Dear younger self,
You had questions about where you’ll be in your twenties, and I (I think) have pretty good answers. And you certainly didn’t waste any time in getting to some of the tougher, more prodding questions. I’ll answer them in the order they were asked.
1.) Yes and no. Yes, you’ve written things and they’ve been published. Some of your articles have even been published on CNN.com. You consider this an accomplishment at first, but it feels less and less so over time. (You can still be pretty hard on yourself, I’m sorry to say.) You have also published a children’s book called The Care and Feeding of Stuffed Ducks, but you always discount this when telling people about it. (Did I mention you’re still pretty hard on yourself?) You also have plans to write another children’s book.
Even though you’ve written, even though you’ve been published, I’m still tempted to tell you that no, you’re not a writer. Throughout your twenties, but mostly in your late twenties (I’m 28 now), you’ll question whether or not you’re really meant to be a writer. And you’ll try to look back on when and why this desire came about. I guess what I’m saying is that I don’t know if your desire to be a writer is great enough to help you become one. I’m also not sure what my definition of a writer is or when I’ll be satisfied to say, “Yes, I am a writer.”
What’s your definition of a writer? Does it sound like I can call myself one?
UPDATE: You just started a job where your title is writer, but you’re working on writing more for yourself.
2.) Yes, you are single and loving it! There are people who will start to make you feel like you need to find someone or that life is better when married or in a couple (*cough* Grandma), but you know this isn’t true. There are so many things about yourself that you’re trying to figure out and learn, and one of the things you’ve come to like most about yourself is how well you can do things on your own. You like that you can be alone, can do things alone, can enjoy your own company. You feel pretty complete and whole without having someone else in your life. Plus, there’s a lot you’re still trying to accomplish.
If someone came along who could appreciate all this about you, then he’s superior enough to be with. You’re sure that you will meet your equal one day, but, well, maybe you won’t. And that’s okay, too. You’re awesome on your own, let’s just leave it at that.
3.) You still get depressed sometimes. Right now, you’re in the middle of one of the worst bouts of depression you’ve had in a long time. But you’re doing all you can to heal. What does healing consist of?
- Taking time for yourself
- Listening to podcasts you’ve gotten behind on
- Working on creative projects
- Ordering bread pudding and beer for dinner against your better judgment. Taking small and careful bites of bread pudding to ensure you enjoy it. Finding a good stopping point–not too full, not still hungry–and packing the rest of the bread pudding up to take home for later
4.) You love food and you love to cook. I know this must be shocking for you to hear. I promise that you finally get to a point where you’re strong enough to let your eating disorder and other inner demons go. When this happens, the world will open up to you in a brand new way. You’ll love your body. You’ll like yourself. Sometimes there will be fears that are hard to shake, and old thoughts will creep in to cloud your judgment. But for the most part, you’re happy and hungry. You have an insatiable appetite, little Maggie! You want to be and feel and do everything. This is one of the most beautiful things about you, and I promise that you come to see this.
5.) Actually, you do have a tattoo. It’s about two years old, now, and it’s on the underside of your left wrist. It says Write in fancy black script–not very creative on your part, I must say. You get this tattoo when a friend you don’t have or know yet comes to town. You both have a little too much to drink one night and decide that the best way to declare you’re a writer is to get the word Write etched into your skin. So you do it.
You end up having mixed feelings about the tattoo. It’s kind of an awful and beautiful post-it note on your flesh–it reminds you to write. But it also feeds your impostor syndrome–you feel like you’re pulling the wool down over people’s eyes even further. We already talked about how hard it is to declare yourself a writer. It’s just odd that you have this tattoo. You’d rather people not ask about it.
UPDATE: This past July, you decided to get a second tattoo while your best friend Chris was visiting–he was en route to Bahrain, where he’ll serve his Naval duty for the next two years. It’s etched into the soft, milky-white flesh of your right arm, and you really love this tattoo. Picture it: the elephant inside the boa constrictor’s stomach from Le Petit Prince, outlined in only black ink.
6.) Yes, you are beautiful. Men who see you naked will even tell you so. But you figure this out on your own. It doesn’t matter if other people think you’re beautiful–you need to think this. You need to know this. And you do, eventually.
7.) Have I forgiven you? You’re right, I’ve hated you and have been disgusted with you for a long time. But you don’t need my forgiveness. We’re different people, you and I, but I need you. Who I am wouldn’t be here if it weren’t for you. I’m not really sure what it is I blame you for. Whatever it is, it’s probably not your fault and outside your control.
8.) You’re badass, you’re interesting! It’s what we’ve always wanted to be. And guess what? Real life is just beginning.