Dear Chloe: 23 Things to Tell My Twenty-Two Year Old Self

In and Out of Focus

The clock has ticked me right into my early-mid-twenties this week, and looking back, I must say the learning curve for year twenty-two was intense. At my last birthday party, there was a girl, who was about fifty pounds overweight, hated her job in corporate US, and was hesitant to even consider following her heart to the far reaches of the world’s corners. She was a little unhappy, a little stuck in her head, and a lot a bit lost. Here’s a list of 23 truths I’d tell that girl.


1.Family is forever if you allow yourself to notice. As soon as you decide to leave, which you will, you’ll start to understand those who share your blood, not only as your support unit, but also as the unique individual persons they are. It was easy to forget to savor those moments when you lived under the same roof, but you’ll be happy to hear that moving away has made it impossible to take them for granted. When you chat with your sister now, you revel in the minute details of her life as a fitness instructor in the last semester of her first college year. You listen to and hear your brothers’ stories about soccer, autoimmune diseases, girlfriends, and Louisville. It’s beautiful how the mundane becomes vital.

2.Start to live with less so you can find wonder in more. You don’t know this, but you need very little to survive, and even less to be happy. It’ll make sense soon. Need is an overused word in your vocabulary.

3.Natural peanut butter is just as addictive as chocolate, but it’s better. Put down the crap, and try some PB2.

4.There is truth in every stereotype, and those truths are complex. You don’t know anyones’ story but your own, so just shut up and write.

5.You aren’t as confused as you think you are. Simplicity is your friend.

6.Stop lying to yourself. In every aspect of your life, honesty will help you. Honesty with yourself. Honesty with others. Honesty with that sixth chocolate bar you just ate, and honesty with that oh-so-convenient-gym-membership that’s been looming under that empty carton for the last three weeks. Honesty is the easy button you’ve been searching for. Get on it, woman.

7.Nothing is ever black and white. Grey absolutely exists.

8.Have a rest. Then you will always find joy in talking to strangers on busses, catching the scent of a taro cake on your walk to the metro, and Chinglish conversations with neighbors. You’ll never be done. So what’s the rush, silly girl?

9.You consume a lot. Of everything. If you don’t want to hit pause to try on a mediocre-mintcream-dress that might not make you look fat, then you probably don’t want it enough to spend those eight working hours on it. If you have time to go through a twenty minute wait McDonalds drive-thru, then you can spare ten minutes to make a salad. Don’t buy so much and don’t eat so much. Neither fufill you.

10.Keep love in your heart for everyone. For those who have loved you before. For those who have misunderstood you in the past. For those you have misjudged, and for those who love you now.

11.When you open your mind, it’s easy to open your heart. Unlock your mind darling. It’s okay to jump. Jump to China. Jump into their arms. Jump, jump, jump, squeeze, hold, breathe.

12.Love yourself. When you deprive yourself, you binge. After you gorge, you punish yourself. Be good to yourself everyday so you never feel the need to fill that hole with lukewarm Chinese take out.

13.Being polite is not the same as being passive aggressive. Change your lenses, and appreciate both.

14.It’s okay to wonder if you’ve lost touch with reality. You haven’t. You’re just working your way into a place called bliss. When you find this home, you’ll still wonder if you’ve lost it because this type of peace causes intense sober highs. Enjoy. Comes with the territory.

Teaching Bliss

15.Calm down, and taste every feeling. Let every second roll over your tongue, flick the minutes through your mouth, and let life slide down your throat. Life will soothe you.

16.People don’t understand you better when you talk louder. You’re not everyone’s teacher so you can relax that mouth, because you no longer need attention to survive. Open your ears, and give it to someone else.

17.Stress doesn’t have to be a feeling. You can choose to not be stressed in a stressful situation. This thought alone will save you over and over again.

18.Everyone’s perspective is valid but logic and trusting your instincts will keep you sane.

19.Don’t say it unless it needs to be said. Usually, depending on your audience, it doesn’t need to be said. Take that lesson from your father, the man of few words with an unmovable calmness that has survived and flourished even through five children in seven years.

20.You’re tired because you’re dehydrated. And you’re hungry cause you’re dehydrated. Drink more water. Listen to that body. It knows what it wants more than you do.

21.Be nice. Most of the time, it’s easier to be nice. Being mean is exhausting.

22.Your health is the biggest rock in that foundation you so desperately crave.

23.You aren’t perfect. People wouldn’t like you if you were. You’re human like the rest of us. Instead of wasting your energy on the needless and exhausting attempts for imagined ideals, strive for balance. And start being your own friend, because every time you stumble, all that negativity you drown yourself in sends you soaring deeper and deeper into that dark place. You don’t need to be there. You are and you will be much better than darkness allows.


Find me…   Follow me…



8 thoughts on “Dear Chloe: 23 Things to Tell My Twenty-Two Year Old Self”

  1. This is such a beautiful post, and it speaks to me so much. Definitely needed some of those things reiterated in my life. Thank you. So jealous of you out there on your adventures!


  2. Thanks!! For reading and for connecting. I can see from your posts that you’re learning lots of life lessons in your incredible wanderings 🙂 Thanks for posting!


  3. Beijing was awesome, it definitely exceeded my expectations.
    I’d love to make it over to Wuhan at some point too, it would be great to see you again!


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