My friend Meg recently embarked on a charming project. She’s enlisted her community to create postcards to honor her sister. All that the postcards need include is words of wisdom you would give to yourself at age 19.
What words of wisdom would I give to myself at age 19? In order to do this, I have to turn back the clock six years and remember myself as a freshman in college. I had long hair that I wore mostly in a low ponytail. I wore dresses sometimes, when I thought I should. I had my sights set on focusing on the craft of acting for the next four years, and settling for nothing less than a B.F.A., which I was convinced meant something profound. I had never dated a woman before and was probably sure I never would. I was ready to swim out to the desert, far, far away from my hurricane of a senior year.
In many ways, I’m not so different from that girl who stepped full force into her freshman year of college, but: I wear more collared shirts and my hair is cropped short. I haven’t worn a dress in two years and probably won’t again until I’m a bridesmaid at one of my best friends’ weddings. I’ve focused my path on writing plays and dated an assortment of great women. I live in Brooklyn, New York, and now I tend to swim toward the hard topics instead of away from then.
The best part is I don’t think I was being any less myself at 19 than I am now. I was just living and trying and learning, the same way I am today. Things change, but it doesn’t have to be a bad thing.
If I could offer myself one piece of advice at age 19, I would simply say exactly what I said on the back of this postcard: be good to yourself because you are valuable. And that being good to you might not be in line with what other people want or hope or dream for you, but what do you want or hope or dream for you? You’ve got your whole roaring twenties ahead of you to figure things out—and have a good time along the way!
You may feel young and angry at the world for not paying attention, but the important people are paying attention.
And why not, every once in a while, let yourself be the most important person.