Letter to My Self at 20: Ali Eisenhauer

By Ali Eisenhauer


Oh Ali,

Fifteen years seems like such a long time. Fifteen years will come and go so quickly. I don’t want to spoil too much of the fun, but I can tell you that your regrets are few and that life is good.

Do me a favor, though, and just relax. At 20 years old, your biggest problem is thinking happiness is right around the corner if only you work hard enough … if you make that grade … if you buy that thing … if you get that job … if you marry that boy. In 15 years, that grade simply will not matter, that thing will already be tossed aside, you will have moved on from that “dream” job. Don’t worry about that boy, though — you picked a good one.

I know you’re anxiously awaiting the big reveal of all your mistakes and failures so you will be spared the frustration of making them. I hate to burst that bubble, but I’m not going to do that for you. Each misstep has shaped who you are today. I can’t take that away from you.

You are strong. You are valuable. Your instincts are good. Stop saying “sorry” all the time. It’s a bad habbit that only undermines your position. You waited way too long to find enough confidence to start taking a stand for yourself and for your beliefs. Trust in yourself, and start now. I promise, the more you do that, the better it feels and the easier it gets. You will not regret it.

Never will you regret an extra smile, a compliment, an act of kindness towards a stranger. Never will you regret getting up early to see the sunrise, lacing up and going out for that jog, sharing that dessert. Your mind is always on the next thing, but there will always be a next thing. The big secret to happiness is that it is already within you. That’s it. Take time out for yourself now. Make friends and hold them close. Be kind to all people and to the earth. Use your money to buy experiences over things. Stop and smell the flowers. Stop and savor the moment. Put down the camera and just watch the fireworks. Truly, that’s it.

You will learn the wonder and terror of excising a piece of your very own heart, growing it into an independent, free-willed tiny human, and then being forced to allow it to exist in a world beyond  your control. So please, give your own mother a tiny bit of slack, okay? Wear the sunscreen. Drink an extra glass of water. Floss those teeth.

There is actually one thing I want to spoil. One day, you will be driving down the road singing along with your tiny human and Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson. Yes, that’s the WWE wrestler you laugh at now. It won’t be ironically or begrudgingly. You will like it. It will be a joy deep within your soul unlike anything you’ve felt this far in life. You’re welcome.

Love and Peace,

Ali Eisenhauer