Advice to Myself, Across 20 Years

“I once believed in causes too, I had my pointless point of view…”Billy Joel

I turned 39 this week, and I intend to stay that way for quite some time. (And if you get that reference, you’re older than me, haha.)

Twenty years ago, I was named one of Glamour Magazine’s Top Ten College Women, either despite or because of the fact that my hair was the size of a small hedge and I had no idea how to apply eyeshadow. Yes, I was a diversity hire: the crazy poet quota. The magazine treated us to a lovely weekend in NYC, including a Revlon gift bag and a visit to the MTV studios, and published our pictures in an issue with Cindy Crawford on the cover.

Earlier this summer, a Glamour staff member sent us alumnae this intriguing question:

We would like to know what you would tell your Top 10 College Woman self. If you could go back in time and give yourself some advice at the moment that Glamour honored you, what sage nugget of wisdom would you like to impart? We’re considering sharing some of your advice with our upcoming winners in the magazine.

With that in mind, here’s what I wish I could have told Jendi-in-1992:

Don’t be afraid to embarrass yourself in the service of the truth.

You have a right to believe that you are beautiful.

There are as many ways to perform femininity as there are female-identified people.

Get therapy and a decent haircut.

Someday, you will have good sex.

You don’t have to wait for someone else’s permission to grow up.

Style knows no dress size.

Don’t go to law school.

You’ve got to be your own mommy.

Walk away from any relationship that threatens your safety or your integrity. No exceptions. There’s always another way to reach your goal.

Every five years, you will completely change your mind about something important, so don’t be a butthole to people who disagree with you now.

4 comments on “Advice to Myself, Across 20 Years

  1. Hank Rodgers says:


    Delightful, and perfect! I laughed my ass off.

    I even tried the Glamour archives, to see if I could find your photo. No luck.

    Best 20 year reflections I have heard from such a “kid” as you — and what a kid you must have been.

    I love you…HAPPY BIRTHDAY!

    Hank Rodgers (a REAL “curmudgeon”).

  2. MadPriest says:

    I turned 39 this week

    Again? 🙂

    Or is that we ask next year?

  3. Jendi Reiter says:

    Love you too, friends!

  4. Happy Birthday! Yes, I recall we’re Leos!

    Great age, 39, that must feel like stepping onto another shore as I remember. And I thought I could stop there. Not true; what actually happened is that I became who I was at the height of my youth, 18-21, and the cumulative choices that tried and polished who I am now at 65 next week! I can’t believe I’ve gone this far as a friend and I made a pact when we were 25 not to live beyond 35. But we stayed on witnessing season after season of changing skies and dying roses, getting to where we are with that youth intact yet textured by deep and multi-shaped scars.

    I love your advice to the then-Jendi! Think twenty years from now and imagine how each line would read like…not quite possible, of course, as I now know.

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