Dear 20-Year Old Me

There’s a new book coming out based on a blog where people write letters to their teen selves called Dear Teen Me. I seriously considered writing to my teen self, but I’m pretty sure my Teen-Me-then won’t listen to the Old-Me-now anymore than she was willing to listen to any of the other Old-Them-thens who tried to talk some sense into her.

So, I decided I’d time-travel back to where it might do the most good.

Dear 20-year old Chloe,

Sweetheart, you’ve really done amazing so far considering that our teenaged self’s only goal was getting the hell out of our parents’ house. I think 17-year old us did as well as could be expected given the circumstances, and we both owe her a deep debt of gratitude for having the c0jones it took getting out.

Your decision to live with the Frenchman has been brilliant! He’s much better than our previous roommate. You remember him? The one who stayed up all night making homemade bullets?

The Frenchman has provided you with a finishing school education I doubt you could have gotten from homemade-bullet guy.

You’ve learned so much about the finer things in life–wine pairing, good table manners, eating steak RARE, and engaging in fascinating small talk while looking very, very pretty. These skills will serve you well the rest of your life.

But you are about to make our first real mistake, and it is going to be a doozy. You won’t realize how HUGE a mistake until it is much too late, and the rest of us will be left wondering for the rest of our life, “WHAT WAS SHE THINKING?

No, this isn’t about you trying to figure out if you’re a lesbian. You’re not, but go ahead and give that a try. Trust, me, your problem isn’t men. It’s you.

After you break-up with the Frenchman–sorry, but it’s coming soon, and it’s going to be ugly—you’ll have the option of living in the house in Mission Beach or moving in with this older man who will appear as though he were a knight on a white horse.

For God’s sake, DON’T GET ON THAT HORSE!

This one decision sets your feet on a path that will lead you into so much heartache. And the 50-year old me will be left scratching my head wondering why you made this decision. Your rent at the beach house will be impossibly cheap, and you’ll have a job where you can afford it. You don’t need to get on that horse!

The only remotely plausible excuse I can come up with is Princess Diana. But just because Diana is your age and marrying a guy a decade older than her doesn’t mean it is a good idea for you. Look, it isn’t going to go well for her, and it sure as shit isn’t going to go well for you.

Yes, you do look stunning in your dress, but…

…your marriage to this “knight in shining armor” will last a measly six months, and in the end you run off with a drug dealer and almost get yourself killed!

Look, you will make it to the other side. But you’ll be left scarred, and you’ll hate yourself for a very long time.

You will gain wisdom.

Wisdom is something people say they want, but if they understood the price they’d pick apples instead.

Thanks to you, I’ll have wisdom in spades.

Aside from almost getting yourself killed, and doing things that are against your morals, you are going to regret tanning more than anything else. Except cocaine. Take a good look at those big, plump boobs of yours and kiss them good-bye because cocaine is going to take them from you and you won’t see them again unless milk is spurting from them.

You will be right about jelly shoes, Amway, and est. You’ll be wrong about E.T. People are going to LOVE E.T. (?????)

You won’t be an actress or a dancer, but you will be a terrific mother. And you will find love.

You make peace with your mother, but not with your father.

I can’t tell you that by 50 we have it all worked out, because we don’t. In fact, in some ways I feel as confused as you do. Right about now I wish our 70-year old self would show up and tell us how it all turns out.

Love, 50-year old Chloe


This post is part of a bloghop for a group of midlife bloggers called Generation Fabulous (GenFab for short). If you are a member of GenFab please link up your post here. If you are a midlife blogger and are not a member of GenFab feel free to email me and ask about joining.

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  7. These letters are SO honest. Thank you for GenFab, I don’t know about you but it seems that one day (in my 40’s) I woke up with life wisdom. It just happened one day. I remember hearing women say they love who they are in their midlife and I never ‘got it’. Now I do!

    Thank you for sharing such a personal story. You inspire me.
    Mari @Bookworm with a View recently posted..Life: what in the world…My Profile

  8. Chloe, I was stupid too. Many of us were. When I wrote to my 20 year old self I could never have imagined that someone who knew me then (fortunately blackmail here would go in both directions) would reply and say it was one the the best things I’ve written to put on my site. It made me realize that when I was 20, on that day of the year, I was about to lose the best friend I had ever had. Inverse butterfly effect, is real in some other universe. I just know it. Thanks for doing this Chloe!
    Nancy/Nerthus recently posted..Dear 20 Year Old SelfMy Profile

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  11. This was such a terrific read for me while drinking my coffee. I may have to try this as I turn 40 next month. You have lived an incredible life! Lessons. I try to be grateful, but like you, I could have done without a few of the experiences. :) I really enjoyed. I also feel your pain about not having the time with your mother.
    Abbie Gale at All that makes you…

    • Hey Abbie! Nice to meet you. Thanks for stopping by and taking the time to comment.

