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A Letter to My 24 Year Old Self

April 22nd, 2013 · No Brilliant Opinions · Random Things That Make Me Smile

Happy BirthdayToday I turn 49. The years have been long and harsh and kind. Sort of like a sour lollipop with the sweet gooey gum in the middle. Its hard to believe a quarter of a century has passed and with it the angst of my 20s, the self discovery of my 30s and the now the last of the she-warrior years of my 40s. This is my letter to my 24 year old self.

Dear Ann,

Twenty five years ago you were a young woman in the third year of medical school, unsure of your future and where you fit in the world. Medicine was still a profession largely dominated by the old boys club. Female faculty were few and far between and mentors for women of color in medicine … oh well.

When I was 24, I wish someone had told me … no I wish I had told myself these 10 things.

1. Nuture your spirit. Go to church. Have hobbies.  Give back. Medicine is a jealous mistress and its good to maintain outside interests.
2. Misery loves company. Lose the negative thoughts and the negative friends.
3. Think outside the box. Whatever you choose to do, do it with a little panache and creativity. Be different.
4. You’re too skinny.
5. Be your own best friend.
6. Be careful. As Gloria Steinem said, “Its a woman hating world.”
7. If it sounds unbelievable – don’t believe it.
8. Trust your gut. Humans are probably the only creatures that sense fear and danger and will venture towards it.
9. Pray on it.

When I was in my early 30s and starting my first real job, I engaged a community based women’s health organization and planned a fundraiser for them at a Brooklyn art gallery. I hired a caterer to prepare hors d’oeuvres. The caterer was a middle aged woman who cooked like it was nobody’s business, ran a top notch restaurant and was a single mother. To me she was a goddess.

She peppered me with questions- but not about the food order. Was I single? (welp!) Did I have children (no – only a few eggs left!)
I told her that I was waiting for the “one.” That I wouldn’t have children without him. She looked at me and said in a tone that was neither stern or jovial, “He’s not coming.”

I remember feeling like all the air was being sucked out of me. He’s not coming. He’s not coming. He’s not coming.

It took me years to learn lesson #10.

Don’t let other people steal your joy. Turns out he was coming. But if he hadn’t I would have been okay, because in the end, I’m responsible for my own happiness.

Twenty five years has taught me to stay positive and be my own best friend. Cheers to the journey.

Be blessed,

The 49 year old you.

What advice do you have for your younger self?

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