Dear 22-year-old Bee,
I am proud of you. I am proud of you for walking away from a 9-month marriage. I’m always proud of you for getting over your worries of what others are going to think and doing what you, in your gut, know is right. (Some of the most incredible things you do are things like this.) I know it’s still hard to figure out what’s really your gut and what’s other voices sitting on your shoulders, but when it’s your gut, you feel it. Pay attention to that. Learn that feeling. When it’s your gut, you can proudly fight for it, defend it, and pronounce it loudly and publicly. You’ve worked hard. You’ve worked very hard. And realizing that you didn’t respect yourself anymore, and then realizing that was the sign that it was over—well, those are smart, commendable, brave things. This is going to be one of the most valuable things about you—your ability to accept responsibility for mistakes and to make things right.
I want you to remember that just because you can’t explain your choices doesn’t mean they’re bad choices. First off, people who are interrogating you regarding your choices are out of line. It’s your life, chickpea. You are the person you have to live with. Do you get that? No one else’s opinions matter because those aren’t the people whose consciences you lie with on your pillow at night. It’s really no one’s business why you want to do anything, and truly good people—the only people worth your time—will support your decisions simply because you’re doing what feels right for you. You don’t really know right now why you want a Ph.D. You just do. That’s fine. Go for it. Oh, and that gut feeling you have about teaching developmental writers at a community college? Hold on to that one, too. Yeah – it doesn’t seem to make sense with the Ph.D. business, but just go with it. You have found your joy. Don’t let it go.
Now, let’s talk about boys. I know that inside, you’re still an awkward, gawky, socially inept little Urkel of a girl. And now, with the divorce, you somehow feel like damaged goods—like some poor sap would be doing you a favor if he graced you with this company, even just physical company, for a bit. That, sweet cheeks, is complete BULLSHIT. I don’t want to ruin the adventure or all the learning experiences for you. Those make you who I end up being, which is a pretty kick-ass woman. So instead, I will say this: You deserve to be adored. This isn’t Oprah speaking. It’s me. . . you. . . in the future. . . the you who eventually is adored as she should be. So act on this differently than any self-help reading material.
You deserve to be adored.
I respect your right to choose sometimes to just hang out with a guy or even sleep with him just because you don’t particularly feel like being alone. But when it comes time for the big commitments—anything over even just a couple months—you shouldn’t have to work at making things better, and you damn sure shouldn’t have to convince anyone that you’re worthy of love. If the assclown (One of your favorite people on the planet is going to teach you that word. Listen for it.) doesn’t adore you, he doesn’t deserve you. I don’t mean that he tells you you’re pretty either. I mean that he knows your heart—knows how loving and generous you are, knows how good you believe people are and how much that impacts the way you move through the world, knows how driven you are to help, knows that little things make you blissfully happy—and cherishes all of that as a beautiful gift. Until you find that guy, keep looking.
Don’t stop giving of yourself whole-heartedly, though. That’s also one of your charms. And yes – you’re going to have your heart broken more than once, and it’s going to hurt bad, bad, bad. But the same thing in you that feels hurt so intensely is what feels joy more intensely than most, too. Embrace it all.
Embrace whatever makes other people tick, too. You’re going to figure out soon that not everyone can find and appreciate the jewels in others, especially when those jewels are hiding. This is something you’re good at. You’re good at making people feel valued, just like Mr. Coccari did. You’re good at showing people the good in themselves. Don’t lose that.
And don’t lose your effervescent joy. Yeah – you stay blonde, and yeah, the joy in combination with blonde will often lead people to question and maybe even challenge your intellect. You will soon find, though, that another source of joy is watching people’s expressions when they realize how wrong their first impressions of you were. There’s nothing wrong with choosing to be happy. It doesn’t make you shallow or stupid. In fact, the really happy people in the world are the ones like you who choose it.
Besides, it’s never about proving anything to anyone. Nothing good ever comes from trying to prove something to someone. Do your thing. Own it. Let the naysayers go home and whine about how their tails keep falling off.
Sweet girl — you’re about to become who you’re going to be. A little while after that, you find so much happiness that you wake up and go to bed waiting for the sky to fall and screw it all up. But it doesn’t. . . because the kind of happiness you find is the happiness that comes from following your gut and doing what brings you joy. It really is as simple as that.
I adore you.