Five-Minute Conversation

If you could go back in time and have a 5 minute conversation with yourself ten years ago, what would you say?


Ten years ago, I had just moved to Los Angeles from Boston. I had been a resident of Los Angeles for only a month and a half. I was having a really bad year, which came on the heels of two really bad years in Boston, but those years were horrible in a much different way. In February 2001, I was unemployed and poor, and would remain so for nearly another year. I didn’t have any friends other than my best friend with whom I moved clear across the country. It was the two of us against the world and the world specifically had its sights set on us. Los Angeles was busy doing everything in its power to make sure that we knew we were not welcome. It said, “Go home, little girls. You are not wanted here.” We tried to ignore it as best we could, but the message was crystal clear.

If I could have a five-minute conversation with myself then, I would tell 2001 me that things do get better. I would tell me not to give up; if you can survive the first year eating ramen noodles and government cheese, you will find a new life for yourself that is better than anything you could have imagined while you were slowly withering away in Boston. You made the right decision in moving across the country. You had to get away from those omnipresent, niggling reminders and start fresh for a second time.

I would tell 2001 me to stick with it and I will find the best friends in the entire world. I will find the kind of friends that I never thought possible. I will find people, not too long from now, that accept me for everything that I am and would gladly take a bullet for me and I would do the same. I would tell me to persevere in the face of what seemed like insurmountable odds at the time because things do get a whole lot better.

However, I would also tell myself that I need to start forgiving myself now. Do not let all the horrible things in your past eat away at you forever. Don’t keep them all bottled up inside or you will fritter away another decade not fixing anything. I know its scary confronting all of those demons and you’d rather not do it at all, but start dealing with them right now and you will be better for it. Don’t wait for them to go away on their own, because they won’t, but don’t beat yourself up about it either. Take it at your own pace, but start making a better version of yourself now.

From where I sit in 2011, our situation is a whole lot better than it was in 2001. We have a nice house, we start a pretty good job tomorrow, we have awesome friends and we write every day. Yes, 2001 me, you are a writer. Start believing that. Have a little faith in yourself and it will all come in good time. We will work our way through all of the hardship and continue to live. Nothing too terribly horrible happens to you in the next ten years, at least nothing that you can’t overcome. You can stop waiting for the other shoe to drop. Yes, you will get your heart smashed to pieces again. You will experience some difficulty and pain, but nothing quite as bad as what you are going through right now. It’s all temporary. You can survive all of it, just as you always have.

I wouldn’t tell 2001 me this, but I’m glad that I’m no longer her. She was not living in enviable circumstances. However, I am a little jealous of the fact that everything is new to her. She gets to experience the feeling of navigating one of the biggest cities in the United States. Ten years later, it’s all old hat to me, but for her, it’s all fresh, new and rife with possibility. Sometimes, if I close my eyes and concentrate, I can recapture that feeling a little bit, but it’s just not the same. 2001 me was an intrepid explorer carving out a new life for herself in uncharted territory. She doesn’t give herself enough credit for taking that leap. Sometimes, I miss that feeling of newness and possibility, but 2011 me knows that it’s not about the location, it’s about what is on the inside. All of us are free to make anything we want of ourselves, to reinvent ourselves, any time we choose. 2001 me has that opportunity thrust upon her and she doesn’t take it for granted.