Dear 2009 Me,
High five, sistah, you're going to have a hell of a year. No really. You're gunna do fan-flippin'-tastic. And the best part? You fail. A ton. An s-h-*-t load (this is a family blog after all). And the even better part? You pick it all up, dust it all off, and invent LC v2.5, to wild cheers and deafening applause. This year? This will be your year. You will have a meltdown in the wake of your quarterlife. It will be your year of tears, your year of escape, your year of crazy, your year of bad decisions, bad hair, and bad boys. But don't worry because once you get rid of those bangs and that Murray Hill Bro, you'll fly in style. Trust me. I know a thing or two about 2010.
So let's (p)review it, 2009 Me. And let's do it list style:
1. In January, you ski. You fly across the country and ski on the west coast. For the first time. Ever. You get brave and go for some black diamonds, you fall a ton. You try moguls. You still fall a ton. You laugh harder than you ever thought possible while lying on your back staring up at the skiiers on the chairlift above you. You feel the cold snow through your hair and realize that you don't think you'd rather be anywhere else than laughing harder than you ever thought possible while lying on your back staring up at the skiiers on the chairlift above you. You'll realize what it means to have good girlfriends. You start to wonder what you did without their girl-squad-independence and support in the first place. You get up and you ski down the rest of the mountain -- not realizing what a metaphor that is going to be for the rest of the month, the rest of the year...the rest of your life.
You rediscover your journal after 3 years. Good lord, what took you so long? (Oh, and all those super old journal entries from 2005 about how much you missed your college boyfriend while you were studying abroad IN ECUADOR?! Are you kidding me, 2005 Me? Why weren't you out demolishing fried yuca and rice and beans? I'm rolling my eyes at you right now. In fact, we need to have a talk in private when this is all over.)
2. In February, you run. You run with 11 other people, mostly your coworkers at your super corporate law firm job. You are all stuck together in a van, not getting any time to yourself, not showering for 24 hours. Oh, not sleeping either. Just running, eating peanut butter and bananas, and riding in a van. Did I mention you work 5 days a week with these people? And one of them is the head of your department? And you're praying that your brother (who came too) doesn't embarrass the s-h-*-t out of you. But you create a social network of coworkers and find mentors in the women that are stuck in the van with you. You learn about their professional tracks and their life choices, their proudest moments, their gut-wrenching defeats. You feel inspired that they didn't have it so easy either and they want to help make it easier for you. You are humbled.
3. In March you start to feel. Anxious mostly, rolled in with a little bit of confusion. You can't sort out your feelings. For New York, for your current life, for any of those dates that you've been on recently. You will feel that you should be in love. That you're old enough and it's been five years and it's about damn time that you make a commitment to someone instead of some hobby. You want to meet someone exotic, someone far away. You like the idea of moving far away because, hey, it's at least better than New York City in March. Don't give up on New York yet, baby girl, you're right where you should be; even if it takes you some soul-searching and a little disappointment to figure it out.
You start studying for your Foreign Service Exam. You realize that living abroad is really what you want to do. Good for you. Now get to work and nose to the grindstone. Rome/your dream life wasn't built in a day/20 minutes at Starbucks while reading the New York Times.
4. In April, you seek. Advice, counsel, someone to tell you what the eff to do, because you can't stand what you're doing for one more minute. If you weren't already thinking about it, go visit your Aunt out on the west coast. She'll give you some life changing advice and tell you exactly how to live all those dreams you've got up there in your head. But we'll talk more about that in July.
You will be overwhelmed by how supportive and loving your family is during your quest for some answers. They will listen to your incessant questions, put up with your irritability, and soothe your tears. They know that you're on the brink of figuring it out; you just need to figure it out by yourself.
You will rediscover reading in a new way and begin devouring books, as if the supply of information will run out the minute you put it down. Don't worry, there will always be more information, but there won't be as much time with your family and your friends and moments that make you laugh until your sides ache. Put the book down and start living it instead.
5. In May, you celebrate. This is a good month for you, baby girl, and I can't wait to tell you about it. You will freak out about turning 25 (don't worry. You're only 25. Repeat that to yourself for the next 29 days). You will pack your boardshorts and your Billabong triangle bikinis and head to Mexico to ride the waves with 18 other women who will inspire you more than you could ever imagine. You will be told that you are beautiful and lovely and a rockstar and so freakin' brave. You will wonder why no one tells you that back home all the time? You vow to change that.
You will start to wonder if your life is really meant to be 9 hours a day in an office, followed by an hour gym session and an hour of scrolling around on YouTube. You start dreaming about what else life could be and whether or not you actually could live somewhere for a while and not actually have to wear a pantsuit (you can, but more about that in November).
You start your blog as a place where you can wonder and dream. You find that posting to it makes you excited every day. Hold onto that feeling of excitement. That's how you should be feeling every day when you wake up.
