Mar25

An Open Letter to 1-Year-Old Me On My 39th Birthday

{Now.  Photographed by Jorge Camaraza}

{Then}

Dear Me,

This is you, on your first birthday 38 years ago. Yup, you make it to 39. So, here I sit, imparting the wisdom I’ve achieved in my last year of my 30s. I think it’s safe to say a lot will change. First instance, you will not be this fat. In fact, you’ll be so damn skinny everything you own will need to be altered. During the Kate Moss era, this will make you feel awesome. During the Kardashian age, not so much. On the plus side, seamstresses will love you. Eventually, you will learn to be comfortable in your own skin. But it’s going to take a loooooooong, loooooooooong time.

But that’s not the only thing that will change along the way. There will be giant triumphs. You’ll grow your very own best friend. You’ll have jobs that, while they are not a monetary success, will help you achieve not just goals but your dreams. All those years you spend working two jobs in college, they pay off. You do make it as a journalist—despite the near death of that field year after year after year. Also, you’re the most stubborn person you know. Which may be why you’ve managed to make that whole scenario work. You should also know it’s OK to change gears. It’s the adventure that makes the journey worth it.

There will be pitfalls along the way, too. The cookie cutter life you were conned into thinking you had to have to be happy, that’s not going to happen. And yet, you still manage to find happiness despite that. You will find someone you love who loves you right back, who completes you. And he will bring a family to your life you can’t imagine wasn’t always there before. Two boys! A dog!

You’ll lose the most important people along the way, but treasure what they taught you in their time here. That part is going to suck. But you learn to roll with the punches.

And you’ll realize it’s not the volume of friends you have that matter (those come and go), it’s the quality of friends. Some of the dearest people in your life will be the ones you’ve known the least. And some who have know you the longest will be the greatest source of disappointment.

There will be bad haircuts, worse dye jobs, eyebrow waxings that leave you hiding in your house for weeks. There will be bad dates. And that trip to St. Lucia—yeah, you’re going to regret that, big time. But it’s all of these foibles that make you who you are. They give you stories to tell, to write. So, while you’re sitting there going, “Why me?” Know there’s a reason behind it.

Lets not forget the magical moments. You move to New York and work as a writer. You do get over that fear of planes and see beautiful portions of the world. You will ball your eyes out front row at Belle & Sebastian. You will walk in a thong down a runway in your late 30s. You will be on live TV multiple times. When it comes to good times, there will be many. And you will be beyond grateful for all of them.

What you most need to know about yourself is this: You are stronger than you could ever imagine. You will go through some, well, shit (don’t worry, profanities are some of your favorite words) and you will not just survive, but manage to turn that whole shitty situation into something that works in your favor. You aren’t one to be kept down. Your life does turn into a beautiful fairytale, just your version of one. Turns out, happily ever after is a thing.

So, remember this, you’re going to be fine, kid. Now go run around and step away from that cake. We’ve got a lot of calories to burn before we get to where we are today. How that happened is one mystery I still don’t have the answer to. So, happy birthday, rollie polly Ginger. That little girl inside you is still very alive and well today. Remember that, always.