For anyone in their 20s and 30s, it can be kind of hard to accept that we’re not always at the top of our game, that sometimes our priorities are out of line and fucked up, or that we’re not checking things off of our lifetime to-do list at the rate we once hoped. This is all made just a little bit harder when there are Dakota Fannings and Tavi Gevinsons out there whose mere existence seems to imply that we should have accomplished all of our professional goals by the tender age of 15.
But there’s one voice, a beacon in the night, the voice of none other than Oprah Winfrey, assuring us that she, too, once had her shit all out of whack, and that she still went on to become one of the richest women in television, if not in the world.
In a letter to her younger self, published in the April issue of her eponymous magazine, Oprah responds to a photo of herself taken just after she got her first news reporting job at the age of 19. She writes:
In this photo you are just about to turn 20, posing outside the television station where you were recently hired as a reporter. You’re proud of yourself for getting the job, but uncertain you’ll be able to manage all your college classes before 1 and arrive at the station by 1:30 for a full day’s work. Even so, your biggest concern is how to manage your love life with Bubba. Yes, you are dating someone named Bubba.
See that? She had just gotten the job that would launch her career, but her mind was stuck on some dude who, she goes on to write, was intimidated by her success, a feeling she misinterpreted as his being “unimpressed.”
I’ve never been a huge Oprah fan, but I’ll own that this makes me feel kind of hopeful and validated. Oprah, will you now gift me with a car?