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What I Would Tell My Younger Self On This Birthday

I remember being in my twenties, and this day felt like a lifetime away. Fifty seemed so old, and yet, being here, I feel a sense of awakening and purpose like I never have before. My life has finally come into focus, and all the things I worried about when I was younger no longer have weight and merit.

City Farmhouse by Jennifer O'Brien. Westhampton Beach.

It’s also a bittersweet birthday because my oldest sister Jackie passed away at 48, and I didn’t get to see this decade. But like I’ve said many times, I honor her by making this season count. If my oldest sister had been here, she would have planned her entire summer vacation around my birthday and ensured it was epic. That’s just the kind of sister and friend she was.

City Farmhouse by Jennifer O'Brien. Westhampton Beach, New York.

So as I approach fifty, what would I tell my younger self? I’ve thought about this a lot over the last few months. As some of you know, I stopped drinking in January for three months to reset my relationship with alcohol. I was only a few glasses of wine on the weekends, but I had so much inflammation, making my anxiety bonkers. Since then, I’ve had only a few drinks socially. I tell you this because the clarity that came from not self-soothing and numbing myself was life-changing. For the first time, I sat in who I was and owned the fact that I was a serial people pleaser for far too long.

I also realized I liked who I was. For years I aspired to live wholeheartedly (Brene Brown), but honestly, I didn’t know how to get there. I was so caught up in being what everyone needed me to be to feel loved and whole. The old me was feeling joy and happiness when others I loved in my life did. I glossed over the fact that I needed to belong to myself above all else.

City Farmhouse by Jennifer O'Brien. Westhampton Beach. The Hamptons. What I would tell my younger self.

My advice to my younger self is…

  1. Be proud of your body now, today. You will never be this young again, so stop pointing out every flaw, blemish, wrinkle, roll, and curve. Someday you will pull up a photo and think, what in the world was I complaining about? I looked good. Along with why was I so hard on myself?
  2. You’re going to make mistakes, and it’s okay. You don’t have to be perfect to be loved and valued. I need you to ingrain these words into your mind. You won’t get this memo until much later in life, so I am reminding you now to stop being so hard on yourself.
  3. Be present. In the blink of an eye, your boys will get older. The good days will pass, and the tough days will be but a blur. You will be left with a heaviness in your heart because you were so overwhelmed and looking for an escape. You won’t get a do-over with time, so make it count. Trust me when I tell you, you’ll never regret putting that phone away, waiting to fold the laundry or tidying the house. The kitchen is clean enough, go sit down
  4. Take care of you! Take many breaks, take girls’ trips, pamper, ask for help, don’t forget to exercise, and most importantly, don’t forget about your mental health. Being a martyr won’t make you strong, making your needs a priority will. Someday, you will be grateful you did. And your kids will, too, because they have a mom who values herself as much as she values them.
  5. Hold onto your dreams, they’re sacred. You will have people along the way who will try to bump you off track, snuff your light, who will belittle your hopes, and pop them like a balloon. Guard them with your life. You will prove them wrong and one day leave the shadows and walk in the light you were meant to. And always The Man In the Arena quote. Or should I say, Woman?
The Woman in the Arena print, Society 6

You can buy this print HERE.

I am off to Montauk for the weekend to celebrate. Happy day friend!

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  1. Have a great weekend. Be grateful for every minute! Happy Birthday!
    I lost my oldest , only sibling when she was 39. Life goes on.It isnt the same though. I think a deep relationship equals deeper pain.

  2. Thanks for your blog today. Our life isn’t based on reaching society goals. I have broken most of their rules and probably some of their laws. I try to stay within my own boundries. Rule number one: To your own self be true.

  3. Happy birthday – wishing you good health and good cheer – May God bless you and your family!

  4. a very healthy and happy birth-day to YOU Jennifer … and I thank you for all of the uplifting and encouraging vibes you put out for your blog friends to enjoy each reading, thank you for being YOU ! Enjoy this wonderful day! Jayne (Canada)

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