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Dear 22-year-old Lauren,

I’ve always wondered what it would be like to time travel. If I had the chance to travel in the future and know how pieces of my life would pan out, would I give a heads up to the Lauren at the time? Would it alter history? Or would I travel to the future and see how/if everything worked out like I thought it would?

At 22, I was full of hope about what life would look like after college. I would land my dream job, have a big apartment, and by then I would meet someone. You know the dream.

Over the last six years, I’ve experienced so much life. With that comes a lot of heartbreak, and not just romantic heartbreak. I got into a career I had no idea was a possibility. I’ve had a few different friend groups. I’ve stood up in close friend’s weddings, and sat in the chairs as I see other friends say “I do.” My parents have moved twice. I moved to a new state. My brother got married. I started and finished my master’s. I’ve traveled across the country and around the world. I went on vacation by myself for the first time. I’ve lived by myself and I’ve lived with people and back to living by myself (which is 100% preferred). I helped revamp a church service. I got promoted. I’ve done a lot of hard work in the name of self-growth.

I have lived.

If there was one thing I could tell my 22-year-old self is that you have to keep living. Despite all the hard stuff she would face, she needed to persist. Continue putting one foot in front of the other. To never give up and always fight to be the better version of herself.

One of the biggest things 22-year-old Lauren would learn is to love and accept herself. She went through the fire and came out years later, refined. However, there’s still more to learn. There’s always more to learn.

Recently, I’ve been going through a lot of old photos, which brings up going down memory lane. To be honest, they’re not all good memories. But I can confidently say that those that aren’t, I have learned from. I’m not the same person I was in the pictures or posts. I’ve learned some valuable lessons that I hope I can pass along to those younger than me. There have been few people older than me, that I could look up to. It always seemed like it was just up to me to figure life out.

If at the end of my life, all I accomplished was living to the fullest by being present in as many moments as possible, allowing myself grace for the mistakes I’ve made and my shortcomings, and had learned to be the best me there is possible–I will have accomplished it all. But that doesn’t mean I can’t dream about living an even fuller life, I think it’s possible.

Twenty-eight was another tough year, but it was good. My life is so good. I’m so thankful for the things I experienced at 22–the good and the bad, so I can experience this life at 28, with an open heart.

I never would have predicted my life to be where it is now. It’s funny because even as of late, there are still unexpected things that have come my way I never could have seen coming. The unexpected inspires me to live my life to the fullest, to soak up every moment possible.

 

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