03/30/2014 11:32 am ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

A Letter to My 22-Year-Old Self

Dearest Gabi,

Oh, you beautiful, wonderful, brilliant girl. I wish I could travel back in time and squeeze you and hug you and tell you all about the amazing adventures you're going to have. I know things are very uncertain right now. You're about to graduate from college, but beyond that you have no real plan. Real life seems both light years away and scarily fast-approaching.


People like to say that your 20s are the best time of your life, and I'm here to tell you (and I think you already know) that they're absolutely wrong. Your 30s are going to be way better than your 20s. Because despite what Taylor Swift says (not that you have any idea what she says -- if you're 22, she's in, like, third grade), being 22 actually kind of sucks. Especially for someone like you.

You like to have a plan. You like to know what comes next. You like to have both feet on the ground when you decide forge ahead. You've been that way since you were little: brave, but careful. And, unfortunately, it's almost impossible to live that way when you're 22. If you want to get anywhere, you're going to have to take some risks.

You'll worry that your life is on a different track from your parents when they were your age. Your mother may have married your father at 25 and given birth to you at 27, but you're not going to do things that way. It's not that you're opposed to a life like that, it's just that you'll find you have a lot to do before you get there.

You'll try on different careers, moving on from some, but never fully discarding any of them. There are ways in which you'll always be a teacher, an event planner, a caterer, and more. You'll try many different things, but at the end of the day, it will all come down to words and food, and how you can use those two mediums to say what you have to say. It might not be immediately clear just how you'll turn those things into a career, but trust me, you will, and it will amount to more than you ever could have imagined. Stay the course.

There are going to be people who tell you you're not good enough. Not smart enough. Not talented enough. Not beautiful enough. Not thin enough. Let the pain they cause thicken your skin, but don't carry them with you; they don't deserve your attention. You have much more important things to focus on.

There will be men. So many men. So many completely-wrong-but-totally-right-in-the-moment men. There will be much older men. Men who have children. Men who kind of are children. Men with wanderlust. Men with a lust that wanders away from you. Men with no ambition. Men who aspire to run the world. Men you don't actually like very much, but think you should go out with anyway.

Some of them will hurt your heart, but I'm happy to report that none will succeed in breaking it.

And after more than a few runs of this, you'll think that maybe you're done with dating for awhile. Maybe you have better things to do. Of course, it will be at this exact moment that you'll meet the best man you've ever known.

Buddy Holly will be wrong: falling in love won't be easy. It will be scary and messy and complicated, but also exhilarating and beautiful and deeply satisfying. It will force you to be vulnerable in a way you've never been before. You won't complete one another, because you're both already complete, but you will make each other's lives better by being in them. You'll find yourself braiding challah every Friday and texting him photos of the cat. He'll bring you flowers every week and learn how to use Twitter. You'll figure out what it means to share your lives without absorbing one another's identities. And you will be happier than you ever knew possible.

So hang in there, kid. Things get better, I promise. You have adventure, success and love to look forward to. And that's just in the next decade.

All my love,