Twenty-Two Things I’d Tell My Twenty-Two Year Old Self, by Emily Freeman

*This post is the first in a series of guest posts written by women in my life I have a deep, deep admiration for. Women who have invested in me [in more ways than they will ever realize], whose words and actions I look up to, and who live life with a passion for grace and speaking bold & beautiful truth into a broken world.

I’m so, so deeply honored to share this post, written by one of my favorite authors, Emily Freeman. Thank you, Emily, for sharing this with my readers and for reminding me time and again how important it is to slow down, recognize our own smallness and understand the importance of Tuesday mornings.*


It’s tempting to tell my twenty-two year old self one thing and one thing only: Please, for the love of mothers with muffin tops everywhere, enjoy your body now! Do it!

But this seems terribly shallow.

Instead, I’ve thought of how most of what I would want to tell my younger self can be summed up in these wise words from my Dad: “Wherever you are is a good and important place. Start there.”


At twenty-two I vaguely felt like I was waiting for something – life, greatness, beauty, confidence, and love. Everything felt ahead of me and some things felt behind me. But I didn’t have a good grasp on the present.

I think that’s why Dad’s words ring so true when I think of myself at twenty-two. It was hard to imagine the present as not only okay, but as “good and important.”

With that in mind, here are twenty-two thoughts I wish I could whisper to my twenty-two year old self:

1. You are never going to feel like a grown up. Not when you get married, not when you have kids, not when you get a real job. In the deepest part of who you are, you will always feel like you’re waiting for the grown ups to show up and take care of things. This is normal and fine. You’re going to be okay.

2. Speaking of the deepest part of who you are, you were made by the hands of an Artist and you are a co-creator with Christ on earth. That is a fancy way of saying you are an artist and you were born to make art. Throughout your life, you’ll do this in a million little ways.

3. There is no one right way to be human. There is only you, being yourself, walking with Christ into the lives of other people.

4. Just because you’re good at something doesn’t mean you have to do it. Sometimes you’ll be asked to do something you might do very well but they are not your job. Release it.

5. Just because you’re terrible at something doesn’t mean you shouldn’t do it. Sometimes you’ll be asked to work within your weaknesses and this will be your sacred assignment. Embrace it.

6. We are all wounded. Be kind.

7. Forgive yourself. For everything. In this, be swift and relentless.


8. Let yourself be quiet. You know that pull you feel to be by yourself sometimes? That scatterd-ness that comes when you don’t have time to stare out the window? Listen to it. It isn’t a character flaw and there isn’t something wrong with you. Your soul needs space to breathe. Let her.

9. Don’t apologize for crying. Your tears are kind companions, tiny hints to where your heart beats strong. Listen to them.

10. Find your brave yes.

11. Fight for your strong no.

12. Make friends with change. She isn’t going anywhere.

13. Embrace the shadows you find in your faith. I know right now they scare you, but they don’t scare God. Walk into the fog if you need to. It’s okay if your soul needs a little space to sit quietly in the shadows before she’s ready to embrace the light.

14. Stop waiting to be picked. Pick yourself.

15. The best way to sabotage your own success is to compare it with someone else’s. Her success doesn’t take one thing away from you. There is room at the table for you both and we need what you both have to offer.


16. Release your obsession with building a life and trust in the life Christ is building in you.

17. Just because you’re struggling doesn’t mean you’re ungrateful. It’s tempting to toss aside your own concerns because you’re afraid they aren’t as bad as someone else’s. You worry if you acknowledge the hard parts of life, it somehow exposes you as ungrateful. The truth is, grief and gratitude can (and often do) coexist.

18. As much as you can, hold on to being a beginner. It might seem like everyone else has it all together but they don’t. The sooner you realize this, the more you’ll be free to enjoy the beauty of beginning and the humility, adventure, and openness of learning something new.

19. Learn to rest well. Your future self will thank you.

20. Look up at the sky as often as is possible and remember your own smallness. Let this not be a discouragement, but a gift. You are not in control of all the things and you don’t want to be.

21. Time doesn’t heal all wounds, but friends and laughter make them easier to face.

22. You are loved and you are safe.


Isn’t it true that the things we would tell our younger selves are really things we need to remember now? That’s how it is for me. Twenty-two or thirty-seven, it doesn’t really matter. We are all longing for connection, acceptance, security, and love. In Christ, we have these I know.

Some truth takes a lifetime to live into. Let’s be patient with ourselves.


Emily P. Freeman is the author of four books, including A Million Little
: Uncover the Art You Were Made to Live
 and soon to be released Simply TuesdaySmall-Moment Living in a Fast-Moving World (Aug 2015).

She believes the soul is often forgotten beneath the demands of everyday life and considers it part of her life work to create safe spaces for your soul to breathe. You can find her writing and Chatting at the Sky from North Carolina where she lives with her husband, John, and their three kids.


8 thoughts on “Twenty-Two Things I’d Tell My Twenty-Two Year Old Self, by Emily Freeman

  1. This is great. Every young woman should have this list. I have lived to reach 50 and beyond and I can tell you from experience that this list is needed at 22 and it needs to be read at least once a year thereafter! I remember when I was 16 telling myself that when I’m older, maybe in my forties, that I would have it all together and not be so afraid. If I’d had this list that would have saved years of worry and frustration! Because inside? I still feel 16. We never arrive, it is always a process and we have to let the one who knows us best and loves us without condition do the leading. Amen, Emily! So much truth in this list.


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