been lifted off your shoulders. Given your tendency to add pressure to yourself, this will be a life-changing realization. Make the most of it.
More than anything, though, I’d tell 20-year-old Akirah to love herself. It kind of makes me sad that she didn’t. But instead of bumming myself out about it, I think I’ll just make up for lost time. I’m learning how to love the crap out of myself now and it feels wonderful. I used to be miserable, but I’m not anymore.
What a difference nine years make.
What would you tell your 20-year old (or younger) self?