You know that guy that you can't stop thinking about? The rich one with the big lifted truck and all the toys? The one you're only dating because all the girls love him and all the guys want to be him? The one who exploits you and you continue to take it? Yeah, that one. You're better than that, Lena. You're beautiful and smart and worth so much more than the crumbs he sends your way. Don't waste another minute on this loser.
Also? Seeking revenge on his truck is fine if you must, but please leave before the police arrive.
You are too close to getting your degree to drop out of college now! When your dad says to you "Don't worry about credit debt. It will always be there" completely ignore him. This will be the worst advice you've ever received. Next to your stylist convincing you to perm your bangs. Stay in school, Lena. Don't take that second job. You'll regret it deeply the day you turn 30 and are still only 12 units shy.
****Dear 21 Year Old Lena,
You met someone. Things are moving too fast. He's talking about marriage and what your babies will look like. You fight and make up again and again. This relationship just feels too familiar. He looks good on paper, so you can't figure out why he makes you feel like you can't breathe.
You're confiding in your friend at work. He gives you advice and urges you to hang in there. You feel so confused.
Do you know why? Because you're in love with your friend.
****Dear 22 Year Old Lena,
Take that promotion. You deserve it. Stop trying to be humble. Oh, and insist upon a whole lot more money. You'll find out later that they would have given you double.
Honey, eat something. I know that you're madly in love with this new man in your life, but a size 0? That's just crazy. Stop trying to control your fear of inadequacy by abusing your body. He's not going anywhere. He loves you. Now eat a sandwich.
Also, all that hair you hate? You will KILL to have even half of it back in about 8 years.
****Dear 23 Year Old Lena,
You're making the best decision of your life. You're marrying your best friend and you won't regret it for a minute. (Except that he's totally just pretending that he puts his clothes in the hamper. He does not. They are invisible to him once they leave his body.)
You're going to blame yourself that your dad won't walk you down the aisle. Don't. Those are his selfish issues and not yours. Know that what is making you feel shame now will give you pride later. You are giving yourself away because you are no one else's to give.
Can we talk about your skin? It's like butter. And it's firm. And your butt? My god, stop complaining about it. You have no idea.
****Dear 24 Year Old Lena,
Repeat after me: I can do this.
I know there is a tiny helpless baby in your arms who seems to have endless gas, but you don't need to have all the answers right now. Your love is enough. I know you think it isn't, but I promise. It is.
She doesn't need you to be perfect, Lena. She just needs you to be there.
P.S. Feeding her formula will not kill her. Get your sobbing self off the kitchen floor.
Dear 25 Year Old Lena,
How much did you pay for that purse?? Bring it back. Right now. Come here, so I can slap you.
All that money you're making? Yeah, how about you stop talking about it and spending it and put it in a little thing called a savings account? I know! Crazy concept!
I can't even talk to you right now, 25 Year Old Lena. I'm still bitter.
****Dear 26 Year Old Lena,
You know that house you're thinking of buying? Yeah. Don't.
Now, can we talk about your body? You've never looked better. You're doing yoga and kickboxing. You're healthy and hot and firm. You skin and hair are beautiful.
Why are you still so unhappy with it?
Listen carefully: it is okay to be happy with your body. It is okay to acknowledge that you're beautiful. Stop worrying that people won't like you if you like yourself.
Also, the money. Why are you still partying like it's your birthday? Learn, woman!
P.S. Love the hair. Don't change a thing. Tell Chris that if he wanted a brunette, he should have married one. You'll never get the right shade of blond again.
****Dear 27 Year Old Lena,
Oh, where do I even begin? I want to go back in time and hug you.
There are no words in a simple blog post to convey the true transformation you will undergo this year. You will lay at your father's side as he dies. You will see and feel pain that is so unnatural. You will try to protect your mother. You will try to give your family peace. You will dig deep and find strength you never knew you possessed.
Your spirit will be broken this year. I wish I could tell you that you will ever be whole again.
****Dear 28 Year Old Lena,
You'll start getting paid to write this year. Stop downplaying it. Celebrate.
P.S. Stop with the artichoke dip.
****Dear 29 Year Old Lena,
You'll need to suspend your idealism this year. Follow your gut. You will know that you should take the first offer you get on the house. You will know it in your bones and you need to speak up. You will be the only person in the room who senses what is ahead.
This is your last year at home with your daughter. Get off the computer. Go hug her.
Oh, and that stylist you just found that you're so excited about? Run.
P.S. I warned you about the artichoke dip, didn't I?