Your 20’s are full of pretending, rearranging, and being clueless in professional settings. You’re studying to be a doctor, but on Friday nights you’re the anchor in flip cup. Everyone’s screaming when you tie with the girl across from you, especially her. In the heat of the moment it’s so hard not to be happy. You’re a few beers in at a Sam Hunt concert with your friends, and when you turn around from hugging the 8th grade girls in front of you, all of your friends are wearing sunglasses and there’s no explanation as to why.
Murder, betrayal, anxiety, It’s hard to believe someone like you faced those kinds of fires and lived to tell. But here you are. When I was 14 one of my older sisters life long friends told me that if I still hated someone, I needed to call them, and if I couldn’t forgive them, I had to reach out and fix it. I’ve hoped for a long time that I could be the person who faced their fires.
If you never look around and think “what a time to be alive” or “how did I get so lucky? Then I pray you will one day. But maybe right now, you need to look around and pay attention. Before you can turn around and see all your friends in sunglasses, life is going to show you who your friends are, and before you know it, you’ll know who you are.
If you’re miserable, I hope you come to a place where you realize you’ve just forgotten. And hold on to hope that you will remember what made sense before. I hope you won’t stop fighting until you remember. And I hope this time you write it down, and save it for your future self. I hope you’ll be able to tell your future kids that the task is to remember what life drowned out from your mind. To recall what life tried to distract you from. Your job is to never stop searching. No matter how many times you forget what it is that gets you through.
I hope you forgive the man who made you promises you still think about. I hope you forgive the way you want to be forgiven, if God forbid one day you hurt someone, or find yourself in a place like he was. I hope you look at everyone around you and learn from them. I hope you love your friends despite your differences, their weaknesses, and the hurt they may cause. I hope you can take grief and make it something honorable. I hope you don’t just get the tattoos to remember people, but you live life and honor them everyday by being happy, compassionate, and strong.
I hope you aren’t afraid to work your tail off and lose fair and square. I hope you’re not afraid of anything, at some point, and if you still carry fear with you, I hope you find moments of peace. I hope you yell when you win flip cup, I hope you make a new friend who grabs you a solo cup and pours you a beer. I hope you take tae kwon do and hug random people at concerts. I hope if by now you want the world to be a better place, you’ll volunteer. I hope you’ll confidently take both hands, and use them for the greater good.
I hope you’ll tell your players or your cheerleaders under the lights on Friday not to fear failure. And that everyone fears falling apart. I hope instead of explaining to them that if they cannot rebuild their life and themselves into something more beautiful and meaningful than the one you remember, that life will keep challenging them, and knocking them down until they fight through it – you’ll show them a life where fighting for it is second nature, and not a choice. I hope you tell them they can do this. And to take both hands and start painting, start rearranging, start moving, start lifting, start looking for what makes you thankful for everything because of what it taught you, and because you were lucky enough to experience it. If you fear failing and falling so much, that’s exactly what you need to do. Nothing will teach you more, or lead you to more success than your failures. I hope you can say this to someone else who needs to hear it.
At the end of your days I hope if you were to write a book, it would be on how to be happy – even when your world is truly in a desperate state of transition or stand still. I would like to believe we learn in our 20’s how to find joy after facing misery, and I believe all the years of smiling when you really wanted to punch someone, have taught you more than the days when everything went well and it didn’t feel like the world was against you.
I hope when it’s your turn to give back to this world, every disappointment, every friend you’ve had to say goodbye too, every fender bender, and rough Sunday morning taught you how to help someone else. I hope your life goes on through others when you are finished here. I hope people will remember you, whether you are killed at 17 or die of old age. I hope you take the time to enjoy the fresh air of fall and smile in pictures. I hope while you’re here, – you’ll leave the best things about you, behind, with those you love. I hope you’ll look back at your life and smile. All in, all out.