I originally wanted to write a letter to my eighteen year old self, giving life advice I know now. However, after thinking this over I realized that at eighteen I was carefree and probably wouldn’t listen to this advice anyways. Eighteen year olds know everything right? At least I thought I did. (currently laughing at that thought). I chose to write a letter to my twenty year old self because I was in a terrible relationship, was struggling to find who I really was, and trying to juggle taking eighteen credits a semester while working and having a social life. I wish I knew then what I know now.
*Disclaimer: There is swearing.
Dear Twenty Year Old Ashley,
Take a deep breath. Seriously, relax a little bit. That test you have been studying for the last 8 hours…you are going to do just fine. Diving head first into those court cases and determining your arguments and which previous cases you are going to reference and counter reference will pay off. But breathe. Remember, debate is your non-birth middle name and you can argue your way through anything. You got this! You are working your ass off and it is paying off…but maybe you are overworking yourself. We both know, those all-nighters are no good for someone who loves sleep as much as you do.
Do not be in such a rush to figure out what you are going to do for the rest of your life. You are going to be doing something you never thought you would be doing…and you love it. Keep your options and mind open. You do not need to know right now at this exact second what your career path will be. Between you and me, I am not sure how anyone expects you to know at such a young age what you want to do as a career. You have the whole world at your finger tips. So don’t be in such a rush to figure it all out. Spoiler alert, you will NOT be an attorney, living in a big city but you will learn that is the opposite of what you want.
Now look around you. Although you won’t believe me when I say this but in five years from now not everyone around you will still be apart of your life. And that is okay. It is okay to lose a few people or drift away from some. As the years go by, you will not be able to send a text asking if they were going to the party at Lafayette Street or on Franklin (Winona State alumni…you know what I am talking about ha) or make last-minute plans. Or find someone to work for you and take the day off to spend with your friends. You become busy and they become busy. Your friends move away and start their own lives. Now, with this being said. I want you to enjoy every last second of it. Spend as much time as you can with your friends from home and from WSU. Trust me, those moments will mean a hell of a lot more when you are older and you will reminisce when you meet up with your friends again. Your heart will smile a little bit when you drive through Winona and your hometown. You will think back on old memories and all the dumb things you did and laugh. Some people are not meant to stay in your lives forever but you will always have those memories.
Most importantly, if someone treats you like shit, they do not give a shit. They don’t! Trust me. Stop trying to justify the shitty things toxic people do. I know this is easier said than done but in the end you are the only one getting hurt. You are too good of a person to let someone suck the light out of you. And do not apologize for walking (in some instances running) away and blocking them from your lives. You do not owe them an apology. This includes relationships and friendships.
And stop trying to please everyone and be perfect. You do not have to make everyone around you happy. This will not make you happy. Your happiness cannot defined by making everyone else around you happy. Ashley, accept that you are flawed and perfection does not exist. You are a human being. You will make mistakes. Actually, you will make a lot of mistakes. The best part is, the people who mean the most will not think of you any less.
Start building a foundation for a healthy lifestyle now. I am not saying to spend 3 hours int the gym and go on runs. But stay active and be active. Do what you can now to be healthier so it is a little easier down the line. And remember to take care of yourself both physically and mentally.
I promise you are doing better than you think.
The “Older and Wiser” Twenty-Five Year Old Ashley.