I’ve taken on the challenge of writing a letter to myself at age 25 knowing what I do now that I wish I knew back then.
You have just turned 25 years old. You are in the last semester of your Master’s degree program in New York City.
The world is a blank canvas for you to write your own story and discover who you are meant to be.
I am writing you from 18 years in the future. You’re now 43 and have lived an inspired but challenging, rollercoaster ride of a life.
Without giving too much away of what’s to come, you’ll soon learn you’re blessed to be surrounded by an almost infinite amount of love. This constant force in your life, unconditional love, will support and guide you.
Congratulations on setting yourself up with an exceptional education. Your parents value knowledge and sent you to Stanford University and Columbia University to prepare you for your career.
Your nerdiness will pay off. You will be given exciting new opportunities – more than you can pursue. You will need to make important choices.
Having experienced your fair share of success in your first 25 years of life, I have some advice for your for the next 20 years or so.
Approach Life As A Journey Not a Race
There is no need to rush. There is no official finish line and life has more than one winner. Viewing life as a journey will encourage you to enjoy the entire ride with all its ups and downs. Savor your personal odyssey of self-discovery and personal growth.
Know When To Ask For Help
Make decisions using your instincts and your intellect. Seek guidance from your parents and mentors. You may feel grown up living in Manhattan, but your elders have far more wisdom than you’ve been able to acquire by studying all those academic books.
Be Prepared For Life to Not Go As Planned – Embrace Change
At 25, you are at a major crossroads in your life – completing your higher education and deciding on a career path. After graduation with a Master’s in Public Health, you with make an unplanned decision that significantly alters the course of your life and career path.
You will choose a career path in business over medicine. Working at McKinsey, a prestigious management consulting firm, you’ll end up being an expert in Marketing and Strategy. This choice takes you away from your childhood dream of becoming a doctor like your mother.
Mourn the loss of the dream of being Dr. Ann. You have spent the last 18 years preparing, studying, and hoping to be a physician, a healer. There will be days when you long to turn back time and make a different choice. Come to peace with your decision. On these days of self-doubt, stay true to your beliefs and follow your heart in whatever career you pursue. Purpose and passion will always find you.
Learn to Live Outside Your Comfort Zone
Your new job will stretch you and challenge you in ways you are not comfortable or confident. Attend to your weaknesses and vulnerabilities. Do not fear failure. Become better because of it.
Your social circle will evolve to reflect the cultural potpourri that is Manhattan. Keep your open mind and welcome new and different people into your life. You will learn volumes from your friends from other walks of life.
Feed Your Soul Rather Than Your Ego
Stay true to your core values, beliefs, and passions. Strive to find inner self-worth. Seek personal validation instead of external accolades. Measure your success in life by your happiness rather than by material symbols like job titles, salary, or type of car you drive.
Never Give Up – Don’t Ever
You will never fail if you never stop trying. Throughout your life, you will make some mistakes. You will need to start over, begin a new path, chart a new course, learn from your missteps, and become a better person. Turn challenges into opportunities.
Each time you fall down, put everything you have into getting back up. Learn to let go and forgive yourself for mistakes in the past. Let go of worries and expectations for the future. Live your life to the fullest with each present moment.
Replace Want With Gratitude
You have always been very goal-oriented fiercely chasing your dreams and desires. Your passion for wanting more and to be more is admirable. Please also remember to take stock in all that you already have and focus on what you have instead of what you are without.
Cultivating gratitude will teach you contentment. Accept that you don’t always need more. You have enough. You are enough.
Love Really Does Conquer All
Your relationships will be the best things in your life. Relationships with family, partners, and friends will be rewarding and make you feel good.
When you fall in love, love deeply, honestly, and wholeheartedly. Find a partner to experience life with, to grow up with, to cry with, to laugh with, to overcome challenges with, to live happily ever after with.
Your parents’ unconditional love will be the one constant thing in your whirlwind life. You can always count on your family. When times get tough, it will be their love that pulls you through. Cherish this love.
Enjoy your 20s, 30s, and 40s, a beautiful journey awaits you.
I love you,
(Age 43, living in Bangkok, Thailand)