Dear Me: A Letter to my 23 Year Old Self

Last year I wrote a letter to my 22 year old self. It was my birthday post to myself and I liked it. It was a good way for me to reflect on what I had been through in the year and reading back on it now, it’s fun to see how I saw things – you know, hindsight being 20/20 and all. I decided to do it again this year, albeit a little late. I hope you enjoy!

Dear Chelsea,

I bet you thought 22 was hard, but 23 is a beast all it’s own. Unfortunately this is a year of loss and slow rebirth and it will feel as painful and hopeless as it sounds. The heartbreak you will face this year in every aspect of our life is only making room for other things to grow and you will come out of it stronger, more self-aware, and still with a sliver of optimism shinning through.

Professionally you’ll start 23 off with a bunch of un-fufilling jobs. It’s ok. Your decision to sit out of this election cycle will be smart and will allow you the opportunity to try out different things and career paths. You will actually spend the majority of 23 not working, allowing you the time to write and write and write some more. You’ll get published and build a following that will respond to the things you’re going through, reminding you that you are not alone. In fact, your development as a writer will be one of the greatest things that will happen to you all year. Once you start working for a non-profit you’ll learn even more about the things you love and don’t love when it comes to what you want to be when you grow up. You’ll feel like you’re not getting closer but you are. Every experience you have working this year will strength your strong skills and develop the ones you haven’t had up until this point. Focus on that.

Romantically, I hate to say it’ll be even tougher. You’ll finally have the courage to let go of Nicholas and of a relationship you knew wasn’t healthy but you fought for anyway. It will hurt when you break up. You’ll feel guilt and shame and loss. As much as you’ll beat yourself up about not doing it sooner know that you made the right choice. You’ll date a bit and meet some guys who will make you remember why you hate dating. Just be open. Be open to dating all kinds of guys knowing that it’s going to make you that much more clear on who you want to be with long term. You might suffer from small heartbreaks along the way, take them with a grain of salt – it’s not a reflection on how awesome you are, it’s a reflection on how awful they are.

You’ll also have real loss to grieve through this year and it will be the most defining thing about your 23rd year of life. There will be a lot of other little things but this will impact you the most. You will realize that losing someone changes everything and that watching someone you love feel that pain is the hardest thing in the world. You will watch as a family is ripped apart and then quietly puts themselves back together. You will know that feeling and become a more compassionate person to those who’ve lost parents in their lives. It will make you see things differently and appreciate that life can end at any moment so you might as well live it the way you want everyday. It’ll also make you realize that family is something you want and love and cherish in a deeper way than ever before.

Friendship wise this is your year. You will meet and connect with people that are truly the greatest friends ever. You’ve been waiting your whole life to have the support of the people you end up with in this 23rd year. You will laugh more, you will be more honest, you will understand why having strong female friends is the most important thing a woman in her 20’s could ever have and it will be the saving grace to your year.

You will have a lot of low moments. A lot of tears will be shed because this year was hard. Nothing about growing up is easy and yet you will find yourself turning a personal corner that you’ve been waiting for. Push yourself, don’t be discouraged when the darkness takes over, use it, write about it because people are listening and reading and thanking you for being honest about the experiences you’re going through. I promise you’ll have moments where you don’t think you can take anymore but you’d be surprised at how much you can handle. You’ll continue to be the dynamic and resourceful young woman your parents raised you to be.

Oh – and speaking of which, you’ll work out some daddy issues this year too. You’ll need to because you’re an adult and you realize that your parents (while slightly misguided) have tried to do their very best in raising you and it doesn’t make sense to not have them be apart of your life.

They will support you when you decide to just up and move and try things out in Denver, because that’s what parents do.

Whatever you do , don’t do things differently. You’ll find that this year is shaped more by circumstances out of your control guiding you to rebirth than by conscious choices. Stay strong, be brave, and enjoy this year of transformation. Because you will make it to 24 and it will be beautiful.

Love,

Your 24 year old self

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The Best Laid Plans

I had a whole plan for this weekend; Halloween Friday, fundraising event Sunday, all leading into my birthday week and a glorious birthday weekend next week… You know what they say about best laid plans though… The truth is I’ve spent most of my weekend pretty emotionally raw.

Friday would have been me and my ex’s 3 year anniversary. He texted me that morning wishing me a happy Halloween and I balled for an hour. I still think it was the right decision for both of us but I won’t pretend for a minute it wasn’t the hardest thing I have ever done. I spent most of the weekend walking around in a heavy mixture of guilt and nostalgia and tried my best not to let it dampen my resolve to have a good weekend. But it did anyway.

A big part of this was a date I had last Tuesday. It was the first time I made dinner for a guy who was not my ex in over 3 years. It was also the first guy I let over to my apartment since I moved in, and while I knew this, I didn’t think it was all that big of a deal. As it turned out, it was a big deal. I had been nervous and excited and yet he turned out to be one of those guys who was already looking for the next one before he’d even left my apartment. That kind of date ruins you for a little while. It’s the kind of date that tears at your self-esteem and makes you feel cheap and trashy.

But I didn’t have a lot of extra energy to let that bring me down this week. I was (am) swirling in financial issues and my end of the month deadlines and the fact that I didn’t write all week. Maybe it’s because my birthday’s next week but this pressure to be okay made me feel worse. I didn’t cry a lot but I did spend most of my weekend purposefully keeping to myself, as if this funk I’ve found myself in is contagious. I’ve noticed that a lot of my interactions with people are bright, positive, and upbeat and I didn’t feel like being any of those to anyone this weekend. I didn’t feel like putting on a slutty costume and walking around in shoes that make my feet hurt while freezing. I didn’t feel like being around friends and smiling for instagram pictures and snapchats. I just felt like quarantining myself to my bedroom and working on writing and healing and self-reflection.

I’ve also officially submitted my application to be a full-time writer at Thought Catalog. For those of you who already think I work for them, I don’t. Writing full-time has never been something I actively pursued. I love writing and always thought that if it was meant to be a career choice for me then the right opportunity would present itself, and now it has. I find myself trying not to get my hopes up too high at the possibility and yet all I can think about is how much fun I had all summer writing and working out and living life and I find myself wanting it so badly I can practically taste it.

All in all this weekend wasn’t what I thought it would be. All in all this weekend was hard, and sad, and lonely by choice rather than by circumstance. I guess you could say this last weekend of my 23rd year of life was a lot like my 23rd year of life as a whole. It’s always the best laid plans, that come undone.