Dear 23 Year-Old Me

IMG_482743 seems like a really long time away, doesn’t it?

It’s not.

Just when things start to get interesting, life has a funny way of speeding up on you.  But don’t worry.  Things turn out pretty good.  Better than good, actually.  Nothing like you expected, but one of the great things about being older is being able to appreciate that sometimes the things you think you want are not necessarily the things that are best for you.

Things won’t always feel so pregnant with importance, so laden with intensity.  There will come a time when you will shed that cloak of darkness, layer by layer, without realizing you are doing it.  And you will be happy.  Knowing what makes you happy, and what doesn’t, is another perk of getting older.  The small stuff, the petty stuff?  That’s easy to leave by the side of the road while you motor on toward something that really matters.

Even though right now you are making mental lists of male friends who would be willing to donate sperm in case you are single and childless, there are going to be men who love you.  And there is going to be one who stands head and shoulders above the rest, one who doesn’t need to be a knight in shining armor because you will have stopped needing rescuing.   Which is why it all works.

You will realize that driving a fancy car or having a lot of money in the bank isn’t as important as losing yourself in a good book or spending time with family.  Being a size 6 and having a perky ass won’t be as important as enjoying a good bottle of wine with your husband, though the middle age spread thing does necessitate finding balance.  Understanding that life is about balance is another perk of age.  You will realize the people who love you the most are the ones you can fart in front of.  The ones who you can laugh until you cry with, and who you can cry with until you laugh.

There are going to be things that you won’t be able to prepare for.  Sad things that will seep into your soul and stay with you, becoming a part of who you are.  Joyous things that will show you a depth of love you haven’t dreamt of yet.  There will be struggles and there will be pain, but there will be adventures and happiness and above all, love.

There will be gray hairs and crow’s-feet.  There will be laugh lines (stop smoking now, it will save you some wrinkles) and age spots.  There will be the beginnings of a bosom and middle age spread.   You will have to watch what you eat and as much as you hate it, exercise.  But there is also the awareness and confidence and joy that comes from knowing exactly who you are.  And as scary as gray hair and crow’s-feet seem now, when you weigh them all up, happiness from within tips the scale in your favor every, single time.

It’s hard to think that there will be a time when the things you fight for, those things that seem so life or death right now will fade a little, that their brightness will tarnish and patina just a bit.  But they get replaced by other things.  They get replaced by living your life.  Not the life that you imagine or dream about or struggle to attain, but your own life.  The one you lead every day.

Two final pieces of advice.  Buy the one bedroom apartment; New York City real estate is always a good bet.  Write the book.  It will haunt you if you don’t.

Happy 43rd.


14 thoughts on “Dear 23 Year-Old Me

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  1. Happy Birthday? Wise words of wisdom for your earlier self indeed. Might I suggest you also include a sentence about how the millennium bug (remember that total non-event) is a complete waste of everybody’s time. You might want to tell Dina-at-23 to buy up big on Tickle Me Elmo’s before the famous Christmas shortage in 1996, as well, when “the dolls’ short supply due to the unexpected demand led stores to increase their price drastically. Newspaper classifieds sold the plush toy for hundreds of U.S. dollars. People reported that the toy, originally sold at US $28.99, fetched as much as $1500.” Thanks, Wikipedia!


    1. Thank you. I would have to explain to 23 year old self about Wikipedia first of all. I did worry about the insider trading element involved with advising on stock options and maxing out the 401K. But must admit, the Tickle Me Elmo phenomenon slipped my addled and increasingly aging brain.


  2. Just finished reading this post and scrolled down to see…
    Is there something I should know?(Please, please tell me now…)

    Here it is…
    44 is actually even better than 43 ! so, look forward to it 🙂


    1. Thank you, Beth. I am finding it a little difficult owning up to my age, but I’m forcing myself to do it and along the way, recognize all the great things (while trying to forget the not so great things).


  3. well said. I have given little thought to the advice I would give a younger self. I might have to make a blog in response to this now 🙂


  4. Happy Birthday, Dina. I would send you some cheez doodles if I could stop eating them……… 🙂

    Your words are so true about how we change as we grow. I like myself so much more than I did at 23. I risk more. And yes, I’d rather share wine with MTM than not have any. 🙂


    1. I like myself much more now too. I also appreciate more expensive wine now too ;-). If I could change anything though, it would be the ability to continue to gorge on bags of Cheez Doodles and still fit into my jeans.


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