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8.08.2007

30

Dear 20 year old Lena,

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.

Love,
30

****
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.

Love,
30

****
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.

Love,
30

****
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.

Love,
30

****
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.

Love,
30

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.

Coupon Clipping,
30

****
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!

Love,
30

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.

Love,
30

****
Dear 28 Year Old Lena,

You'll start getting paid to write this year. Stop downplaying it. Celebrate.

Love,
30

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.

Love,
30

P.S. I warned you about the artichoke dip, didn't I?

140 comments:

Y said...

LENA.

God. This is just so... good? Awesome? Sad? Funny? Perfect?

But, I'm kind of mad that you made me cry, because I'm wearing that cheap mascara that I got with a $2 off coupon at Target and now I have to go re-apply.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY and I love you.

Shelby said...

Happy Birthday, Lena!

I'm a long-time reader, never-time comment-poster to (both) your blogs, and I have to say, this post? Amazing. Just about made me cry, too. You are an incredibly honest, wonderful person. I can tell, and I don't even know you. Hope you have an amazing day.

Janssen said...

Such an awesomely hilarious (and tiny bit sad) post. Thanks for shraing and Happy Birthday!

Kaleigh said...

Happy birthday, and welcome to the best decade of your life. You're gonna love your 30's. I promise. (Oh, and great post, too. Seriously.)

Karly said...

This was AWESOME!

Happy Birthday!

Sugared Harpy said...

Welcome to 30! You will love it here, we have margaritas and self-love. Of the nice and naughty variety, you will be so happy with both.

Thank you so much for this post...because yes.

joann said...

Oh, if we only knew then what we know now....

Awesome post! I just turned 40 and let me just say there is some truth to the old "mid-life crisis" thing. We all have different levels of it, and luckily I feel like mine are pretty tame- but overall, I think a good old re-evaluation of our lives is good. I love your blog!

chirky said...

HAPPPYYYY BIRRRTTHHDAAYYYYYYY.

Also? I'm wondering what 35-year-old Lena would write to 30-year-old Lena.

MamaLee said...

Happy Birthday, sweet girl.

LOVE this post. I think we should all take a crack at writing to our former selves. You just do it a LOT better than most.

XOXO

sam said...

What a GREAT post! I love it!!

Happy Birthday Girl! You deserve it! (I mean for it to be happy, not to be 30... err... nevermind.)

My Buddy Mimi said...

Now if I could just get you to go back in time and tell me what to do. Brutally honest and funny is the best combination.

NotAMeanGirl said...

Happy Birthday Girl! The 30's are just FAB! I hope you have a great year!

Miguelina. said...

Happy birthday you talented woman.

Nancy said...

This post is AMAZING. I love it.

Happy Birthday, 30!

Love,
37 (Nancy)

Kathy said...

Happy Birthday!
Here's to hoping 31 year old Lena is saying things like "I can't believe you can contort your body in such ways and sustain a 3 hour orgasm like that... way to go!"

Anonymous said...

Damn... can we go back to April and do that post for me? LOL
Happy Birthday- YOU ROCK
Welcome to the Dirty Thirties :)
Becki

Lena said...

I think I'm going to continue referring to myself as "30 Year Old Lena". For fun.

katie said...

Lena! I totally forgot we talked about your 30th being imminent at the W...you have such a gift with words. This brought tears to my eyes. Have an incredible birthday - here's hoping that your 30s continue to bring you all life has to offer (even artichoke dip!)

chris said...

happy birthday, 30 year old lena.

Laural Dawn said...

Happy Birthday!!!
I love your blog and probably don't comment enough. But, so much of what you said here I needed to hear for myself. It was beautiful.

Mom101 said...

Oh if only. My kingdom for a time machine.

Happy happy Lena. I can't wait to see what 40 you says to 30 you.

Michelle Smiles said...

Great post!
Happy Birthday!

Jennifer aka Binky Bitch said...

Amazing post. Truly!

Happy birthday! Your 30's will be great! Mine are far superior to my 20's.

Rubberbacon said...

Happy Birthday Lena!

I'm a new reader (compliments to jennsylvania). I love your writing, even though today's post made me cry - but in a good, remember my own dad and appreciate your wording kind of way.

Good luck with 30!

Frema said...

