Things I Learned at 27

A Letter to Myself on the Eve of my 28th Birthday

You, and only you, are responsible for your own emotions. When your heart is aching and you are waiting for someone else to heal it, you will realize that you are the only person that can give yourself the closure you so desperately desire. Walking down that rainy street in some New York City borough and having the grace to let someone go, to close a door completely, to be willing to break your own heart — this will be a small but life-altering lesson.

There is such a thing as a relationship with steaming hot chemistry and absolutely zero compatibility. Don’t spend too much time here. Bending yourself to be someone you are not will never be the way. Romanticizing dysfunction does not a love story make. Having imaginary conversations and playing out scenarios like a playwright in your head will not help you. You will only hurt your own feelings. You should not have to lay on the couch with crystals on you before you see someone or sing mantras to calm your beating heart. If you’re doing that, run the opposite way. Your energy, time, and space are sacred. Treat them as such.

Writing will save your life. Those early mornings, dark black coffee, endless journal entries, meticulous notes, and the same songs on repeat will add up to something. You will write a book and then have absolutely no clue what to do with it. This will not feel like a big deal, because writing it changed you, saved you, made you whole again. During the first few months, you will think you are writing a love story about a guy. When you revise the second draft you will realize it’s a love story about the relationship you have with yourself. It is also a love letter to your best friend. You will call her crying to tell her this. The greatest loves of your life are the women who have helped guide you, inspire you, and shape you. Never forget what it feels like to be loved and seen by them.

Sometimes, even when you have something to say, it is better to be quiet and listen.

Boundaries are where you begin and end. When others aim to hurt you, intentionally or otherwise, it is a reflection of their wounds, not your worth. A boundary does not mean you are cold, calculating, or cutting someone off. It means only communicating when you are loving and holding yourself first; when you are able to align yourself with grace and humility. When you refuse to make yourself smaller, or bigger. You do not need to explain everything. “No” is a complete sentence.

When you feel anxiety flooding your system, causing you to clench your jaw, wake up in sweats, and shake uncontrollably — suck on an ice cube. Drive down the highway going a hundred miles an hour and scream. Go to the ocean. You will do these things. You will try to sweat it out. Run it out. Talk it out. But ultimately, the best (and only) thing to do is feel it, and let it wash over you. You can feel your emotions, without becoming your emotions. Give yourself permission to do all of this imperfectly.

Living in your own home for the first time, you will realize just how important this idea of home, of roots, really is. You will have to contend with your wild spirit that wants to be on the go and the nurturing nature that calls you to plant roots. This is a place for you to learn and grow in the years to come.

On a hot summer night, wearing damp pajama shorts and flip-flops and your hair akimbo on your head, a new seed will be planted. You will learn that all that drama you once associated with love was actually just that — drama. There will be moments when your heart and head have to catch up with your intuition. Learning how to love and be loved in this all-encompassing way will shift everything you thought you knew about what it means to love yourself, to love others, and to be loved in this life.

You are safe here. Vulnerability is the precursor to expansion. You get to choose how you show up to every single moment of your life; with this comes great responsibility.

Pastimes include playing with words, using my passport, and eating croissants. A writer of all things gender, culture, and travel.

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