Friday, February 10, 2017

5 Things I Wish I Could Tell My 23-Year-Old Self

I caught the train home with John the other day and, because it was so delayed, we got home later than we'd expected and ended up rushing to our dinner reservation at the pub.

"Man," John said, as we pushed past commuters and sped walk to the pub. "Do you remember what it was like to start a new job in your 20s? And how devastating it felt when you were going to be five, no, ten minutes late? And how you'd be like, so apologetic, even if it wasn't your fault - even if the train was late?"

And yeah, I did remember. I remember rushing to my job at Penguin Books when I first moved to London and texting my manager with multiple status updates before apologizing profusely when I arrived late due to a tube station being closed, or the boiler breaking down in our rented flat. Her response was always the same: "Don't worry. We'll see you when you get here."

And yeah, I do think that that's the time in your career when you should stress about those kinds of things. But although our jobs are more demanding today than they were back then, we're also a bit more experienced and senior in our respective roles to not sweat the small stuff as much anymore.

Last year marked 10 years in London for me. I can't quite believe it.

Looking back, there's so much I'm thankful for; so much I'm proud of. But I also have so many regrets.

Here's what I wish I could tell my 23-year-old self:

Be brave. Even when it's hard.

You're doing so well. Just keep going. Take that boat to Greenwich Market. Visit the Wallace Collection on your own next weekend. Apply for that job. Pitch to that magazine. Know your own worth. Go on that friend date, even if you have nothing in common. You'll get through it.

Deciding not to move in with your boyfriend right away is the best decision you'll ever make.

Sure, you'll live with flatmates for a bit longer than you'll want to in the end, but in doing so, you're building the foundation for your future in London - and for your future with John. In finding a gym, a favorite yoga class, an orchestra to perform with, your own friends - you're making this place your home. It's important.

Don't feel guilty for being so far from your family.

This is the life they've always wanted for you. They love you. They're proud of you. There's also this thing called the internet ... and FaceTime will be a thing in a few years' time. You'll see more of your dad than you would at home. Every Sunday. Guilt will just suck the enjoyment out of the best years of your life. Trust me on this one.

You'll be that woman you secretly admire on the tube someday.

You'll have a career. You'll write. You'll have the handbag. You'll wear the heels. You'll own a home. You'll wear the clothes you've always wanted to wear. But for now, just enjoy being where you are. Who you are. Live in the moment. Stop aspiring. Because it'll never feel enough and - trust me - you are good enough just the way you are. Right here, right now.

Buy the dress. Wear the dress.

No matter how short or low cut it is. Because one day, you'll wake up on your 27th birthday, and you will have a paunch, which (spoiler alert) won't be going anywhere. And your legs will never be as cellulite-free as they are right now. So, seriously. BUY. THE. DRESS.

What advice would you give your younger self? I'd love to know.

I wish I could go back in time and give myself a big hug! I'd tell that girl to stop worrying - that she's on the right path.

That she always was.

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