Darling Poppy: A Letter to My 20-Year-Old Self

A note from Lily:

I am so excited to introduce you to my sister, Poppy Fields, seen here with the amazing, indomitable and indefatigable Jazz, writing her debut article for Lily Fields Challenge.

Poppy has been working behind the scenes to get our Newsletter up and running, has an article forthcoming for the blog, will be my co-host for the podcast (coming in September!) and has also been my tireless companion as I figure out how to stop shopping and not be an awful person in the process.

As you’ll see, she is also a woman of great wisdom and depth of experience.

With no further ado, may I present Poppy Fields!

To: Poppy Fields, age 20
The Village, Northeastern Ohio

From: Poppy Fields, age 47
As Far West as One Can Go

Darling Poppy, age 20 – 

Oh, how I know the self-righteous, indignant, judge-y, opinionated 20-year-old you are. You are lovely, fierce, motivated, curious, filled with hopes, dreams and tremendous optimism. Introverted–yes–only a very few are invited to be a part of your inner circle. But you are a young woman full of ideals who wants to conquer the world with kindness and justice.

Go to law school, go to graduate school. Get out there and do it now! Immediately!

Poppy Fields, woman of great wisdom

There are so many things I would like to tell you. The first is that, at some point in a couple years, you will have graduated from college, but will have no money and no direction. You will feel desperate to be on your own and not still at home in The Village. 

My advice is: Go to law school, go to graduate school. Get out there and do it now!  Immediately! Follow your passion for fairness and justice. Take that internship in Washington, DC! Go to law school, join the Peace Corps, apply to the Foreign Service. They would be lucky to have you. You would be awesome! Your dreams of becoming a Supreme Court Justice – all within reach! Sure, any of these will be scary – but you, smart young woman, can achieve anything. Just be bold enough to try.

If a person who professes to love you does not jump up and link elbows with you, you need to move on.

Poppy Fields, relationship expert

As you stand there in all your indignant, world-changing glory – hands on hips, chest puffed out – never apologize for being yourself. Never apologize for what you wear, the music you listen to or for speaking your mind. There will be people who come along, who will try to turn you into what they want. They will try to turn you into a pretzel, someone different, someone who has to tuck in those elbows, to be smaller, less you. 

I am going to tell you right now, if a person who professes to love you does not jump up and link elbows with you, you need to move on. They are not the right fit.  

Save yourself years of pain and heartache by taking a breath and believing that you are enough, just as you are, right now.

Poppy Fields, woman who speaks kindly to herself

You will meet the right fit. You will find the most amazing, wonderful man who is the perfect fit to your puzzle piece. This man will love you at your most ugly, most beautiful, most painful moments. However, you will not meet this man until you are 36 years old. This may seem unfair when everyone around you is getting married and seemingly has their love lives together. 

This seems a lifetime away. The obsession you have for finding someone to love you will not lead you down happy paths. Save yourself years of pain and heartache by taking a breath and believing that you are enough, just as you are, right now. Go and do all the grand world-saving adventures now. Love will be there at the right time.  

Gather ye passport stamps while ye may!

Poppy Fields, international woman of mystery

Go travel – you love it – go get as many stamps in your passport now as you can.  Within a few years, traveling to Europe will change and crossing borders once in Europe will no longer require additional stamps in your passport. Gather ye passport stamps while ye may!  Then within another short span of time travel will be severely restricted and all you will be thinking is “Why did I not travel more??” Get out there and see the world. 

You are a gifted musician. While it is true that making money being a musician is difficult, it does not mean you should give up singing entirely. Use your voice, use your talents, and make the world more beautiful with your songs.  

In 2015 you will meet your first nephew – Scalawag One – and, like the Grinch, your heart will grow three sizes in one day with a love you did not know was possible for a creature so small.

Then your heart will grow another three sizes when you meet Scalawag Two in 2017.

Because, whose heart would not skip when the littlest one whispers on a FaceTime call, “I love you Aunt Poppy!” or when you and the biggest one share a week of drawing chalk cities on their Grandma’s driveway. Young Poppy – you have so much joy ahead.

Be bold and true young Poppy,

Poppy Fields, age 47
(Still indignant, though hopefully less judge-y)

PS: The funny thing about writing all these nuggets of wisdom is that they remain true.  There is nothing holding me back from changing careers to a foreign service officer or singer or therapist or sea otter rescuer.  I should take my own advice and follow my dreams.  The only one stopping me is me.

Published by Lily Fields

I am passionate about contentment. This is a challenge, because I am equally passionate about progress. I get up at 4:00AM to chip away at a solution to this monolithic problem: how to make progress on my contentment. Born and raised in the USA, I married a French philosophy teacher in 1999. We have lived in France since 2007. We stayed young and carefree until life threw us two curveballs in the form of little humans one after another in 2015 and 2017 respectively. Now I am a slightly older, slightly more exhausted version of myself, but with mystery stains on my walls and a never-ending pile of laundry.

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