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  • Sarah Reijonen

Some advice for 20-year-old Sarah

This International Women’s Day, I can’t help but reflect on my journey into womanhood. This—as well as an excellent Dennis Prager Fireside Chat podcast I heard the other day—got me thinking about what I would tell my 20-year-old self (I can’t believe I’m almost two decades from that age, even though I still think of myself as 25!)

Put down the women’s magazines

They’re nonsense, they’re vapid and they do the opposite of building self-esteem. Plus, gossip—even it’s about people you don’t know and will never meet—is not good for the soul. Overall, women’s magazines (my ultimate dream in college was to move to NYC and work for a women’s magazine! Ha!) set you up for failure, competition and disappointment.

Less in more (less skin, that is)

I never felt more empowered by wearing a teeny, tiny tank top—I only felt exposed. Trust me 20-year-old Sarah, it’s just a neon sign that says, “I’m starving for attention.” Is that the sign you want to send? Sure, self-expression is a huge part of your 20s and transitioning into adulthood, but trust me, you’ll cringe when you look back at those photos of you in a tube top (especially during your freshman-15 year of college).

“Buck up buttercup”

I remember one of my mama-like youth leaders saying this when I was a teen, and there are definitely times when I should have taken it more to heart. I could have used it more then, and I think we could all definitely use it more today. (Did I mention that Red from “That 70s Show” is my hero, and my current favorite show is “Last Man Standing?”)

Do it yourself

Don’t ask your parents to do it for you; ask them to show you how to do it so you are capable of doing it yourself next time. The same is true with your boyfriend (and future husband Spanky at the time).

Which leads me to...

Stop waiting for Prince Charming

Of course, I found mine, but I would not put that label on him anymore (not because he is not my prince or he’s not charming—actually, I think “cheeky” suits him better). Burdening men with the whole “Prince Charming fantasy” isn’t fair and it creates a lot of unmet expectations and discontentment for their little princesses. This is not a Disney cartoon we’re living in; plus, who wants to be some chick stuck up in a tower without a hair dresser until her teens? You thought the pandemic was bad.

Listen to your elders and learn from their mistakes

There are lots of quotes that speak to this like, “History repeats itself,” but one of my favorites goes something like this: “A wise person doesn’t learn from her mistakes, she learns from the mistakes of others.” Prager said that when he was in his 20s the slogan was “Don’t trust anyone over 30.” He also talked about how wrong this idea was and still is. We can learn a lot from our elders. They’ve had more time on this big rock and so many have incredible stories to tell. Listen to them. Respect them. You don’t have to agree with them, of course, but give them grace and know that they grew up in a much different time than you did. Finally, remember that time marching on does not always equate with progress.

What about you? What have you learned during your time on this spinning rock?

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