I am about to turn 32 in 3 weeks. I am now going through some things that are forcing me to look back into my twenties and it's hard. It's hard because I WISH I was better prepped for it all. Do you ever wonder what you’d say if you could sit your 20 year old self down and have a forecasting conversation? Man, that would take some thinking through. Isn’t it funny that everyone in human existence would have some type of “better” advice to give their former self.  There is always some type of warning, regret, informative counsel that you would have loved to tell YOU 10 years ago. That isn’t bad! I just think it’s funny that I am yet to meet anyone who would say: “You’re going to do everything right and perfect, I have no advice for you as you walk through your twenties, you will have no mistakes to learn from either! Have fun!” I get it, we wouldn't be who we are today if we hadn’t made those mistakes… blah, blah, blah. I do understand that and I don’t at all disagree, BUT that is not the point of this post. You can’t tell me that if you had a chance you wouldn’t try your best to steer yourself another direction in certain situations/circumstances. I think it would be interesting/helpful/therapeutic to write out a “letter to my former self” and see just what I would say at this point to Caroline Miller, an uncertain yet hopeful 20 year old college student trying to figure out who she is one frat party at a time. 

Dear Caroline,

First of all, if you get nothing else out of this letter, remember this: You are SO MUCH more than you think you are. You have more to offer than you are even capable of knowing yet. If you can remember one thing in the next few years- when you put yourself in a box by limiting yourself to what you’re comfortable doing, you’re selling yourself short of growth. I know you have been deeply hurt and even more deeply disappointed. Hurt by people, disappointed by circumstances. You have been let down and in result you have lost confidence in certain areas of your life. Dealing with pain is going to be a big struggle through the next ten years, so I want to tell you a bit about it ...from experience. 

You will have to journey through what it looks like to process pain, and it's going to be a bumpy road. It's SO MUCH easier to distract yourself from the things that hurt, specifically the things that cause you so much grief that you feel like it will never get dealt with for the rest of your life. In that mindset, you get really good at ignoring your true condition. You may or may not start to lean on things that are only helpful in the short term for fulfillment or momentary highs. This is also a part of your learning and growth, but if I can help you to shorten those "in the mean time" coping and survival mechanisms, I will.

Good news: Pain CAN go away and it does NOT have to dictate your actions and decisions. You have loads more control of your choices and decisions than you think you do. Be open to that when you feel powerless.

(Perceived) Bad news: You may not believe that for a while and eventually will have to work really hard to get rid of it... and it won't be immediate. Which is always a bummer, sorry kid. Anything worth attaining will definitely take some straining. You will have three children and this will ring more true to you after that. There are soooo many life analogies that fit into the process of childbirth... but that's another chat for later.

Pain deserves to be faced, embraced, dissected and respected. Look at it, dwell in it, study yourself inside of it and adjust your perception of it. Feeling deeply is a gift and can go both ways in heights of joy but always depths of hurt. I believe that feeling pain is what keeps you pliable to change. HOWEVER, if you choose to stay in it too long... things get sticky. You will turn into a pity partier, a bit self obsessed, very needy and probably pretty bitter. I beg you to not forget the other side of pain. It's a much more pleasant and all over better dwelling place and it is TOTALLY waiting for you to inhabit. Just food for thought.

Now, you're capable of getting through some REALLY REALLY hard things, you dont know that now, but 10 years later you will. Somewhere deep inside yourself, you are convinced you are weak and easily defeated. There is nothing more valuable in this process than the commitment to forward motion. You will also HAVE to, no exceptions, let others in on this journey with you. Whenever you feel like isolating yourself, that means you have chosen shaming yourself over sharing yourself. Sharing yourself means to be honest and open with someone about what you're dealing with. You will be FLABBERGASTED by how quickly shame can dissipate once you release it outloud and hear certain words from another person's mouth. Words of acceptance and the outward perspective of how strong you truly are and how deeply important your true self is to this world.

Lastly, come to terms with your journey not ALWAYS being the straight and narrow. You're going to take some detours, you are going to mess shit up, you're going to make crappy choices and even reap the consequences of them...BUT you're STILL VALUABLE inside of it all and you're still on your journey even if you feel like you've abandoned forward motion. Think of it as a decorative journey. You're "keeping it interesting with a dash of drama and mild destruction. "What's going to happen to her?" She asks from the the outside looking in. Well, what do you want to happen?? What are you projecting vs. what are you desiring? What kind of ending do you have in mind? IT'S YOUR JOURNEY. Decorate it girl. Just remember a few of these things along the way. It'll help you get through.  Also, your life over here is effing awesome and I'm VERY proud of you.