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To my 20-year-old Self:

You have just stepped into the big, scary world and the ride will not always be smooth. Love deeply without fear or analysis and be loved without judgment or condition! The people In your life that you are consistently proving yourself to are not your people. Find your tribe. It's a group of people that make you feel like you are everything they love about people. They will be the mirror for which you try to view yourself, but you will also never be able to quite understand how they could see you that way. They will make you want to be better. Sometimes that will be your family, and sometimes it won't. Tribes are about you, not about blood. Be kind to strangers and leave good tips. Share your stories with others. The discovery of your own vulnerability will change your life. Be grateful above all else and you will always be focused on how much you have, never on what you don't! Marriage is not a fairytale, but if you learn to accept and embrace its difficulties and imperfections, you will truly experience a love and relationship beyond what any movie taught you that you wanted. You can never be prepared for the closeness and loneliness of motherhood because it is a journey, not a destination. While it is the greatest gift you will ever receive, you will have moments of panic, exhaustion, fear and disappointment that will make you feel like you should have never become a mom. You will still make a million bad choices, but you'll start to recognize them and learn from them. Enjoy every moment of those ups and down and do your best without guilt. No person or lifestyle will make you happy. You can't find it, you have to create it for yourself with intention and grit. You are good enough, smart enough, pretty enough and tough enough.  Do not run from pain, rather embrace it for the lessons it teaches and wisdom it awards you! Find the funny. Take time for dance breaks when the world feels like it is caving in. Forgive those that have hurt you or you will never find peace. Embrace your strength for the asset it is and not the shame it sometimes brings you. Be joyful in your accomplishments and even in your failures. You are loved and happiness is already inside you. Moments of hardship, depression, doubt or sadness are just moments and do not define your ability to overcome life. Be brave and walk through open doors. Your whole life will be changed on the other side. You will find yourself and your happiness in your service to others, so seek to serve. Find a cause to believe in and fight hard on behalf others with passion and empathy. Wake up every day and understand that others are suffering far worse than you. Remember that the world is big and that the only constant thing in this big world is change. Remember this list but also remember you will die without perfecting any of it! You will be fulfilled having spent your life trying and you will be blessed beyond belief!

Rita Givens1 Comment