The only piece of advice I take offense to is the one about laying off the artichoke dip. Then again, the dip and I, we are BFFs.

Awesome letter. Happy Birthday!

Much More Than A Mom said...

Fabulous! Welcome to the 30's. They rock. Really.

anne at annenahm.com said...

This is a truly wonderful post. I will tell you what my aunt told me that her mother told her. Thirties are so much better than twenties. When I was twenty? Thought that was just wishful thirtying from the perspective of sagging boobs and such. But really, thirties are so much more incredibly better than twenties. And my twenties? One big partay.

Thanks for the wonderful post.

Mrs. Chicky said...

Dear 30 year old Lena,

Happy Birthday! You look fantastic, even with ponytails.

Love,
A blog friend

Butrfly4404 said...

Absolutely amazing.

Happy birthday!!

superblondgirl said...

That post was perfect. Absolutely beautiful. Can you write me some advice letters, too? Because 27 here could sure use your help. Somebody's help.

Heather said...

Happy Birthday! I just turned 30 two days ago and wrote something similar to myself, not to blog, who would be so bold? :) Happy Birthday girl!

Janelle said...

Awesome post.

28 days and counting for me.

Holy shit. It's actually happening.

Anonymous said...

Dear 20-29 Year Old Lena,
Don't do anything differently. Life has taught you lessons that made you the friend, niece, mom, daughter and wife you are today.
I love you and I thank your mom for giving me a friend all those years ago.
Happy 30th...
Smom

Day to Day Chronicles said...

That was wonderful. And very thought provoking. Happy birthday. It just gets better after 30.

Heather said...

Lena,

You are so crazy-brilliant. I love this and it just makes me like you even more.

Just a fantastic post. Awesome.

I may copy you when I hit 30 next year.

Tessie said...

Wonderful post. Happy, happy, birthday (and many more!)!

Kristabella said...

I'm delurking to say Happy Birthday!

My 30th is in 5 weeks and I hope you don't mind, I might borrow this idea.

Great post!

Anonymous said...

OMG! That was so great. I turn 30 in 24 days (whos counting!) I am having such issues with it that I can't even talk about it. But I love the idea of writing letters to myself about all the wonderful/stupid things I've done. Maybe it will make me stop telling people I am turning 21 instead of 30 :)

Wendy said...

Happy Birthday! What an awesome post. I love your blog, you inspire me.
30 year olds can have birthday cake for breakfast, you know.
Have a wonderful day!

Kelly said...

Happy Birthday!

Alias Mother said...

Welcome to the 30s. They are awesome. We'll show you the secret handshake later.

If I were to give my younger self some advice, it would be the same every year. "Stop playing it so safe, dammit."

Sadly, that still applies, because I'm still doing it! We never learn, do we?

Shash said...

Happy Birthday Lena!!!

This was wonderful, what a great way to reaffirm where you are and where you are going. Beautiful to read.

Hey...what's this about artichoke dip? I LOVES me some artichoke dip... :)

Have a great day Lena!

Shash

Marcia said...

Lena:

You = Perfect.

Happy happy!!

DianaCLT said...

I MISSED IT?!?
I check your blog daily, and yet, the one day I don't...I miss your birthday?!? Aaack!
Lena - I hope you are still celebrating. And I wish you the happiest year of your life!
The 30s are spectacular. I know who I am in my 30s. I have the family I created with my soulmate in my 30s. I have more and better friends in my 30s than ever before. And I'm strong enough and smart enough to realize when to let go of unhealthy relationships and situations (well...99% of the time, anyway ;)).
As for you? Same as above, I have no doubt. You KNOW who you are! You have a wonderful husband and daughter! You have admirers and friends the world over!
Here's to 30! Cheers!

Lena said...

How am I going to get any work done when you guys keep making me cry??

Don't stop being you, Internet.

Missie said...

Can't wait to see what 36 writes to you.

Happy Birthday a day late.

Hope you like your new stylist better.

Missie

NotAMeanGirl said...

Here's a Birthday present for you! MeMe on the loose!!! (I know you've probably already done this one but I'm taggin ya anyway... cause I Lurve ya!)

http://meangirlsneednotapply.blogspot.com/2007/08/tales-of-weird-and-unknown.html

g-mama said...

