In honor of SuChin's birthday - reposting this letter. If you haven't listened to her podcast, download NOW: Open Account. (You'll thank me during your commute).
My name is SuChin Pak. I'm a mother to 2 young kids, a wife to one funny guy, a daughter of loving Korean immigrants, partner of a very awesome market in New York, and a journalist. I started in television, hosting my first teen show when I was 16 and over the years I've done local news, morning news, talk shows, science shows and for the longest stretch of my career, I was a news correspondent for MTV. I hosted and produced a show, called My Life Translated about the struggles of juggling multicultural identity in America, which turned out to be a big turning point for me personally and professionally. Today though, my life looks a little different. I'm either reporting on trends, cooking for my toddlers or working on my podcast, Open Account. I've settled a lot of the fire in my belly during my 20s, the disaster of a love life I had in my 30s and now, I struggle with the day to day identity crisis of a very selfish career driven New Yorker who now answers to mom, mama and maaaammmmaaaa!
PLEASE ADDRESS THIS LETTER TO SUCHIN PAK CIRCA 2005
Dear younger self,
So, you're finally 29, not quite 30 and certainly far from 21. What a confusing/exhilirating/demanding/uncertain time for you. I get it, you're staring down your 30s, you're at a job you love but with a boss you don't, you want your artist boyfriend to put a ring on it and you're still as insecure as you were when you moved to New York, but now you've got some experience....which basically means the chip on your shoulder is pretty deep. You thought you would be married by 28 and onto your first kid. You thought you'd be grooming for Diane Sawyer's seat. You thought you'd be able to wear heels to work like Carrie Bradshaw. Life is not turning out the way you planned. Well, here you are today, staring down 40 and I want your younger self to know a few things that may make your life a bit easier.
1. The guy you've been with for years, the guy who you love with every fiber of your being, the guy you want to have babies with IS NOT THE GUY FOR YOU. I've learned that the one your with may not be the one you should be with and that's really hard for you to accept because you've put so much of your blood sweat and tears into it. Nothing in life will test you and force you to grow up and face your demons more than love. Yes, even after years of fighting through it, you can leave and you can leave knowing that it was an amazing experience and one you wouldn't have traded in for anything and that given the choice, you'd do it all over again. But holding on to that wedding picture of the Oscar de la Renta gown you've ripped out of W magazine 5 years ago, is not how you pick your life partner. Here's how you find your life partner: LOVE YOURSELF. And I don't mean in the self help way, I'm talking about really truly like who you are...all that nasty stuff, the embarrassing stuff, the dark, deep smelly hidden stuff....love all of it, even better laugh with it or cry it out. Know that it is human to be flawed and it is your nature to be flawed. The second you start to realize that the relationship you have with your demons is the single greatest factor in attracting the BIG LOVE into your life, is the moment Mr. Right will appear. And side note, he may actually be that guy you dated 10 years ago and thought was "too nice" and now you finally have come to the point in your life that NICE is not overrated. NICE is fucking awesome.
2. Your boss sucks. But most bosses suck that's why they're bosses. Amazing, gifted, talented people rarely end up in middle management. I said rarely, because I've had the opportunity to work with some exceptional bosses. But today, at 29, your boss sucks. Your career, however is a dream. So here's the thing, just like the guy you're with, you've got to let go of this idea of who you should be that you came up with when you were in college. College was a long time ago and it was fantasy land. What this means is that you have to be open and available to awesome opportunities that may come your way, but if you're trapped in this grumbling cycle of hating your boss (or co-worker, or any other part of your job), you will never be looking up high enough to see something big coming down from the heavens. You're too busy staring at the ground wishing things were different, slogging through the mental garbage. Just like anything in your life, especially the major big things, what you have today is not going to be what you end up with and you have no idea what that looks like right now. Make peace with that uncertainty. Make uncertainty your best friend. Dream up fantastic things, inspire yourself, learn and grow, all from the space of uncertainty. It is in this uncertain space that you will find your next great passion project, if you think you already know what it is, let that go too....truly let your horizon be as far and wide as you can imagine. If this seems scary and weird...you're on the right track. Be open to the universe. It's what you deserve and are capable of.
3. Invest in people. Invest in friends, invest in love, invest in your co-workers....just let the end result go. But for now, in this moment, give the best parts of you to the people around you. Being antisocial stopped being cool when Avril Lavigne tipped the point. These people around you will surprise you....life long friendships, business opportunities, rides to the airport in the middle of the night....it's never a waste of time to see the best in someone and showing someone the best parts of you. What they do with that has nothing to do with you. Get into the habit of giving and receiving without being attached to what happens after that. Every single job I've ever had, with the exception of ONE has been because someone liked working with me. This is not about sucking up to people, it's about treating everyone with kindness, respect, love and reverence. Whether they "deserve" it or not, is not the point, the point is what you get out of giving that to the universe....this is not the makings of sainthood, this is about living in a world that brings back to you the kindness, love and respect you're putting out there. And yeah, if it also brings you work, great, you'll take that too.
So there it is for now. If you can somehow know these things, begin to even understand these things, I think your 30's will be so much lighter, easier and joyful. That's what I want you to do...lighten up, be ridiculous, laugh more. Because young SuChin, when you have 2 kids clawing at you all day long, you're gonna wish you spent a bit more time in the sun.
Love, your old ass self.
*SuChin is like a big sister to me. She is the reason I was able to get my start in New York City. She's genuinely sweet and a super intelligent badass at the same time. SuChin also officiated my wedding in Hawaii and as you can imagine, it was pretty damn amazing.