What My 20-Year-Old Self Would Say About My Current Life

by Christine Burke
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As I settled into my couch, wearing my favorite yoga pants and eager to dive into my DVR queue, I suddenly realized it was Saturday night. I also realized I didn’t care one bit that I was any place other than my family room on what I used to consider the biggest night of the week.

This is how I know I’m a grown up now.

Or, more specifically, this is how I know that I’m no longer in my twenties.

And my 20-year-old self would probably laugh her ass off at the sight of me and my goblet of wine anxious to catch up on three episodes of The Bachelor.

But, my 40-year-old self doesn’t care one bit if the 20-year-old in me is laughing at me and my comfy yoga pants.

Because I seriously love being in my 40s.

Frankly, though, when I was in my teens, I remember being scared stiff of turning forty. When my mother threw my father an “Over The Hill” 40th surprise birthday party, she decorated the house with black balloons and streamers and we had a cake that depicted a fat old man slowly crawling over a green iced hill. They called him “Old Fart” and said things like “Lordy, Lordy, Look Who’s 4o!” I remember thinking that turning forty meant your life was over.

My 13-year-old self decided that night that I was never going to be old and 40, dammit.

So, as I lived my twenties, I made sweeping declarations of the things I’d never do when I was forty. I was bound and determined that I would never be one of those old ladies who sat on her couch on a Saturday night with nothing to do. I wasn’t going to be tied down, I’d travel the world and I would never, ever drive a minivan. EVER.

I am eating those words these days.

Gladly, in fact.

My 20-year-old self would be surprised to learn that I’ve given up looking at the scale. I don’t miss size 4 one bit and size 8 means I can drink wine and still fit into my pants.

She’d be shocked to learn that I stand my ground and demand what’s rightfully mine professionally. And I give zero fucks when doing so.

She’d be amazed that I’ve run seven marathons. I couldn’t do that in my twenties because I wasn’t in the shape I’m in today. But babies, enormous mom hips, and a desire to find a modicum of sanity will drive a woman to run away from home.

My 20 year old self would snicker at my large, people-moving SUV and she’d roll her eyes at my carpool schedule.

She would be glad to learn that I still stop where I am and rock out when Jon Bon Jovi is on the radio. Because some things will NEVER change.

She would be comforted to know that I found a lasting love after years of dating men who didn’t see my worth and value. And that lasting love doesn’t mean roses, candlelit dinners and long nights under the covers. It means cleaning up puke together at 2 a.m. and knowing he’s not going anywhere.

Okay, I’m not going to lie: she’d laugh her ass off if she saw my underwear drawer. Lace and see-through panties have been replaced with lycra and underwire. Suck it, Victoria Secret and you can go ahead and laugh, 20-year-old self. I’ve never been happier in my Hanes.

My 20-year-old self would be relieved to realize that I’ve been fortunate enough in my success that I don’t have to skip a rent payment to splurge on something. She’d be appalled, though, to realize that a splurge is now a new dishwasher but we don’t have to tell her the whole truth.

She’d be disappointed to learn that I’ve only made it to London and have yet to travel the world. And she’d roll her eyes if I told her the best trip I’ve ever taken is a road trip to Texas with my two kids in tow. It might not be the Eiffel Tower or the canals of Venice, but we played Mad Libs and stopped in a town called Bucksnort, TN, which is even better.

My 20-year-old self would realize that she should hug her father tighter, savor every conversation with him and not let little things get in the way of spending every minute she can with him. She’d be sad to hear he’s gone now.

She’d be relieved to hear that Ross winds up with Rachel, and pissed that Seinfeld ended. And she’d be just as excited to watch The Bachelor if she were home on a Saturday night, I suspect.

My 20-year-old self, if she was being really honest with herself, would probably secretly admit that my 40-year-old self doesn’t suck and that she has a lot to look forward to when she finally crests that hill. She’d probably also change her tune about being 40 when she hears that sex gets better with the confidence that comes with age. She’d realize she has nothing to fear in forty and that she’s in for the best years of her life when she gets here.

And, I’d gladly make room for her next to me on the couch, but she’s probably too busy making plans to go out dancing. That’s okay, though, I’ll be here when she gets here.