Dear 23-Year-Old Self,

Yes, I am finally back online.  It will take me forever to get caught up but so life goes.  While disconnected, I was thinking about this blog and realized I did not write myself a birthday letter; thus, this post’s inception.

Remember those goals you wrote when you were 12?  The sheet was short and simple–something like this (in no particular order).

  • Marry a worthy returned missionary in the temple.
  • Graduate from college.
  • Become a mom.

The goal you hoped most to achieve was motherhood.  You had no idea when that would come to pass and marriage seemed like a fleeting fancy, something that happened to those who were beautiful and witty, characteristics you (falsely) believed you lacked.

Yet, here you are at 23.  You have achieved those goals.  You are a college graduate–the first in your immediate family. You have married an incredible man who is everything you hoped he would be and more.  You have two beautiful children that bring unsolicited smiles frequently.

Motherhood was harder than you expected.  With school, you knew what was needed to receive that “A.”  With parenting, there is no syllabus with its accompanying assignment sheet.  You can’t check Blackboard for your grades.  There is no professor to explain difficult concepts.  So, the next time you envision that imaginary audience who groans and shakes their heads at your mistakes, remember that there is no imaginary audience.  When you make a mistake, it is okay.  Grow from your mistakes, don’t dwell on them.  When you do have a question, ask your friends.  You are surrounded by experienced parents who would not think you are a failure for asking.

Please forsake those insecurities that tie you down.  You are not the awkward teenager who once lived in her older sister’s shadow.  You are beautiful, vivacious, and benevolent.  You have a husband who would slay dragons for you.  You have a daughter and son who instantly forgive your shortcomings.  You have accomplished all the goals you once set for yourself.

People do not look down on you because of your choice to become a stay-at-home mom.  Stop using your education as a snobby reminder that you could have done more with your life.  This is your dream!  Even if someone thinks less of you, it is your choice to believe it or ignore it.   Instead of “if onlys” become the best mom you can possibly be.

Replace your doubt with trust.  You know what is best for you and your family.

Above all, trust your husband.  Trust your friends.  Trust your parents.  Trust your Savior.  Embrace forgiveness–of others and of self.  Hold fast to the truth that has constantly guided you.

Love always,

Me

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15 Comments

Filed under Letters, Reflections

15 responses to “Dear 23-Year-Old Self,

  1. Great post, Amber. Congrats on reaching your dreams.

  2. I love the imaginary audience thing! I think we all think we have an audience watching us, and feel bad when we let our kids eat cereal for dinner or watch 1 too many movies… but as long as we’re doing the best we can, we are doing the best we can!

    Great things to think about, as always.

  3. What a nice and supportive letter to yourself! You truly have a blessed life!

  4. Great letter to yourself 🙂 You have accomplished great things at such a young age. (And now you’re making feel really old.) I’m sure there is more awesomeness to come!

  5. That was really fantastic. Nice job. That is good for all of us to remember.

  6. What a lovely gift to give yourself. And an important one. Happy belated birthday. (And we’re glad you’re back online!)

  7. Such a great idea Amber – to support yourself with a letter to yourself! You will certainly look back on this with fondness.

    You lead a cherished, wonderful life and I’m so happy to see that you see that too.

  8. You had the same dreams I had, and now that many of them have been reached I like to add more and more to the list!

    I like what you said about not using your education as a snobby reminder that you could have done more with your life. Are you sure you are only 23? You seem wiser than that! 🙂

  9. ck

    “Stop using your education as a snobby reminder that you could have done more with your life. This is your dream!”

    YES. Thank you for writing a letter to yourself that also serves as a reminder of what’s really important to other SAHMs around you.

  10. Good to hear your “voice” again! And a husband who will slay dragons is even better than a parenting syllabus. =>

  11. Amber, the most miraculous thing you did is that you believed in yourself. I also wrote goals for myself but found that I didn’t achieve them until much later and disappointment in myself marked my life. What I like about your goals is that they were rock solid, they were eternal, and they were achievable. Mine was none of that, so hat’s off to the very wise 12-year-old Amber!

  12. What a wonderful idea — a love letter to oneself. I believe that our perception of ourselves is what we project to the outside world. Without love of self, how can we ever recognize love when we receive it from others, let alone give it to others?

  13. You are so wise, Amber. I wish I had your strength and spirit when I was 23!

  14. Happy Birthday! Funny thing is that I really have been trying to remember what I was thinking about at 23. I sort of know, but I don’t have any hard evidence.

    One of my favorite aspects of the blog is how it allows us to record our lives. It has been a great way for me to look back and remember.

    It is great that you are able to use this to write yourself a letter and see how far you have come.