I’m delighted to welcome 8 authors to the blog over 4-11 July in order to celebrate the release of Her Books Presents: Book Club Picks. Each author is sharing a guest post and excerpt from their book. So stop back every day for a chance to meet Steena Holmes, Rachel Thompson, Christine Nolfi, Elena Aitken, Bette Lee Crosby, Patricia Sands, Karla Darcy, and Kathleen Valentine.
Her Books Presents: Rachel Thompson – Letter to My 20 Year Old Self
Being twenty kinda sucks. You’re sort of stuck between kid and adult. You’re in college, working full-time, and living with weird roommates. You’re in love with someone who will crush your heart. You don’t know what you don’t know.
Looking back on our life, here are a few tips to help you along the way:
- Wear a bikini more often. Stop worrying about being fat. You’re not. You’re thinner than most people and in much better shape. Having curves and being a size six does not make you fat. Besides, most guys love curvy girls and those who tell you you’re fat are not worth your time. And ever if you are fat, so what? It’s your brain that counts.
- Intense love and great sex don’t equal a relationship. This guy you are with will cheat on you. Twice. You think he’s the love of your life and much more will happen with him later on, but stop wasting your time now. Dump him.
- Forget what I just said. I’m proud of you that you allowed yourself to love this guy. How else will you learn what love and sex should or should not be? And loving with abandon isn’t a bad thing, no matter how much he’ll shred your heart later on. Because then you’ll know.
- Choose writing as your career. Don’t become a pharmaceutical rep. People will tell you it’s a safe, secure job with a car, insurance, vacation, and bonuses – and they’re right, it is. But you’ll hate it. Every second for fifteen years, you will despise it. You’re a writer. Pursue your dream.
- Or not. Stick with the pharma deal. Hating your job is a rite of passage and a great learning experience. Builds character and stuff. Totally helps later when you latch on to social media. All that sales and marketing experience helps you start your own successful business.
- Travel more. Go alone! You will travel the world when you’re older, but it becomes more difficult and expensive with a family. Broaden your horizons now while you’re unattached. And learning to navigate the world on your own is a huge life lesson.
- Listen to yourself more. Worry less about what others think. You’re too self-conscious. People are more concerned with their own lives than with you. People care, but not as much as you think. And nobody can see that zit on your chin.
- Drink more water.
- Eat more chocolate.
- Sleep. Sleep now, because once you have children, you’ll be perpetually tired.
- Live alone longer. Roommates suck, boys are smelly. While you do buy your own place at age 24 and live alone for about four years, I suggest doing it earlier if you can swing it. There’s creativity in solitude.
- Money. Saving money is important but kind of overrated. Have fun. Travel. Buy stuff you love, eat caviar, pursue your artistic endeavors. Enjoy your life!
- Quit the job you hate. Being a cashier at Longs pays the bills but doesn’t do much for your writing career or creative life. Find something else that nurtures you instead of something that drains your soul.
- Therapy. Get therapy now to deal with the effects of your neighbor molesting you at age eleven. You may think hiding it away will work, but it doesn’t.
- Read more. You already read a lot and believe me, that will never change. But pay more attention to poetry, to classics, to the books that touch your heart.
- Men. You have met good men, great men, and terrible men. Trust your gut. But know this: no man will make you happy. You have to make yourself happy first.
- Perfectionism. Let stuff go. Your perfectionism makes you a good worker but it also causes you anxiety. Not everything has to be ‘just so’ all the time.
- Stop running. You’ll trash your knees. Take up yoga or Pilates. At the very least, learn to breathe deeply. Trust me on this one.
- Spend more time with family. Your family is great and they are supportive of you and your life decisions even when you think they’re not. And when you have kids later, your parents will love them like their own. And then give them back.
- Don’t take anything personally. Still learning this one thirty years later, but it will save you a lot of heartache. Usually when people say mean things, its because of their emotional state, not yours.
- Listen to your elders. Or at least, read letters from your almost-fifty year old self. She’s pretty cool.
And know this: every decade beyond your twenties will only get better.
This is my most intensive work to date.
Broken Pieces is a work of nonfiction essays, poetry, and prose where I open my soul and invite you in for a visit. It’s vulnerable, it’s raw honesty, it’s no-holds barred. This is the first book I’ve published where I questioned if readers and reviewers would respond favorably due to the serious nature of the work.
And yet, they have.
Most readers know me as the funny girl, but this work (hinted at in A Walk In The Snark), shows that I can go into those long buried rooms, the ones we lock up deep inside, and share.
These stories were there. I simply had to wait until my brain caught up.
It’s where we store the depths of the hurt we’ve been dealt.
Where we store the deep love we never want to lose.
Where we’ve tucked away all those cutting comments through the years, when we couldn’t react because we had company. The place where we shoved the painful words down, swallowed the reactions and put them in the corner; pushing it all back down when it threatened to rise up; afraid the tentative piece of string might snap and all the hurtful words he sent your way will tumble back out and hit him so hard he won’t comprehend the language you’re speaking is his own.
We fold our stories inside ourselves.
We unwrap them when nobody is looking.
We carry former lovers, long lost, inside our limbs. We feel their caresses, remember exactly how their tongues entwined with ours as our bodies melted, their eyes on ours as they entered us; even our cells remember the exquisite burn.
A woman never forgets, though she may learn to love another. We wrap those memories away for safekeeping, even when those lovers hurt and brutalize, our hearts break and we cry forever tears. We have a room for that pain, a special key we hide to lock it away.
Women grow, our hearts accommodating all the players in our lives.
We explore our rooms often, sometimes inadvertently. Our hearts won’t allow us to ignore our secret places for long. Try as we might to suppress our desires, our unknown thoughts and fears will rise to guide us to different places, new rooms we never knew existed but were within us the whole time.
Embrace. Hold tight while you dance. Jump.
Our rooms are buried so deeply, many times we don’t listen or can’t hear. We fall, search, drift, let go. We hold our breath, worry what others will think, lose ourselves.
Women have rooms inside us.