Girl Talk: Jessica’s Letter to Her Midlife Self

Last week, I wrote a letter to my 25 year old self with the promise that my 25 year old friend Jessica was going to write a letter to her 50 year old self. I’m going to let her letter speak for itself. I am personally moved to tears at this moment thinking of what dreams my 25 year old self had for me, realized and unrealized. Enjoy! And, to access her blog and keep up with her, find her at runmem.wordpress.com.

Dearest Jessica,

If you are reading this, congratulations!   You have made it to “mid-life.”  Your 25 year-old self is very curious about what your life is like as she sits here in a coffee shop in Austin, Texas with the path ahead of her completely open.  The possibilities and uncertainty are exhilarating and terrifying.  These past three months we have never felt so alone, confused, free or lost in our short life.  Don’t forget these days, they are shaping the person you are right now, and they were tough for you.  Fun, but tough (remember that when you encounter girls in their mid-twenties.  You may be looking at them thinking you know how to do it, but try to remember how confused and isolated by possibility you felt at this time in your life).  Give them a smile or words of encouragement because they are looking at you to show them they can make it.  And not only make it to 50 but thrive.

Some of Jessica’s “midlife” friends…me and Linda

I hope you’ve learned how to chop an onion.

I’m sure you’re possibly feeling old and maybe even a little senile but stop that.  You’ve had 25 additional years of life, a privilege denied to many.  I imagine the past 25 years have had some incredible celebrations and accomplishments.  Perhaps you’ve completed the goals I have for you at this moment in our life – to run a half-marathon in every state (we’re sittin’ pretty at 9 states right now), to write a book (not sure about what yet, but you’ve recently had a pretty fantastic love story you’d like to share) and to own your own business (preferably some sort of fitness facility – currently we’re exploring options).  If you have, I’m so proud of you and know that the discipline and hard work I’m developing right now are key to that success.   Additionally, I hope if you’ve completed those three goals, you’ve set new ones.  Never stop growing, learning, creating, exploring or moving.  Continue running around the world since you’ve conquered the country.  Open another location of your business.  Write a sequel.  I believe, and refuse to be told that it’s only because I’m naive and young, that we can do anything in this life, and we will do great things together.

You’re never too old to call mama, swing on a swingset.  Or go dancing.

But also, I know there’s probably a chance you got lost along the way.  Life happens and these next 25 years will be tough.  Chances are you’ve lost momsie or popsicle.  If you haven’t, call them today.  Call them now.  Maybe you injured yourself and had to give up running.  Maybe you had to fight through cancer and your business dreams were put on hold.  Maybe you moved away from Austin.  And moved again.  You always had sort of a wanderlusting spirit.  There’s a chance we never settled down long enough to start that business.  Maybe your prince charming never showed up to help you finish the story.  You are strong though, and a fighter.  Don’t give up, and remember, you’re the boss.

You’re never too young to start a savings account.

Or maybe you lassoed a cowboy and he talked you into having children.  Don’t lose your dreams in them.  If you did get married, go give your husband a big kiss – he’s a brave man for wanting to share your life with you – it’s a big one.  But he’s also lucky to have you and I hope you don’t settle for anything less than what you learned about love this past summer from the man you’ll never forget (and who knows, maybe it’s him).  Just remember, you believe in a great love story.  And you are the author.

Music moves you.

But enough about him, we are working hard now to be content with us – a battle that I’m certain will follow and haunt us through the next 25 years.  I’m sure 50 comes with its own set of self-doubt, beauty issues and comparison traps.  Embrace your gray.  Some of the most beautiful women in your young life have long, silver hair.  Keep getting your nails done.  We never were big on makeup, don’t start now – your smile is free and easy to put on.  Keep buying sexy underwear.  Even if there’s no one in your life to appreciate it but you.  It’s amazing the confidence that comes from matching black lace under jeans and a tee shirt.

Never stop learning.  Your girlfriends have always been more important to you than the boys.  Maybe there’s a special boy who has your heart now but don’t ever forget your girlfriends.  I hope, like your mother and several mentors before you, you make time to reunite with just the girls every year or two.  In some place exotic – taking time to do silly girly things like braid each others hair, talk about your husbands, boyfriends and lovers, dreams and fears and struggles, painting nails and eating chocolate along the way.

Don’t forget you like to climb to the tops of things (literally and metaphorically) – the view is always worth the 558 or 931 steps.

Jessica’s Memphis battalion

I’m an old soul so I’m fairly certain you and I will get along just fine.  At this young age I’ve already made friends with several women who have served as role models to demonstrate that it’s not a boring life just because you hit 5-0.  Remember these relationships – you have many excellent female role models in your life – your mama, the entrepreneurs you met in your 20s, and brilliantly fearless friends.  You can travel, you can love – yourself and your life and all those in it.  Release the fear.

Have you been to Spain yet?

If you’re feeling lost, come back to the free-spirited girl that’s writing you this letter.  Don’t let the world harden you.  Step away from the technology that I’m sadly sure is even more a part of daily routine.  Write a letter.  Set a coffee date with a friend.  Remember that we know the best path for ourself; trust it.  Remember that our family (friends included) is the most important thing in this life.  And remember to love yourself.  I am certain the next 25 years will be ripe with successes and failures.  Disappointments and big surprises.  Adventures and pleasures in the simple everyday life.  Find a porch swing, put your cowgirl boots on, ask someone to dance and kick some ass.

But no matter what, I know you’ve spread your love and grace to many in the past 25 years, and I hope the same for the next 25.  I’m looking forward to creating you.  And when in doubt, remember what Daddy (and Nike for that matter) said when he was 57 – “Just do it”.

Love,

Jess

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