‘You’re doing it wrong’ – A birthday letter from myself

MISCDear Mary,

Tomorrow is your birthday so if there was ever an appropriate time for your inner monologue to give some more 3D advice, I guess this is it (-That’s me, by the way. I’m your inner monologue. You may not know me very well because your outer monologue is a bit of a conversation hog).

Anyway, it’s nice to touch base once in a while. The fact that you’re listening to Taylor Swift and writing letters to yourself makes me think you probably haven’t changed much since we last talked. The fact that you’re binge-eating your birthday candy right now reinforces that suspicion.

Listen, I don’t know how long you’re going to stay focused before some 3-minute video clip on facebook breaks your concentration, so I’ll get right to this.

It’s time to grow up a little.

Woah there! Don’t get so worked up! That was not an insult or a threat or whatever. But there is a time to be a child and a time to be a “young person” and there’s time to start assuming some basic adult responsibilities and habits (‘now’ being the latter of those times). This isn’t going to be scary. It’s not going to be “lame.” And hopefully it won’t throw you into a 2-month depression where you only listen to Kenny Loggins’ “Pooh Corner” on repeat like you did when you turned 17. (That would have been a good time for me to write you a letter).

All I want to do is offer you some “life suggestions.”

  • Dot your ‘i’s. I do not understand how you made it through nearly 23 years of your life without ever learning to dot your ‘i’s. I realize people still understand that it’s an ‘i’ and that extra dot takes time you could spend elsewhere. But where else is it okay to leave something unfinished and present it as your honest, best effort? If you don’t take time to do the small things right, you’ll find you lack the abilities needed to do the big things. Dot your ‘i’s.
  • Empty your trash can at least once a week. Heaven forbid your mother reads this. The fact that you can live in a room with a trash can that hasn’t been emptied for a fortnight (to put it as gracefully as possible) makes even me a little disgusted, and I’m pretty forgiving, as far as inner monologues go. Pull yourself together. We are not living in the Middle Ages – modern hygienic rules apply. Empty your trash can at least once a week.
  • Stop buying cheap shoes. I know commitment is scary. What if they develop some weird quirk? What if your wardrobe undergoes major changes in the next year and they don’t match? What if you just wake up one morning and decide you don’t like them anymore? But here’s the thing. You keep buying these cheap shoes and they fall apart within a few months (though, honestly, Honey, why you insist on getting white shoes, I will never understand). It’s time to invest in something that will last, something valuable enough to make you more careful in how you treat it. It’s time to learn how to walk into a shoe store, view the options and pick something classy, affordable and practical. Women all over the world have been doing this for years. It is possible. So stop buying cheap shoes.
  • Don’t leave the facebook tab open. You and I both love facebook. Especially now that you’re living so far away from home, it’s wonderful to get to stay in touch with people you love. And, frankly: cat videos. But there is a time to be on facebook and there is a time to be doing literally anything else. When you’re not “on” facebook, close the tab, because you and I both know that as soon as you see that little notification sign you’ll drop whatever you’re doing to check it out. And then you’ll spend another ten minutes scrolling back through your homefeed. You don’t need help procrastinating on life. Part of being an adult is learning to remove temptations. Don’t leave the facebook tab open.
  • Take the earlier bus. Getting there on time is what you did (or tried to do) in college. Getting their early is the next stage of life. And can I share a secret with you? The few extra minutes of sleep you lose to catch that earlier bus will more than be made up for by starting your day ahead of the game. Take the earlier bus.
  • Stop eating just because you can. I know you think it’s funny to ‘eat your feelings’ but it’s time to make this a thing of the past. Don’t just eat food because it’s there. Don’t embrace unhealthy habits just because you can’t see the effects yet. And don’t deny yourself the growth that comes with struggle and pain and discomfort (emotional or physical) by reaching for something to eat, something temporary, something that numbs you to your feelings. What’s the difference between eating unhealthily and drinking unhealthily accept that you can joke about eating a whole pizza but ‘getting black-out drunk’ isn’t as socially acceptable. Don’t think you’re ‘okay’ just because your vice is easier to whitewash than others. Besides, feelings, my Dear, even painful ones, are always worth it in the end. Nothing is so redeemable in life as a wide array of feelings experienced deeply. Stop hurting your body. Stop making excuses. Stop eating just because you can.

Some of this you know already. Some of it you’ve already begun to work on. Don’t be discouraged if this feels a little harsh. Part of growing up means facing unpleasant truths about yourself and learning how to fix them.

Let me just say one more thing. You may be too old to get away with eating your weight in cookie dough or flopping around town in holey, half-priced, knock-off Vans. But you are never too old to laugh at life and its misadventures.

DO NOT lose your sense of humor. Laugh at your mistakes and your shortcomings, your embarrassing moments and even your personal miseries. It is possible – through the goodness and grace of our Lord and Father – to feel immense pain and sorrow while also feeling incredible, inexhaustible joy. DO NOT lose your ability to feel.

I hope the next time we talk, T-Swift will have come out with another fabulous soundtrack for us and you’ll be sporting some snazzy footwear. There’s a lot to look forward to.

Many happy returns,


Your Inner Monologue

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