10 Things I Wish I Knew at 20

Dear Rachel,

There are only minutes remaining your twenties. A decade full of things you never could have expected — experiences, emotions, adventures. The fullness of life in all the heartbreak and wonder to a level you never could have hoped for.

We’ve been thinking alot about the past 10 years. How only traces of you was still remain. There’s a new woman who stares back at me. A woman who has the scars of life and lines of laughter etched on her body. She’s a little wiser, a little less naive, but still believes the best about people almost to a fault. She’s a woman I’ve grown to respect and even like if I’m honest.

You see, dear one, your twenties will be a crucible. You’re going to be sanctified, refined, put through the fire, you’ll go to hell and back, but you’ll survive. And not to spoil the ending, but you’re going to be captivated by where life takes you.

So tonight, as I’ve been looking back on where you are at 20, beloved, it also makes me look ahead, at the things to come in this next decade of life. I’ve heard our 30’s are your best years and I’m sure when I’m 40, I’ll want to tell 30 year old Rachel a few things as well. But I have yet to learn those lessons and instead I’ve got a few things I’d like to say to you. Things I wish I knew when I was turning 20.

  1. Yes, love, you will finally kiss a boy. Several in fact. This will be a tough thing throughout the next decade. You’ll go through another half a decade before you finally kiss a boy, but you get there. I promise.
  2. Going gluten – free will get easier. Everyone will catch on and it will become a fancy trend and you’ll get to eat a turkey sandwich and have birthday cake. Maybe even a pizza or two.
  3. You will lose more people you love. One Saturday morning you will wake up and find the world has shifted and the people you love are no longer on this earth. But you will have been given time and stories and love and legacy. You will get to say your goodbyes.
  4. Your community will change over and over and over again. People who are in your life right now will not be in your life in ten years. And people who become your soulmates are still years off. Your community will change, revolve, evolve, but one thing will stay consistent, you will have community. You will have people. You will be known.
  5. You will fall in love. True love. You will tell a boy you love him and hold your breath while you wait for his response. And then you’ll fall in love again and again. You’ll understand what it’s like to have butterflies and someone staring into your eyes and telling you they have butterflies. You’ll meet their parents and their siblings and their friends. You will be a girlfriend. You will dance in an empty ballroom around Christmas time and be told you are beautiful. You will fall hard and fast.
  6. You will get your heartbroken. It will be torn out of your chest and smashed to the ground. You will have dark nights you never imagined possible. You will feel like you will never be able to get out of bed again and frankly, you won’t want to. You will be devastated more than once by them leaving.
  7. But you’ll find strength in yourself. You’ll learn how to put one foot in front of the other and face the day with hope. You’ll learn that the scariest thing you thought could ever happen – finding love and losing love – will happen and you’ll be okay.
  8. You will travel around the world. You will have adventures and misadventures. You’ll be driven down windy back roads in India and through downtown DC. You’ll go coast to coast, you’ll bring back the red clay soil from Africa, all the while leaving bits of your heart scattered among the jungle. You will truly see the world.
  9. You go to grad school! Not only do you survive undergrad but Surprise! The thing you’ve always wondered about, the thing you’re actually called to do, the tugging in your spirit you try to ignore? It finally catches up to you. You stop running from it or being afraid of it. You face it straight on and realize it’s exactly what you were created to do. And it’s entirely opposite of what you’re doing right now.
  10. You live life. Fully. You engage in the beautiful and the ugly and the fun and the devastating. You feel it all. You learn how to not let it control you. You learn that it can be a bad day but it doesn’t mean it is a bad life. You learn gratitude for the small moments and large alike. You say yes more often than no. You’ve got the scars to prove it. But you’ve also got the beautiful things. The memories of a baby’s first cry, your first kiss, laughter at Thanksgiving with your family around, standing beside your best friends on one of the most important days of their life, the hilariously awkward things you’re going to say to people which become stories in their own right, the nights you’ll dance until 2am, the words your heart will become fluent in, the moments you’ll pinch yourself wondering if this is really your life. It is sweet girl, it is.

There are so many things to come for you. So many incredible and hard things. You’ll still want the same things when you’re about to turn 30. You’ll ache for a family of your own and someone to share your life with. But you’ll learn how to find depth and love and fulfillment with the life you’ve been given. Because it’s a gift, these precious days you’re living. They are a gift to be cherished regardless of how they look.

So Rachel, I hope you know that while your twenties feel a bit like a mess, they’re amazing. They’re beautiful. And they’re making you exactly who you need to be.

Here’s to hoping the next ten are as wonderful as the last.




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