A Letter To My 20-Year-Old Self.

Agnieszka Zbieranska
6 min readApr 12, 2020

What I wish my twenty-year-old self had known.

Image by freestocks.org from Pexels

My Dearest Love,

Firstly, you are not broken. The confusion and despair you sometimes feel in your inability to find purpose behind your existence, is what everyone around you feels. Befriend that feeling. It will visit you often.

It’s beautiful how stubbornly you search for that magical ‘meaning of life’. Don’t stop. It is what makes you ‘you’, even if others at times get tired of that part of your soul. It’s also the reason why they are drawn to you in the first place.

But accept the fact that perhaps the only ‘meaning of life’ there is, can be found in the small things you tend to overlook.

Don’t waste your time on diets or fretting about those few extra kilograms you’ll inevitably put on as you grow older. Those who matter won’t care. Try to be healthy instead. And by that, I don’t mean dieting.

Your body and mind are precious, even if you tend to put them on the bottom of your priority list. I know it seems that they can take it. They can’t. One day when your health breaks and you find yourself waking up from anaesthesia, disoriented and lonely to your core, you will wish you’ve taken better care of yourself.

Learn the difference between those aspects of your life you can and cannot control. Find joy in shaping the former, but don’t build your life goals around the latter. It will only make you feel like a failure, for no fault of your own.

Don’t set deadlines on things that have to unfold naturally, without you pushing or fighting.

You won’t be married by thirty. You won’t even be in a relationship then. This doesn’t mean that you’re unworthy of love. It just means that the Universe is making you face your greatest fear, and overcome it. You will be stronger for it, even if a part of you dies in the process.

Do not grieve it. We all need to shed some parts of us to truly grow up.

Grow up, but do not ever lose your child-like outlook on life. It will help you find joy and laughter even in the darkest moments. Dance often, sing even if you’re off-tune, write, paint, spend time in nature, travel, pet dogs in the park. These seemingly insignificant acts will be your saviours at times when life seems paralysing.

You cannot convince people to love you. If someone wants to leave you, let them.

You will have you heart broken. More often than you would wish for. Learn to suffer in grace. With the wisdom of age and the perspective of years, you will realise that they were never meant for you.

The only thing you will regret is the desperation with which you did not want to let them go.

Don’t confuse sex with love. Just because you feel your soul ascending to a higher level of existence; just because for you it’s ‘making love’ and not simply fu**ing, doesn’t mean they see it that way too. Don’t use your body to keep those you love in your life for longer than they were destined to be in it. It will only make you feel worse.

Always be kind. But accept that your kindness may not always be reciprocated. It will come back to you at a time and from a source you least expect. Appreciate the strangers and passersby who treat you well, sometimes coming into your life for the sole purpose of holding you through most difficult moments.

Learn to ask for help. You’re not weak for wanting to be held when pain suffocates and fear chokes.

Be vulnerable, even if it means exposing to others the pain points that will hurt most when poked. With time you will learn to differentiate those who are worth being vulnerable with from those who aren’t.

Despite your greatest efforts to understand why those you loved so deeply chose to hurt you the way that hurt most, you will never find the answers you’re so desperately seeking. And that’s ok. Let it go.

Accept that sometimes the way others treat you reflects on them and their own inner demons, and has nothing to do with you. Forgive them and walk away.

You are not wrong for loving people the way you do. It will make you do great things in your career and beyond. You will have saved lives through a pure act of listening. You will make somebody’s day by just being there.

Accept that despite your greatest efforts to be ‘good’, you will hurt people. Sometimes those who deserved it least.

Forgive yourself, for they will have forgiven you. Perhaps you were a lesson they had to learn in order to get what they truly deserve.

You are not wrong for thinking and feeling ‘too much’. Yes, life will sometimes feel like hell because of that, but you will also experience joy and passion that most people will never be able to access.

Embrace that part of you, and trust that all darkness eventually turns into light.

Learn how to be on your own. There will be a time when you will be forced to isolate in a one-bedroom flat with your restless mind and two orchids as your sole companions. The ease with which you’ll go through it, will reflect the degree to which you will have learned to love yourself. Don’t wait. Start now.

Discover who you are. Who you really, truly are, underneath all the social converntions and extrnal framweorks defining you.

Knowing what you stand for, irrespective of the behaviour of others, will serve as your foundation when the world goes crumbling down.

Strive to better yourself, but never apologise for who you are. Accept that not everyone will like it. That’s ok, too. There will be people who would die to have you in their lives. Take care of those people and keep them close.

Be more gentle to your parents. They have truly done their best, at every step of the way, to love you in the way their hearts knew best how. They are only human, just like you.

I know it sometimes seems that you’re homeless, lost between different worlds with no place to go back to. You’ll learn it’s not true. But it will take closed borders and cancelled flights to realise it. Cherish your home and the time you get to spend there.

It’s good that you’ve resolved to work through your childhood traumas in your twenties, but accept that they may always constitute a small part of you. Befriend them, but don’t let them define you. It’s entirely in your hands to shape yourself from now on.

You can choose who you want to become and it’s never too late to start.

Never lose hope. You were never naive for wanting to see the best in others. Give people a chance to live up to the potential you see in them. But accept that it’s within their right to decide not to. Pay attention to what they tell you, for they are always honest; you just choose not to listen.

Never regret giving people your heart. It’s better to feel hurt than nothing at all.

Don’t opt out of love, because of your fear of grief. Don’t opt out of courage, because of your fear of failure. Don’t opt out of belonging, because of your fear of disconnection.

Trust that you have all the resources you need to face anything that comes your way. No matter how broken you sometimes feel, you will pick yourself up and stand up straight. Just give it time.

Know that the choices you make are not always good for you. Your heart will sometimes urge you to make dark, painful choices. It’s because it hasn’t yet learned to love you first, before attempting to love others. Listen to those wiser and more capable of loving you. It will spare you a lot of suffering.

I know you’re stubborn, Dearest Love. I know you will not listen. I am sorry that you will have to learn all of this from your own experience, but I’m also excited for you, for it will shape who you will become on the other side of thirties.

In the meantime, I shall await you there.

With you, always.

Your thirty-year-old self

--

--

Agnieszka Zbieranska

Business Psychologist, Life Coach & NLP Practitioner, 200hr Yoga Teacher. A firm believer that we can all be better than ‘ok’, in every area of our lives.