Hey Kiddo,

So, let’s get the difficult stuff out of the way; you are not a professional rider. There, I said it. I know, you probably don’t believe me, and if you do, you are angrily brainstorming how this could have possibly happened. If it’s any consolation, you gave it a great try. You spent almost three years as a working student before you could no longer survive off of Ramen noodles, beans, and cheese. You maxed out all your credit cards and worked 12 to 16 hour days riding and grooming whatever you could for extra money. You tried. But eventually you made the decision to return home and get your undergraduate degree.

Now that you are aware of how much of a failure your older self is, we can continue on. Take a moment to pause from trying to fix us, and take my words to heart. While I know your favorite way to learn is the hard way (don’t worry, that hasn’t changed), I’m here to help and try and make things easier. Before you interrupt me with the possible ways to remedy the crisis that we are not a professional rider at this point, take a moment to breathe. I have already been through all the options, and for now, that is not in the cards.

On the bright side, you successfully accomplished getting your Bachelor’s of Science in Advertising and Public Relations, and managed to graduate with honors, shocking, I know. You are the proud mother of two beautiful OTTB’s, who are as spicy as they come. You managed to go preliminary and are preparing for your first international event. You’re not a total failure, so stop rolling your eyes and take this advice to heart.

Always find the time to write.

I get it, you’re busy. I don’t care. When times are tough, find the time to write. It’s therapeutic, you’re good at it, and it helps keep you sane. Plus, you’ll be thankful when it’s more difficult to take pieces out of your portfolio than it is to add to it. Also, writing is the safest way to get your frustrations out. Not everyone is on your side, wants to hear you complain, or is as trustworthy as you think. Write when you’re happy, write when you’re sad, write when you’re hurt. Just keep writing.

Quality is always better than quantity.

Life is too short for crappy coffee, friends, horses, and jobs. Yes, you need to pay your dues and learn all this the hard way, but begin to take steps to value your time, money, and emotions. Stop dating the loser boy who you think you can change. Realize that girl who you thought was your best friend only spends time with you when she doesn’t have a better option. Don’t say yes to every job or chance for extra cash that is offered to you. Treat yourself, buy the expensive wine or a few too many pints of ice cream every once in awhile. Take the time to value yourself, experiences, and know that quality always wins, even when it seems silly. Your time is valuable, begin the process of learning what is worth fighting for and when to walk away.

Be kind.

Gossip can be fun and being mean certainly can often be easier than being nice, especially when people often err on the side of being cruel rather than kind. The thing is, everyone is going through something difficult. Treat others with respect, even when they give none to you. Go out of your way to compliment others. Be the kind of person that inspires those around you to leave the world better than they left it, even if it’s just with words. It costs you nothing to be kind, so be frivolous when it comes to spreading joy and make the effort to share all the love you can.

Say yes when people offer to help you.

Yes, I know you can do it yourself. You’ve proved that. However, if you really didn’t need the help you wouldn’t feel like you have to prove it. Accept that when people try to help you they’re doing it out of love, not pity. Accept the help, from carrying water buckets to dinner, and emotional support to constructive criticism. Stop turning people away because of you’re worried you’ll be seen as weak or dependent, that’s not how help works.

Embrace change.

Your dreams will change. Your friendships will change. You will change. Accept it, roll with it, and embrace it. Life is hard. Learn to embrace the positive changes and appreciate the adaptability and innovative nature it’ll bring to your life. Take what you can from the negative changes. Life is short, too short, and you’ll lose people too soon. Instead of spending all your effort trying to reject or flee from these changes, use them to grow stronger, kinder, and become an empowered woman who is ready to conquer the world.

Don’t be afraid.

You lost one of the most important people to you to a sport that you love with your whole heart. Life happens. Don’t let that deter you from chasing your goals. Use it to make you stronger. Build a stronger riding foundation, learn from the people who care to help you, hear her voice as you ride guiding you to being the best horseman you can. Don’t be afraid just because bad things have happened. Be fierce, just like Philly would have wanted you to be. A little bit of fear in eventing is healthy, but don’t let it take over. Take those feelings and twist yourself inside out to become the rider everyone knows you can be.

I could carry on for ages, but I know you’ve already tuned me out. Don’t worry, I’m sure you’ll learn this the hard way just like we always do.