Letter to My 18 Year Old Self.
Do you remember when you were younger and the summers felt like an eternity? When you used to sleep until 1pm? When Christmas couldn’t get here soon enough? Do you remember how time had no meaning? It just meant slow and slower. You spent a lot of time waiting. Just waiting. Waiting for things to change. Waiting for your 18th birthday so you can move out of your mother’s house. Waiting for your 21st birthday so you could drink legally. Waiting for something exciting to happen. Waiting for that moment where you realized that you were, in fact, someone special and extraordinary.
You had big plans for life. You want to be a professional. You wanted to be all I-am-woman-hear-me-roar! You wanted to have a career. You wanted to be a lawyer. You wanted to be financially independent. You wanted to be able to take care of yourself because you felt you couldn’t rely on anyone else to take care of you. You told yourself you would have a career first and then, only then, a husband and a baby. You wanted to be able to survive financially if you had a child and ended up getting a divorce. Your timeline went like this: Bachelor’s at 22, JD at 25, marriage at 30, baby at 32. It was also so simple. So perfect.
Then. Then he walks into your life. This man will flip your world and change everything. This man will be tall, dark, brooding, and in search of fulfillment. When he tells you he “feels empty inside” something will stir deep within you. You will want to be that something. You will be drawn to him like a magnet compulsively moves toward another magnet. Suddenly, your perfectly constructed timeline is just that: a construction in your mind. It is a thing of the past because you have found The One. You will still have your goals but marriage will jump to the top of your list. Professional achievements will come second to personal achievements because you realize being in love makes you happier than any job ever could.
Being in love will mean leaving your Miami life behind to follow your heart personified. It means moving to Boston for four years with no plans other than being with the one you love. Being in love has taught you true happiness and you decide nothing is worth doing if it’s not done with passion. You will spend years trying to figure out your professional life. Don’t be surprised by how often you ask yourself “what do I want to be when I grow up?” You will start law school but you will not finish. Love will make you move again. Love will stand between you and law school but you won’t dwell on it for long because it’s love after all. And this love will give you something law school or professional accomplishments can never give you: A Child.
You will love being pregnant. You will hate the first three months of life with the baby girl you name Catarina. You will write her letters every week of your pregnancy, every week and month of her life. You will do this so you won’t forget what you went through but mostly so that she will know who you were when you first became her mother and how much you loved her despite what you felt. You will do it so that she knows YOU. So that one day when she is pregnant with her first child she will feel more connected to you. After those first three months you will love being a mother. You will realize how ironic life is: your personal life is wonderful, but your professional life is one big question mark.
Your real timeline will look like this: Bachelor's at 21, marriage at 23, master’s at 24, baby at 26. I know it might not seem like it, but you will be ok with this. You will realize that it is ok to rely on others and that it is ok to not have your life go according to your plans. Plans are plans. They are not set in stone. There are no certainties in life anyway so you rely less and less on your plans. You will realize that being a mother is actually the career you have been searching for. You will feel passionate about it and, for the first time in your life, you will feel like you are good at something.
Life will take a detour and it may not be what you expected or hoped for but I promise the life you will live will be so much better than anything you could have ever planned. Life is meant to be enjoyed and lived and, trust me, you will soar on the high that is a life well lived.
Try not to stress out too much about the direction of your life. So much changes for you in such little time. Enjoy the ride and remember how fiercely you can love and feel happiness because it’s those feelings that will get you through the tough times ahead. Tears will flow, your heart will break, and you will feel disappointment like never before, but love will keep you hopeful. It will keep you moving forward with your head held high and a smile permanently on your face.