Anne Taite Vogeleer
Global Client Services Manager
Richmond, VA

Illustration by
Rachel Suen

Hey you,

When I think about being 25, it's mostly with fondness - lots of schoolwork, both for your teaching job and the Masters you just started, many fun nights out with friends, and perhaps (okay, most definitely) a few crushes along the way. But I know it was challenging too. Taking responsibility for your choices, financially planning for the future, and navigating relationships - all created anxiety. I can't wipe away that uncertainty in this letter, and honestly, it wouldn't matter if I could. You can't skip over lessons learned, but I can assure you that more sun than clouds are up ahead.

When you were 18, Dad wrote a letter to you as you headed off to college. It was expectedly filled with good counsel about the importance of good grades and the perils of drugs and alcohol. But there were pieces of the letter in which he imparted advice that still rings true at 25 or today at 34. I hope you'll re-read this letter now and remember what he told you then: "Save some kindness for yourself."

You have a funny way of being self-assured and completely insecure at the same time. Often, the volatility of how quickly you swing between the two is staggering. Despite your accomplishments and the love and support of friends and family, you are incredibly hard on yourself. You look at the world through empathic eyes, but don't do the same for yourself. You are smart; you are pretty; you are a good friend. Believe in what Dad wrote. Believe me. Believe you.

In the next few years you'll shed the long-seeded negative opinions you have of who you are, and as you do, new opportunities will open. I wish I could pinpoint the moment when this happened for you - when you decided to love yourself as yourself. It might have had a lot to do with meeting someone who saw you for who you are. He might not be wearing a collared shirt or care about the score of last night's game, but he's funny, driven, loyal, and incredibly kind. You will build a home together - one that even takes you abroad - and one that eventually adds another member. I'm looking a bit into the future myself, but I have a strong feeling that you'll fall even more in love when you see him hold your baby for the first time.

All in all, you will realize that relationships take work, but it doesn't have to be hard. When it's hard, when there's drama, there is a reason. Trust your instincts.

A few other tidbits: Don't overlook how important friendships are to making you feel complete. You're a classic extrovert, getting energized and refueled by being around others. Take the extra effort to stay in touch with friends far away, but don't take it personally when some friendships fade. Try new activities until you find a hobby or two that sticks. Cook healthier meals. Start running - I promise you'll take to it and eventually find yourself talking about marathons. Don't take yourself too seriously (advice I still have to be reminded of). Keep journaling. You'll want to re-read it some day and remind yourself of where you've been on the way to becoming who you are.

Stay you,

Your 34-year-old-self

July 2013