Where I write

Where I write

April 8, 2013

What I Wish I Knew at 25

I was browsing through an old Oprah magazine the other day and found an article titled What I Wish I Knew. In the article an assortment of middle-aged and accomplished women, from the actress Shirley Maclaine to the 2011 national book award winner for poetry, Nikky Finney, were asked what advice they would give their 25 year old selves. Shirley said she'd eat less sugar and ask for guidance from her higher self, and Nikky said she'd watch her life as it were a film and absorb everything.

We all say as we age, if only I knew then what I know now. Lately, especially when reviewing my writing career, I feel as if I have wasted a whole bunch of time. What would my life had been like if I had been able to advise my 25 year-old self? Would I have a shelf of bestsellers??

Even successful Oprah had advice for her young self. She said she would never have wasted even a moment doubting her path.
Looks to me by this house she bought herself in California that she didn't spend THAT much time wallowing in self doubt.  I put down the Oprah magazine and thought that's what I'll do. I'll write a letter to my 25 year old self. I found a few old photos to inspire me.  Dear Susanne,Do not perm your hair. Someday, way into the future, you will be taking a shower and you will see your hair clogging the drain. You will look in the mirror and be able to count the strands of wispy hair left on your head. So what if everyone in the 80s has big hair. That fad, like acid washed jeans, will pass. Leave your hair alone. By the way, spend less time in pool halls. These are the kind of men you will meet in pool halls.
At 25 you find the rebel appealing, the thrill of the ride, the lust for adventure and drama. By the time you are 50, you want a solid 401k and someone who doesn't drink beer every day or take off on his bike when you need him to go to the grocery store.  So spend less time drinking and shooting pool, and more time in the library. You might not have a lot of wild memories, but you will know how to use a comma properly.

Appreciate that you can wear a bikini. Your days of bikini wearing are numbered. You might think you are different, that you will always be able to show off your belly button, but you are wrong. One day you will be at Ross and you see a rack of bikinis and you will look at them with such longing and then you will veer toward the area of the bathing suits which look like the kind your mom wore. The bathing suits you will have to buy have such features as tummy tucking and thigh slimming.  So wear the bikini now when you are 25, because after that, sure you can wear one, but who wants to look?
Appreciate your girlfriends. (I'm on the far right with the perm). Men will enter and exit your life, jobs come and go, pets die, children move away, but your cherished friends will always remember you just as you were, at 25, when you still were all starry eyed and sweet about life. Being with your long time friends will remind you of your fun, nice self, and help you from becoming cynical and bitter and cranky. Your true friends will love you even if you don't have a mansion like Oprah. Oh and remember this... no man will ever make you laugh as hard as you laugh with your girlfriends.

And laughter will keep you young.
Love, Susanne
P.S. Floss. You will appreciate having your own teeth the older you get.


Virginia Nelson said...

What a lovely post. I just celebrated my double thirty (60) birthday, as I call it and of course like many others I often look back and wonder what I might have changed if I would have known what I know now. Perhaps a lot, perhaps not so much, its so hard to decide but yes men would be on the top of my list. Living through the 60's I think I would have told those who said ban the bra and go braless to take a hike too. Thanks for giving me something to think about. V

gloria said...

Oh my goodness dear Susanne! This is so funny yet poignant. Now I'll have to think back to my own 25 year old self and give her a good talking to! Where were we, you me and Chris, in that picture? I look a little loopy, don't I. Get this, I found a picture of my, wearing that same shirt, in front of my blender. The same blender I use today! Seems blenders hold up better than people (not you, of course). Love you and thanks for the great post!

Anonymous said...

Awesome post! I think I'd tell my 25 year old self that there is more to life than than my job. I was a few years off from learning that lesson back then. :-)

SunsetCindi said...

Wow, at 25 I had 3 children and a foreign husband and was trying to be the Happy Homemaker. I would tell myself to enjoy each moment as they go way too quickly and we never get those times back. Now if we said what would we tell ourselves when we were 18, well that would be a whole 'nother story!

Rita A. said...

Great post. I love how when you write your voice is so strong and so you. I'm not sure what I'd tell myself. Perhaps: RUN!