If I had to write a letter to my college self, it would sound a lot like this:

Dear College-Age Kari:

Well, aren’t you smart? It’s clear that you already know *everything*…what could I possibly tell you that you don’t already think you’re an expert on? Not to worry, in the next 17 or so years you’ll figure out just how much you don’t know and learn from your mistakes delays in judgment? Side bar, do not get that tattoo; no matter what your “sisters” tell you – sororities are not for life.

Let’s start with school. Just to be clear, you won’t be using your English degree in quite the same way you are thinking right now. I know you think teaching English literature in a popular college along the California coast is a brilliant way to spend your life, but let’s be honest, you also thought Doc Martens and shorts looked good together…and, well, I’ve seen those pictures. Think about something practical like communication or public relations. Yeah, I know, you hate talking in front of people, but get used to it, kid, it’s what will pay the bills (and keeps you in wine and shoes) for your adult life.

Regarding relationships – go ahead, keep dating the wrong boys. I am actually not being sarcastic here (there is a first for everything). Break hearts. Be heartbroken. Some of your relationships will end in laughter and others will end in tears. You are very lucky that all of the “wrong” boys you’ve dated have all been really good guys…just not good for you. Take what you learn from each relationship and try to be a better person in the next one; it’ll only make you love your husband more. Yes, I said husband…you do actually get married. Which reminds me –dad owes me money, remember him saying you’d never find a husband with a smart mouth like yours? Pay up, dad!

Most importantly, make time for the things and people who matter and don’t focus so much on who and what doesn’t. At 41 you will honestly have the most amazing life. You have a job that you love. You work with amazing people and, as a team, you guys do some pretty stellar things. You have great clients and solid relationships with partners and colleagues. Your personal life doesn’t suck either – you have a husband who loves you, an extended family that you really do want to spend time with (stop laughing…I’m serious), and friends who are supportive and steadfast. Those are the people that matter and they are the ones who will be there for you throughout your entire life – matter of fact, most of those folks are your friends now, including the guy you marry…but you’ll figure that out soon enough.

There are so many things I want to tell you right now (just remember you heard “Facebook” here first), but don’t want you to alter your course too much. You are really going to enjoy your 20s…and even your 30s! Slow down. Hang in there. Lighten up. Don’t take yourself so seriously; it’s ok to mess up once in a while. Don’t let people tell you how you should behave; you’re smart, beautiful and strong. When you are 40 you will look back at all those years behind you and say: “damn, I kicked some serious ass.” And you will be right.


41-year-old Kari