Dear Rachel...

I have been thinking about you a lot lately. I know it has been a while, but I remember my senior year of High School like it was yesterday. Between the SATs, College apps, managing all your AP classes, sports, clubs and part time job it is stressful AF. Not to mention making time for your friends, partying and boys. I am honestly not sure what was more stressful: figuring out prom or like what I wanted to do with my life. Instagram wasn’t even as much of a thing back in my day, but that has to add a whole new level of comparison exhaustion. I can only imagine. I was just thinking about how proud I am of you! I am not proud because you crushed your SAT scores. I am not proud because you are in 5 AP classes and getting amazing grades. I am not proud that you just finished 15 college applications to amazing schools! I am not proud of you because of all your athletic achievements. I am proud of you because of the person you have become. Despite being 10 years younger than me, I sometimes feel like you’re my big sister. I know you get so mad when we are out or something and someone assumes you are older—thank you kale & anti-aging products—but that really is a testament to how mature you are.  Chill—not mature in a boring way, I would cry if you spent 17 years hanging out with me and ended up not fun. Real talk, as much as it might pain me to admit it, you are such a better person than I was at your age, but I did learn a lot since I graduated high school about 10 years ago, so I wanted to share just a few words of advice that I wish I knew back in 2010.

1) Don’t compare yourself to others

I know it feels like there is always someone a little prettier, smarter, nicer, richer, etc., and that is because there usually is. It is hard not to compare yourself to others when, social media makes it so easy for us to filter the very best version of ourselves for others to see. Everyone looks so happy on the gram, but unfortunately a lot of this is fake news. Truth is everyone has something going on in their life, or something about themselves they would like to change. Things also happen for people at their own pace, so be patient with yourself.

While I still struggle with this sometimes now even, I have found that the happiest person in the room isn’t the one that walks in and thinks they are the best, they are the one that doesn’t need to look around at all. Focus on you and you will get to that place.

2) Don’t rush through your life

I remember when you were little, your teacher asked everyone in your class to bring in a photo of themselves when they were their happiest. You brought in a picture of me, and said that was a picture of you when you were older and happier. For as long as I can remember you’ve been dying to grow up. I was the same exact way—I think I watched 13 going on 30 like 20 times.   

Anyway now that I’m almost approaching 30 let me tell you, it ain’t all it’s cracked up to be. Hangovers start lasting like 2 days now and instead of worrying about school you have to worry about bills. I’m just kidding there is also a lot of amazing stuff that happens too! The point is: do not worry about getting to the next stage of your life, instead just try to be present in the moment. Enjoy every stage and day of your life because you will never get it back.  

3) It doesn’t matter as much as you think

I still struggle with this. Between worrying about what others think or worrying about every little thing, I can really set myself off the deep end worrying about things like if I shouldn’t have said something or ate too many brownies. I know in the moment it seems like the biggest deal in the world, but I PROMISE, a lot of the stuff that we spend hours obsessing over like if someone likes us or what to wear won’t matter in the long run as much you think. I remember when I got rejected by Wharton, I was so heartbroken I didn't leave my room for 3 days. Rutgers ended up being incredible. It wasn't what I thought I wanted but sometimes life has better plans for us. Think about all the amazing friends I would have never made. Think about all the opportunities I might have never had. Point is you should have goals and you can have wishes, but you are NOT just your achievements. Don't hold onto any desire too lightly. Trust that the universe has your back & let it go. I promise it won't matter tomorrow as much as you think it does today. 

4) Set boundaries

With your heart. With your time. With your energy. Set boundaries. This doesn’t mean that you need to walk around guarded with all the fences up, it just means that it is okay to say no sometimes. If you need a personal day to take care of you, it’s okay to not go to the party. Even if it’s with the people you love most, you need to show up for you before you can show up for anyone else. If you feel sick when you eat dairy you don’t need to get late night pizza just because everyone else is doing it. If you are uncomfortable in a given situation you can leave. I can’t tell you the number of times I got a bad gut feeling about something and stuck around just because I didn’t want to cause a scene. Trust your gut always, and then do what you need to protect yourself.

5) It is okay to change your mind

I remember the first moment I realized that I didn’t want to work in finance anymore. I was so scared to tell anyone or leave because I was afraid I would disappoint everyone. I had studied business since I was a freshman in high school. 8 years of school, plus 5 years of work experience made me feel like I couldn’t walk away. Leaving was the hardest, but BEST thing I ever did for myself. I changed my mind. I realized it happens a lot more than we think.

Btw I feel like this makes it WAY less scary to make a decision. I know you’re deciding a lot of things right now like which school to go to and what to major in, but I just want you to know that you can mess up! I don’t think anyone ever said that to me. That I was allowed to make a mistake. See it isn’t a failure to change your mind. It is only a failure if you stay in a situation you hate out of fear. So chill babe, you don’t have to have it all figured out today.