6. In June, you test. You take (and pass!) your Foreign Service written exam. Nice job, sistah-friend. You finally feel like you have some direction in your life and are excited about the next steps. It's a long process but you realize that you've made yourself into the kind of girl that doesn't get intimidated when the going gets tough; the kind of girl who knows when to leap and the kind of girl who's not afraid to do it. Leap on, girlfriend. Leap on.
You also test yourself. You start looking for your next challenge and find that traveling by yourself really gets you going. It's what excites you and makes you fiery and giggly and light. Lightheaded, can't eat, can't sleep, dreaming about far away places? That's what we like to call passion in the world of 2010.
7. In July, you climb. You head to Colorado to meet some passionate mountaineers and hike your way up four separate fourteeners. You realize that you love people. You love the outdoors. You love people who love the outdoors. After challenging yourself for a week, being inside your own head, and hauling a backpack up and down serious mountains, you will realize some important things, mostly that you don't have to do anything that you don't absolutely want to do. Really. You don't. Powerful stuff, girl.
You'll climb out of your rut, too. All of the support and love you get from all those awesome people you've met? Inspires you to quit your job, take all of your savings, and jump ship for Asia. For yoga, for exploration, for yourself, for your future. Remember back in April when your aunt told you that you should travel for a while? What was it they were saying about everything working out just the way it is supposed to?
8. In August, you learn. To love. To open up. To stop being so damn scared of yourself and your feelings all the time. You learn to tell people how you feel instead of just hoping that they'll figure it out and if they don't, well, screw 'em. You create an unbelievable network of support. You learn to ask for help; from your friends, from strangers, from people who don't even speak English. You will be surprised at how readily help comes for someone like you who needs it. Don't forget that. Ever.
You get certified. To teach yoga. To take control of your life. To live outside the box, the 9-to-5, the two-weeks-of-vacation a year. You're wondering why no one told you that you could do this in college. Or maybe they did, and you just weren't listening. Try to listen now. To others, to yourself, to that tiny little red beating thing underneath your sweater.
9. In September, you give. You realize that there is life beyond your own and it's in the form of a tiny baby girl named Anna. She is your niece, your soon to be goddaughter (I know. It's exciting!) You have to be there for her as she's growing up, experiencing the same things that you did. Give her little nudges; give her the honor of your attention and a free pass for midnight phone calls. Give her ice cream and hugs when she goes through that first real love heartbreak. Her momma did it for you; time to pay it forward.
You'll find out that you didn't pass the next step of the Foreign Service test, but you decide that it's okay because you're in Thailand, sitting at Bunny Cafe, getting ready to go rock climbing at Crazy Horse Buttresses and then rappel down into a 30 meter cave. It doesn't sting so bad because, well, you're in Thailand. And there aren't many things that can take the sting away like strolling along white sand beaches and diving off of limestone cliffs while gorging yourself on pad thai. I'm just sayin'.
10. In October, you appreciate. New York, your friends, your family. You step off of a plane after three months away from the United States and you almost cry because all of the signs are in English and everyone is smiling at you. You appreciate the cold, brisk New York air, and love that you are familiar with the buildings and streets around you. You will realize that, while traveling is soul opening and life changing, sometimes, every once in a while, you just need to be home.
You start cutting people slack. You give praise like a madwoman and think it feels way better than all that shiz you had been talking back in April. You like making people aware of their individual awesomeness, because someone made you aware of yours and you know how nice it is when someone believes in you. So start believin' girl. And Journey says try not to stop.
11. In November, you change. You move apartments, get rid of your old clothes, purge everything from your old life that you do not absolutely love. You start writing again and you feel energized after every post shows up. You start saying "I feel" and meaning it. You smile. A lot. And it "feels" amazing.
You change your attitude toward the world, too. You believe that everyone deserves a smile because there is no way that you can know everyone's experience. Be welcoming, honest, open, and transparent. People will appreciate that if you are. And well, sometimes a smile even gets you free stuff (I'm looking at you, super sweet barista from Starbucks).
12. In December, you resolve. To make a difference in your life and especially in the life of others. You start looking for new opportunties, to expand your skill set, to think that you actually are a pretty great person, despite the need for every sulky HR Rep in New York who wants to tell you otherwise. You network like a champion. You open doors and close out insecurity. You have opportunities and people are starting to realize your talent. You just had to realize it first.
So keep that chin up, 2009 Me, because this year is so big for discovering yourself. You are a proud, independent woman and you have done such a slammin' job so far. Nope, you still don't have a boyfriend, but you have great network of support. You don't have a job you love, but you have some probono work that you're starting to love. You don't have Christian Louboutins, but you do know how to surf, teach yoga, scuba dive, rock climb, have a conversation with anyone on the planet, and leverage your awesome personality pretty darn well. Cheers to you, babe. Here's to another great year.