Dear Jessie, circa 1996:

I’m here with unsolicited advice, so hang on to your hat. This is yourself, I mean me…I mean Future You.

Wait. You’ve watched Back to the Future at least 400 times. It’s like that. I’m typing to you from the future on a laptop computer. You know how you go to the computer lab on campus when you need to type a paper or check email? It’s like that, except times a million.

(Seriously, you can’t even imagine the technological nightmare we’re about to create for ourselves. When you see your first iPhone your head will explode.)

Now that we have those awkward introductions out of the way, I want to say it’s now 2017 and everything’s okay. Be nice to that guy who answered the door the night you went to Bible study– you marry him and have two kids. Don’t blow it.

I know you’re studying hard and working at least one job, and trust me– this pays off. You might be tempted to quit the dumb job and just sign for more student loans, but just hang in there. At the rate you’re going you’ll graduate with just over $8,000 in student loans, and this will feel like enough of a burden in the days to come.

There will be job losses. The economy will get really, really crappy. And then you will hate the job you have. Trust me, keep working now to keep your loans low, and then work like mad to pay off those loans. This advice is true and right. You will not regret this.

Apparently you and Eric will be extremely fertile in the days to come, and you will have those two children like lightning. I cannot overstate how much children cost. Diapers? Formula? Those things cost the earth. Car seats, tiny baby shoes, and trips to the doctor are enough. Don’t make your life harder by adding debt from school.

Also, you will look into those cute little blue eyes (both kids have them!) and you will realize you don’t want to leave them forty hours a week to go to a regular job. This will be an actual option if you don’t take out the student loans you’re considering.

If you stop working now, you’re never going to be able to stop working later. Sure, you’ll eventually live in a little house with some odd neighbors. There will be summer days you sit around a tiny baby pool in the backyard and sweat because the house doesn’t really have enough air conditioning and you will pray desperately to the Lord above for a real job.

But you won’t actually have to leave the babies to go to work if you don’t want to. That’s the freedom you’re buying for yourself later.

So, to summarize: I know you’re really busy and want to quit the job so you don’t have to juggle your schedule all the time. But you’re actually saving your future, so keep at it, sister.

Amen and goodbye,

Future Jessie