Letter to my 20-year-old self

Dear Nicole,

I don’t know how to say this without just… saying it. You are about to go through a lot of shit. Plain and simple. If my math is correct, you’re about to get pregnant (again) pretty soon, and trust me; you’re not even close to being over the last pregnancy. You’re going to be a mother, and this is going to change the entire trajectory of your life. Whatever you think you have planned right now, just forget it. And no matter what anyone says… you’re going to turn out great.

You’re going to make some life choices that are going to put you in some challenging situations. Most of them are going to involve boys.  You are looking for attention, approval, and what you think is love in all of the wrong places.  The awesome thing is, God will always be there. He already loves you, has forgiven you and has prepared a path for you that will lead you to your purpose. There’s definitely a reason why you’re here. I’m going to admit, I’m still not sure what that reason is, but I think I’m closer to figuring it out for us.

I want you to know that I’m proud of you. You did an amazing job with the hand you were dealt. You had an extremely bumpy start at life, and you’re not always willing to admit this. Being molested didn’t serve you well. You want to be strong, so talking about your past isn’t something you do. Depression and anxiety sneak in and take over, but you don’t recognize them. You chalk it up to being tired. You have no idea why you’re sweating, hyperventilating and feeling as though your heart is going to come out of your chest. You don’t know depression or anxiety exist. You only know that you feel bad. I want you to know that someday you will talk about all of this, and it will make you feel much better. You will slowly learn to release the hurt and fear that often paralyzes you. You will become stronger, braver, louder, better, and even more awesome.

I wish someone would’ve told you not to get that Discover card at the college bookstore that one time, or not to take out all those student loans. And not to let strangers into your bachelorette pad, and not to date guys based on their nice smile/eyes/teeth, and not to pay attention to people who don’t like how small you are. But then, you would’ve never learned how to properly use credit. Or that when people steal all of your stuff (even your GOLDFISH), you will get it all back, and even better the next time around. You wouldn’t have your handsome son, the one you’re about to be pregnant with soon. We are still working on the whole body image thing.

You and your newborn son will live with a family you met through church after you lose your main means of transportation, resulting in the loss of your job, and the subsequent need to move out of your apartment. Your father won’t allow you to live back home. You’re going to think this is the lowest you can ever be. No money for food, diapers, a roof over your son’s head. You feel the consequences of the choices you’ve made. You blame yourself. Your dad tells you, “it’s all your fault”, and you’re sure that it is.

At this moment I wish I could’ve told you that one day, you’re going to get married. You’re going to have 4 amazing children. You’re going to go to college and graduate. Twice. You’re going to own two homes, and a car that fits your growing family. You’re going to have an awesome dog that listens to nothing you say but loves you more than anything. You’re going to design your own furniture (after the home you built floods and has to be completely remodeled). Again, you will lose everything, and gain so much more. You will cry, you will stay in bed all day, skip showers and not wash your hair. You will refuse to eat and finally be formally diagnosed depression with that eating disorder you were hiding for all these years. You will find a counselor; or rather, God will send you one. And you will begin to heal. I know this all sounds absurd while you’re sitting there, trying to decide what to do with your life. You’re young yet and have a lot of life left to live.

Slow down. Stay strong. Be brave. Work hard. Stay focused. Eat well. Drink water. Take care of your body. Call your mother. Talk to someone about your problems. Believe that God has His hand in everything you do. It’s about to get rough, but things are going to get better.

See you around…