      40 was scary for me, but the truth is that I LOVED my 40s. I finally started to appreciate the body I have instead of the body I thought I should have, and I learned to really enjoy my sexuality during that decade. May it be as fruitful for you.
      Chloe Jeffreys recently posted..Dear 20-Year Old MeMy Profile

    • Everything I have I owe to the me’s that came before. All of their mistakes and successes make up who I am today. And who we are today makes the us we’ll be someday. It is sort of fascinating to think about life this way.

  12. You and Lisa have both given me something to really think about. Your post was excellent and made me really think about what would I tell 20 year old me (besides stay in school and don’t listen to your mother!). There must be much more…
    Grandma Kc recently posted..Now This is How We have FunMy Profile

    • This was a cathartic writing experience for me. What was profound was reading the other posts and realizing that the advice there still applies today.

      1. Don’t get yourself stuck out of fear.
      2. Treat yourself kindly. You’re doing the best you can.
      3. Believe in yourself. You can be more than you think.

      Today, at 50, I needed to hear those things.
      Chloe Jeffreys recently posted..Dear 20-Year Old MeMy Profile

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    • Weight loss. Lose weight, lose boobs. It’s that’s simple. And sad. They came back for a visit during pregnancy and lactating, but never took up permanent residence on my chest again.

  17. I’ve loved reading all these posts. In fact, I’ve just sent a novel on this topic to an editor I met at a conference in July. No matter how many times, I send stuff out, it’s still a nerve wracking experience. But I can handle it better now at this age than at twenty.

    • I can’t wait to see it!

      We do handle things better in many ways at this age. I think perspective is important and sorely lacking when we’re young. But oh how painful it is to get perspective.

    • Vikki, it turned out to be much more cathartic than I anticipated. I didn’t start to tell my children my story until they were adults because I wanted them to have the innocence of youth. But a time comes when we need to know the truth about our parents. That’s almost as important as really facing the truth about ourselves. And what I’ve found is that my mother’s truth, and her mother’s truth, and so on, do have something to do with my truth.

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    • My life is a psychologist’s dream. And I remember lots of it and take responsibility for most of it, too. I’ve always found that therapists like it when you can at least see how in some way you’ve contributed to your own misery. LOL.

      As far as the cocaine? Weight loss. If you lose 30lbs, as I did, your boobs will go. Good bye boobs. The worst part is that they never came back to stay.

    • There so many good times. I was so happy in that picture. I really thought it was perfect. We never really know how life is going to turn out. Some of the decisions we make that we think are the best turn to crap, and sometimes our worst decision lead us in the right directions.
      Chloe Jeffreys recently posted..Dear 20-Year Old MeMy Profile

  19. Great honesty.
    I wonder if we had instant videos on our phones then like we do now would we review more carefully what we do? Would we look at our own home movies or those of our friends and hear ourselves too?

    • Oh my! I feel for kids today leaving the digital footprint behind them the way they do. I think everyone should get a digital reset at 25. You get to change your name and expunge your Facebook account.

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    • I think other than the fact that they would be aghast that I let myself gain 62lbs when I was pregnant thus leaving us with unsightly stretchmarks that they’d be pretty happy with the way things have turned out.

  21. Just love reading your stories of your past. There are lessons to be learned and you have learned. You live life to the max and you give a great deal every day, really, what more is there?
    Jo Heroux recently posted..PATRIOTISMMy Profile

    • Thank you! It has always bothered me that the photographer didn’t fix my veil before taking that shot. It would be perfect otherwise. It was a beautiful wedding. Too bad the marriage didn’t last.

  22. What a great post. If only we could really do this– but then it makes me wonder how much would change in the domino effect of life and would we be who we are today?

    I recently did a similar post–on my regular blog–but I still wanted to participate. I put up a Dear-20 something me on my fiction blog–but most of it is based in fact…however some details were added. I had fun doing it!!

    Here is the link to that piece:

    Cheers, Jenn
    Jenn recently posted..Election Day EveMy Profile

    • Why the hell is that??? Why can’t we learn lessons from watching other people make mistakes? I know I never do.

      You gotta love Princess Diana. She looked so lovely in her dress on her wedding day. Who could have guessed that marrying a Prince would turn out worse than running off with a drug dealer?

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  25. I always learn something from your posts, Chloe. I had no idea cocaine flattened breasts. I am, however, well acquainted with the fact that 20 year olds make ridiculous decisions that impact the rest of their lives. Youth is wasted on the young, isn’t it?
    Ginger Kay recently posted..Routinized vs. WhimsicalMy Profile

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