You know every time you hear someone your age calling you that, you raise your brow and get defensive but when someone older uses it, you grin a little. So here goes, kiddo, 23-year old me, a few things you don't want really want to hear from the 33-year old me.
Learn the art of NO in it's most simple, elegant, non-explanatory existence. It's not about letting someone else down or feeling like it won't get done if you're not there to slave over it, it's about you. It's about listening to your heart and your body and giving yourself a little bit of that time you're so willing to always give to someone else. One day when you grimace through exhausted eyes and a weary soul at the "selfish" people, you'll come to recognize that they aren't selfish, they're self-aware and they know how to practice the art of NO with grace and confidence. Say no, my dear, and say yes to yourself.
Stop working so much. Although your genuine passion for work far exceeds your good sense right now, one day you'll wonder what happened to a decade of weekends and dates gone by. There will be a handful of occasions you'll wish you didn't work your life through and there won't be enough money or rooms full of possessions that will make up for that time.
Speaking of passion, remember what makes your young heart beat. Music, words, writing, photography, powerful movies that highlight the beautiful parts of life. Don't get trapped in the mires of your everyday. Don't let the tragedy of this thing we call life paint a picture that is full of shadows. Let it go. Take off your headset and drown it out with words and life and sunlight and music and great food and lots of laughs. You're going to get off course, maybe not all the time, but sometimes you'll forget to come back to the middle. You won't get it now, but you'll get it after this great man is gone from the earth and you watch his work to understand why he will be so missed. This is how you come back to the middle, young lady.
Let love in. Just do it. Let someone love you, and not just from a distance. Don't be afraid to get your heart broken. Put out of your mind that you could never date that kind of guy, or be that sort of girlfriend, or survive that kind of love. You'll box yourself in, you'll blind yourself to the perfect imperfections of the ones who might be the exact mirror you've been looking for. Don't forget to love yourself a little too.
Move your body. Dance, do yoga, run, sweat, bend, shift, gyrate, just shake it off. Someday in the future you'll find yourself shaking and sweating and wondering why you never thought you were strong enough to run in a relay or hold a pose or climb a steep hill, and you'll love it. Then you'll lose it and wonder if you'll ever recover from pushing your body too far and you'll realize that you forgot to say no and your body said it for you. It's a hard lesson, it's painful and it will drop you to your knees and keep you up at night, but the beauty of it all is that you can still move. And all it takes is to move little and then you can move big, but you'll never lose as long as you're still moving.
Move yourself, Love.
Find your sexy. Not your slutty. Not your sleazy. Not your trying too hard. Find your own version of sexy. It's not what you think it is. It's confidence. It's subtle. It's comfortable in your own skin. It's genuine. It's your shoulder peeping out your shirt. It's the way you bite your lip when you don't even know you're doing it. It's the way you grin and tilt your head with that telling stare. It's when something surprises you and you let that ever present guard down and that little squeak of surprise or fright comes out of the girl who is always prepped for the worst. Get comfortable with yourself. Get comfortable with the one body and face you were given in this lifetime.
You are more beautiful than you realize. Don't forget that.
PS - my dear sweet, you're 6 days late into this journey, but you're here. Welcome home. Welcome back to your keyboard and your 3am.