Dear 26 year old Val,
Happy Birthday and welcome to Australia! In a few weeks you’ll land a job that will change the trajectory of your life. Lean in.
8 months after that you’ll be christened Valerie by a daytime DJ in a dank basement tittie bar in Times Square, New York. He will advise you that V names remind people of vagina hence translating to more cash in your hand. You, being inexperienced in marketing, figure why the hell not.
Several months later a local rapper in a Memphis tittie bar (yes, tittie bars become a major theme in your life) starts calling you Valerie Stunning and continues to do so every time he patronizes the club, which is often. He won’t spend much money but he’ll be generous with his bottle of Coconut Ciroc. You being inexperienced in business accept this as valid payment for a few minutes of your sparkle and time. Valerie Stunning will then go on to become your nom de guerre as an entrepreneur, writer and community organizer.
Over the next decade you will dream wildly, live freely, experience deep meaningful love, experience deep meaningful heartbreak, become a blond (you’ll look great, trust me), create with reckless abandon, dazzle thrill seeking audiences, live in several countries, learn a new language, unlearn a lifetime of patriarchal brainwashing, become present in your body, hone your intuition, start feeling your feelings (terrifying but worth it), provide your own seed money for an exciting start-up and meet countless women & femmes who will inspire you to become a better human.
You will also make many mistakes. Embarrassing, cringe-worthy, heart-wrenching mistakes. And you will be humbled time and time again by the startling revelation that you can not (gasp!) control everything. And that perfectionism is a moot fucking point.
If I could bestow a few pearls of wisdom, it would be this:
Quit putting so much pressure on yourself.
Prioritize your mental and spiritual health as much as you do your physical health.
Take real days off and lean into actual rest.
Drink less alcohol.
Write more frequently.
Learn vulnerability and practice it daily.
Learn patience and practice it daily.
Spend less time in the future.
Spend more time in the present.
When you wake up in ten years, you will be stronger, wiser and more accomplished in ways you can’t even fathom. Which is saying a lot for your idealistic Aquarian-ass. Continue to stay open and curious for all of the wondrous things that will happen for you. AND KEEP SHOWING UP.
I’m proud of you every day!
Your 36 year old self.
PS. Yes, you of all people now have a dog.