Tuesday, January 16, 2007

What I Know Now

I've been leafing through a book I received from my cousin Izzie called What I Know Now. Forty-one famous and successful women wrote letters to themselves at an earlier point in their lives, filled with words of wisdom and knowledge they wish they had had when they were younger. I've decided to take a page out of this book and write a letter to myself at age 29, just before I turned 30.

Dear JoJo,

You're heartbroken because the man you loved, built a home with and pinned your hopes and dreams to, has told you that he doesn't have enough passion for you to marry you. You're devastated and wondering what is wrong with you that he doesn't love you enough to marry you.

It'll take a while, but one day you'll realize that the lack was never in you. It was in him. It doesn't make him a bad person - just not the right man for you.

You'll take that hurt, anger and pain and turn it around to focus your energies on yourself. Without much conscious thought you challenge yourself to do new things, speak up, and be noticed. You'll compete in your first triathlon, you'll start your lifelong love affair with travel, you'll climb that corporate ladder and you'll question your place in society. You decide that you won't be defined by any man, you'll be doing the defining.

It's a wonderful few years you'll have of success on your own terms. You're confident and happy. You'll attract wonderful people, some of whom you'll have great romances with, some of whom will become the family of your heart. You know who you are, where you want to go, and how you want to lead your life. I wish you would learn to hold onto that sense of self because when you need it most it'll be gone and you'll struggle to find yourself again.

You'll be knocked down by a series of events of which you have no control - the tech bubble collapses and you'll lose your job, you'll suffer a series of injuries which lay you up a number of times, you'll be betrayed by family, and most devastatingly, your father - your rock - will be diagnosed with lung cancer. It doesn't happen all at once, but each event occurs in such succession that you are never able to quite get back on your feet. At the end, you're left just reacting to the next crisis.

One day, you'll wake up at 36 and realize that the last 4 years have come and gone and you're a different person. You'll realize that you'd most recently spent an entire year just...existing. You'll ask yourself, "What will make me happy?" and you won't know. You'll realize you're a stranger to yourself. You mourn the loss of four prime years of your life. Years where you could have been pursuing success, falling in love and building a family. It will scare you to think that perhaps you won't ever be happy again.

But, once you're done panicking about the loss of time, you'll reflect on the periods you were most happy and recall the year you turned 30. Taking a page out of that book, you'll set goals for yourself. You're not sure if they're the right goals, but you have to start somewhere. You decide to run a marathon, buy a house, re-engage in your job, and open yourself up to romance. You succeed for the most part and by the end of your 36th year, you regain your sense of self. You also remember how to have fun again.

One evening, early in 2007, you'll go out to dinner with a dozen women around your age. These women are attractive, interesting, funny, and successful. Though only one of them are married, the subject of men doesn't even come up. The discussion centers around happiness, career, fulfillment, and current events. There is wonderful food, diverse conversation, and lots of laughter.

You won't really think about the significance of that evening until a bit later. You'll soon realize that you've come to a place where you've defined your own happiness. You've elected to surround yourself with people who reflect that choice and you revel in the knowledge of knowing who you are.

It's been a long dark period but you've come back into the light. Congratulations.

With much love,

JoJo

13 Comments:

Blogger E :) said...

That's awesome.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007 6:11:00 AM  
Blogger LJ said...

Absolutley beautiful words... I love this line especially...

It'll take a while, but one day you'll realize that the lack was never in you. It was in him. It doesn't make him a bad person - just not the right man for you.

Wow. Rings really close to home. Thanks for the thoughts.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007 2:11:00 PM  
Blogger mandy said...

Wow. I've just picked up this book myself. And I'd say... without a doubt that your letter is just as compelling, if not more so, than the ones I've read so far.

This was just beautiful and inspiring. Thank you.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007 4:05:00 PM  
Blogger steve said...

As others have already said... That is awesome and inspiring and thought provoking. Thank you for sharing it.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007 4:49:00 PM  
Blogger DCVita said...

That was incredibly inspiring, and just what I needed today. No one could have said the right words to me today, but you somehow found them. Thank you!

Tuesday, January 16, 2007 9:00:00 PM  
Blogger JoJo said...

Thanks everone for the lovely words of praise!

Wednesday, January 17, 2007 12:33:00 PM  
Blogger Needtsza said...

not to be insensitive to the rest of your writing but which triathlon are you going to complete?

Friday, January 19, 2007 9:03:00 AM  
Blogger Ashburnite said...

wow...how did I miss this post? Very, very touching. And I agree with lj- the line "It'll take a while, but one day you'll realize that the lack was never in you. It was in him. It doesn't make him a bad person - just not the right man for you." was absolutely beautiful.

Friday, January 19, 2007 2:13:00 PM  
Blogger Asian Mistress said...

"...These women are attractive, interesting, funny, and successful. Though only one of them are married, the subject of men doesn't even come up. The discussion centers around happiness, career, fulfillment, and current events. There is wonderful food, diverse conversation, and lots of laughter."

This really hit me because I feel like half the time when I go out with my girlfriends, all we do is talk about men. And I realize it, I hate it, but I still do it.

Friday, January 19, 2007 5:41:00 PM  
Blogger Single Girl in Londontown said...

I loved that post. Fantastic.

Thanks :)

Saturday, January 20, 2007 12:01:00 AM  
Blogger reluctant dater said...

having a bad day/week/month, this post was what i needed to read today. i am the age of the "you" to whom you are writing, and everything you said, admitted and accepted in this post made me smile and feel just a little bit better. just because "it was him" and he was "just not the right man" for me does not mean my life is over. i am going to look forward to my 30s--and to the rest of my life--knowing that it is me who defines me and that i am the one who is in control of my happiness.

Monday, January 22, 2007 3:38:00 AM  
Blogger Freckled K said...

Family of the heart. I'll have to steal that.

Beautiful post. I'm a little teary now, but I'm also smiling.

Monday, January 22, 2007 2:45:00 PM  
Blogger Samantha said...

Oh my gosh that was great. So familiar. Thanks for that, it’s amazing how some things come along right when you need to hear them!

Tuesday, January 23, 2007 6:43:00 PM  

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