Lena - WOW! That was some powerful stuff. I've been following your blog for about 6 months and have never commented before. Your writing is so right on and wonderfully honest. But this one was just beyond.

Welcome to the 30's. I've been hangin' out here for awhile now and it's definitely better than the 20's.

Kristen (37)

5150 Knitwit said...

Lena-
You Rule! I think you are very brave to go back and look at the past decade. You have inspired me to do the same. I have been 30 for 6 months now and I can tell you it is just the beginning of a wonderful new chapter in life.
Have an extraordinary and memorable birthday!

verybadcat said...

Happy birthday, one day late. I hope that in a few years I handle this with the grace and elegance that you have. You're aging like a fine wine. :)

Beth said...

Happy Birthday! Can't wait to follow you on your adventures as an older woman! ;)

Working Mom said...

Simply brilliant!

Happy Birthday

heather said...

Happy Birthday! I hope your 30s are good to you.

Suburban Turmoil said...

This is why I love you.

Annie said...

Delurking to say...Happy Birthday!

What a wonderful post. I love how insightful it is without being sappy or overblown. You said so much with so little.

I recently turned 27, and I already feel like there is so much I could tell my early 20s self. I can't wait to see what my 30-year-old self will want to tell my current self.

Anonymous said...

Priceless decade in review. Relax Lena- it just keeps getting better! Celebrate all of it!

Sarah said...

I just turned 30 yesterday. Your words have made me finally (FINALLY!) stop crying and start thinking about how great it is to have already learned all these lessons.

Tere said...

Welcome to 30! Now that I've been here 11 whole days longer than you have, I can say, with full authority - it's pretty neat!

Anonymous said...

I'm a fairly new reader, and with this post, a huge new admirer. What a lovely letter to yourself, Lena. I am sorry about your flooded rental house and your confused cat and oh, the humanity, honey... I am TRULY sorry about the coupon clipping. Poverty sucks wind. I wish you a very happy belated birthday, and just because I *can*, I'd like to invite you to spend your 31st birthday, this time next year, on my sofa. That doesn't sound like much of an invite till you consider that my couch is in Hawai`i, my husband is a killer cook and mighty fine bartender, and we live 15 minutes from Waimea Bay on the North Shore. We can even show you the locked gates that lead to the Lost compound! Y'all come.

Meemo said...

This is the best post I've ever read.

Hope your birthday was great!

Carrie said...

I just started reading, and I'm so glad!

I loved this post. Thanks for sharing.

Lena said...

Anon - WHICH DATES IN AUGUST '08 WOULD YOU LIKE ME TO COME??

Sheen' of Diaper Harlem said...

This is a really cool idea for a post. Very creative and I loved it!
I am new here and I really like your blog! I'll be back!

Sheen' of Diaper Harlem said...

p.s. Happy 30th!
I just did that one too!

Sleepynita said...

I love this post, someday I may write myself a few letters too...

Anamika said...

ahhh...the power of hindsight...this was funny, sad, sweet, wise and witty all rolled into one!

Jenn said...

Jesus.

This post moved me in ways that I cannot put into words.

So heartbreakingly beautiful.

I'm saving the link so that I can click on it forever.

Guess it's my gift for attending your party.

Seriously? Amazed.

Whymommy said...

Love. This. Thanks for sharing it with all of us!

Happy Birthday!

AmandaD said...

Would that we all could have a guide, whispering now, rather than later.

Beautiful. You just made me let some shit go. Truly.

Anonymous said...

Wow, I loved your post, it so perfectly summed up how I feel. I just passed the 30 mark 5 days ago and feel a little more validated. Anyways, I wrote this story about being 'Almost 30' about 8 months ago proof that Im still learning everyday. I wish I knew what to tell myself now
-Salma


http://divinecaroline.com/article/24133/23782

Omaha Mama said...

It is a perfect post. Sububurban Turmoil just honored you, and rightly so. I'm turning 30 in a few short weeks and also find myself reflecting on my 20's. But I can't seem to put it into any words. Well done you.

so grateful to be Mormon! said...

wow, this was awesome just AWESOME what you did and wrote here. it was all so great. so glad lani (wooden porch) had your post on her blog, so i had to come look.

wow, thanks for doing this, you really made me think.

blessings to you this day,
kathleen

Anonymous said...

I'm going to print this out and use it in my next 30th birthday card. Thanks!

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