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WHAT I WOULD TELL MY 20-SOMETHING SELF


When John and I were recently in New York, he wanted to see my Upper East Side apartment building. He had heard many stories of my time in that studio, because they were my happiest in Manhattan. It was before Dad died, before I got engaged to the wrong guy and moved to New Jersey. I was single and care-free, my only responsibility was showing up at my PR agency job. I showed John the route I’d take from my building on rollerblades every Saturday morning, heading west past EJ’s Diner, the flagship Ralph Lauren store and into Central Park for several loops. And the Equinox I’d go to afterward for my favorite body-sculpting class. And then to my favorite lunch spot.


Those blissful Saturdays aside, my life back then wasn’t all sunshine and fun, in spite of being in the best shape of my life. There were many angst-filled days wondering where my life was going, if a career in PR would fulfill me in the long-term and if I’d ever find Mr. Right amidst a few Mr. Right Nows.


As I walked up to the familiar stoop, the 48-year old me delighted in where my life has taken me, that I’ve found other professional endeavors that not only fill my bank account but also my soul, and that I was there with my ultimate Mr. Right. It made me wish I could go back in time and talk to that unsure, impatient, searching 20-something about all I’ve learned.


I’d tell her:

  • Always listen to your gut, which you will later call your Heart Voice. It knows what’s right for you, and when you ignore it, you’ll always get in trouble.

  • It’s ok not to know what’s next. The joy is in the journey. Spend more time as a human being, instead of always as a human doing.

  • Everything happens at the right time. Don’t try and rush life. It goes fast enough.

  • All the experience you’re gathering is valuable. You will use it all in your work and in raising humans.

  • It’s ok that you don’t fit in the box. You’re not meant to color inside the lines, and the ones who don’t get you aren’t your people. You’ll find your people. More than you could possibly imagine.

  • It’s much better to face pain than to try and numb it with the wrong men, the wrong food and alcohol (which is oh so wrong for your body).

  • Yes, you will make a profound difference in people’s lives. The vehicle won’t be how you imagined, but the results will.

  • Yes, there are books in you, and you’ll write them. They’ll come out when they’re damn good and ready.

  • The Love of Your Life is out there, but you’re not ready for him yet. You’ve got to do a lot of growing up first. He’s not in the package you currently think he should come in. He’s full of depth, doesn’t fit into a box either, and will make you laugh like no other. And he will be an even better husband and father than the model by which you measure. He will let you become all you’re meant to be, and in fact, help you do it. And when you meet him, you’ll have no doubt that you’re home.

  • One day you’ll wish you were as thin as you were when you bitched that you were fat. Stop bitching and love this beautiful vessel that has yet to be contorted by two pregnancies. C-sections and gravity.

  • One day you’ll come back to this place and jump for joy over who you’ve become, all the growing you still have to do and all the adventures ahead.

And even though this list will never get to the younger me, writing it reminds me how far I’ve come. This is particularly encouraging during a time when it’s easy to get overwhelmed by how much work is ahead to reach my goals. So much so that I’m telling you to do it too.


If you could, what would you tell your younger self? Write the first thing that pops into your head in the comments below. And then take 15 minutes this week to get really quiet and write down your message to her. I know it will make you so grateful for your journey, so proud of all you’ve become and even more excited for all that’s ahead.

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Romi Neustadt © 2019