Dear Young(er) Courtney,
It’s me, I mean . . . you . . . older (and wiser??) Courtney. Here we are – we’ve just said goodbye to 2016. Another year has come and gone, and what a year it was! Another of life’s chapters, closed, and a new chapter is now beginning. I figured I’d touch base with you, younger self, to let you know that at the ripe, old age of 32 (ha!), life is good. Girl, you are BLESSED!
But I’d like to have some words with you, younger Courtney. Perhaps a sprinkling of wisdom and encouragement to help you through your journey. I know there have been some rough patches, many wonderful moments and a few dark trenches. Guess what? You survive! Better yet, you’re THRIVING.
Your 30’s, so far, have been smooth-sailing compared to your late teens and 20’s. Younger self, you will grow more than you can imagine. You think you know it all now?? Hardly! Of course I still don’t know it all, but I mean, you REALLY ain’t seen nothin’ yet – there’s so much to discover!
Want to learn a few things that I wish I had known back when I was your age? Allow me to enlighten you, younger me.
DON’T BE IN SUCH A HURRY TO GROW UP.
It’s a trap! I mean it. You hear this from just about everyone, but you always tune them out. What do they know, anyway?? But, younger self, adulting is for the birds! I know you’re anxious to move far away from home, to really become the independent woman you dream of being, to dive in and take life by the horns and show everyone what you’re made of. But calm your tits! You’re only young once. (Geez, I sound so old using all these cliches, but you don’t know the half of how true they really are.)
Sure, attending a prominent, out-of-state university will be LOADS of fun, you’ll develop plenty of life-long friendships and hey, it looks great on a resume . . . but do you have any idea how expensive 4 years of out-of-state tuition is?? Of course you don’t! You don’t care . . . but you should. (By the way, you’ll graduate during a recession and will be stuck waiting tables for a couple of years before actually landing a great career.) Bills, girlfriend. Adulting = LOTS of BILLS. Throw in a couple of kids (yes . . . a couple – as in more than 1) and a husband with expensive hobbies, and you’ll have expenses up to your ears! Not only will you be working your ass off to provide for your family, you’ll also have a house to maintain, obligations to fulfill, and good luck trying to fit in some down-time or a social life.
Do I regret attending LSU? Hell no!! But I DO regret blindly rushing into it without a plan, with total disregard to future financial obligations and a false idea that the job of my dreams would magically fall into my lap after walking across that stage and accepting my diploma. So slow down, and take your time. Come up with a plan of action. Enjoy the ride. And enjoy your youth!
LOVE YOURSELF THE WAY YOU ARE NOW.
You spend an awful amount of time scrutinizing yourself in the mirror. Too pale. When did my arms start jiggling like that? Oh god, I’m getting a double chin. Are those wrinkles?? And don’t get me started on my thigh dimples.
Umm, stop it. CHILL . . . OUT!
I now look back at old photos when I thought I was “too fat”. (Insert eye roll) I’m sorry, but when is a size 2 ever considered fat?? You’re in for a rude awakening, younger Courtney! Try maintaining a size 2 figure after birthing two kids and working a full-time desk job. You’ll be wishing you still looked like you did in those pictures!
Seriously though– instead of breaking yourself down, crash dieting and trying to look more like those unrealistically Photoshopped models in magazines that society pressures young women to become, just try to be happy in your own skin. Incorporate a healthier lifestyle, a fitness regimen, and make them a part of your everyday life – not just when your pants are starting to fit a bit tighter. Easier said than done, though, right? Heck, since I’m being honest, I still have days where I catch myself picking out my flaws. But for now, get your butt to the gym regularly, eat well, take better care of your skin and lay off the cheeseburgers during your pregnancies, and you’ll be fine, alright? We’re a work in progress, you and I. Just be the best version of yourself, and love yourself for it. Plus, those that matter most in life will love you no matter what!
LEARN TO FORGIVE.
This one’s tough for you, don’tcha think? I’ve given myself more pep talks about forgiveness over the past decade than you can imagine. I know, younger self, that when someone betrays you, they’re written off immediately . . . vanishing from existence completely. You can sure hold a grudge like no other – a firm believer in, “Fool me once, shame on you; there won’t be a fool me twice.”
Younger me, once you truly understand forgiveness and allow yourself to let go of those grudges, you’ll have a whole new outlook on life! Grudges are poisonous, heavy weights that turn you into a cold and bitter bitch. LET THEM GO. Don’t allow yourself to walk around with someone or something occupying a spot in your head, heart or under your skin. Nothing and no one should be given the power to interfere with your ability to love, laugh and enjoy life.
To be honest, younger self, I’m still not on board with the whole, “Forgive and forget,” thing. After all these years, I’ve learned to how to forgive and move on with my life, but I could never, ever, forget the times I’ve been wronged. Alan (he’s your husband in the future) always teases me for having a file cabinet as a brain. If I’m ever angry or upset about something or someone, sure I get over it move forward, but I tend to lock it away, neatly filed in a drawer inside my head . . . only to dust off and use as reference and ammunition in future similar situations. And trust me, having a locked cabinet to store things in is MUCH better than carrying them all on your shoulders at the same time.
LEARN TO LET GO.
Let’s go ahead and get this out of the way because this one kinda stings: your best friends now won’t be your best friends in the future, and blood is not always thicker than water. Try not to dwell on this. You’re going to get hurt. You’ll have your heart broken. You will try to hold onto the people you care so deeply for. Don’t become angry or resentful. People change. Priorities and interests change. YOU will change. In fact, you’ll end up breaking hearts and hurting loved ones as you discover your true self. There will be plenty of forks in the road, and we all will choose different paths – such is life.
For your own health and well-being, LET GO of what others EXPECT you to be, and concentrate your energy on what YOU want to be. LET GO of the negative in your life and focus on all of the positive. As I said at the beginning, you are BLESSED, younger Courtney! Oh so blessed! Don’t let those around you dim your light, suppress your passions, and hold you back from obtaining your goals. Girl, DO YOU and BE YOU. Just remember – be humble and kind along the way!
APPRECIATE TIME WITH YOUR PARENTS.
Bottom line: they love you. That’s a given, right? Of course you know that, younger self. Here’s a thought – quit being a brat to them. Believe it or not, their purpose in life is NOT to make you miserable and “control” you. Younger self, they want to protect you. (You’ll really understand this when you meet your daughters.) Don’t brush them off, disrespect them, and for the love of all things mighty, don’t be embarrassed of them. You’ll learn over time that they will ALWAYS have your best interest in mind and will push you only because they can see your potential when you, yourself, can’t. You owe a LOT to those two.
So don’t be so quick to lose patience and get angry, and don’t get annoyed when they ask how to do things like change their email password or if they simply call to say hi. You and they are not getting any younger, so cherish every moment and every memory. Oh, and just a forewarning, be prepared for a bumpy few years when it comes to their health and wellness. Be there for them, as they’ve been there for you.
Final food for thought – because of you, younger self, I’ve become stronger than I ever thought possible. I love unconditionally and am blessed with a beautiful family and an amazing group of people that accept me and love me for ME. My heart is full. I am fulfilled.
So that’s all my 32-year old self has to share . . . the rest you will figure out as you go.
Oh, and by the way – Happy New Year!
Older Courtney ♥