I wrote myself a letter, to be opened on the 1st of December 2029, my fiftieth birthday. I signed it and sealed it in an envelope and put it away in my accordion files. So my letter sits somewhere to be forgotten for a few decades.
It blows my mind how this could blow my mind. Inside my letter, I’ve asked my “future” self all the questions my “current” self is curious about. Will I be married, will I have children, will I have grandchildren, where do I live, where have I been, who with, what do I do most days, who are my friends, am I healthy, and most importantly, am I happy?
Nothing’s ever what we expect. I know because I am constantly surprising myself. The majority of my life circumstances these days continue to subtly make me smile. I know I have a volcano of goodness that is exploding in slow motion, and this knowing seems to be changing everything. It wasn’t always like this for me. The adventure that I call my life has had many chapters and it started a little too ambitiously before I knew some of the rules I live by now. I remember when I was about 20 years old and had just moved to the “big smoke” otherwise known as Brisvegas. I’d left the city of my parents, moved in with my first serious boyfriend and started a university degree (well, second false start out of four degrees which I would find out later).
“I would achieve the white picket fence, the mortgage, the 2.5 children, the high-paying career job.”
It was all very exciting and I was feeling like I was about to begin a serious life journey that would be successful and fun. I would achieve the white picket fence, the mortgage, the 2.5 children, the high-paying career job. It was all running smoothly … for about 3 weeks. Then the first part of the cookie started to crumble; I was becoming codependent on my new boyfriend (we were young and silly and thought all we needed was each other). I lost touch with most of my friends. At the same time, my gut feeling told me that my university degree subjects of advanced maths, chemistry and physics, were perhaps not the best-matched options for me. I was more of a right-brained arts student. So I began to cut classes and discovered my love of a nice stiff drink. The other issue was the rent. I was not working and finding it especially hard to hold a job without quitting after two days. Granted, these were the menial student jobs that nobody wanted – I held the record for the largest number of shite jobs in the shortest amount of time – I was a kebab dishwasher, a dollar shop shelf stacker, a waitress, a buffet cashier, a bookshop spruiker. All of these components to my life were crumbling like a lovingly constructed sandcastle after a torrential downpour.
“I held the record for the largest number of shite jobs in the shortest amount of time – I was a kebab dishwasher, a dollar shop shelf stacker, a waitress, a buffet cashier, a bookshop spruiker.”
So here I was, an anxious, depressed twenty-year-old jumping way ahead of the nervous wreck game. A week later it did all come crashing down, of course. My boyfriend and I cracked, I dropped out of my degree, my health declined (alcohol and instant noodles anyone?), I moved back to the Sunny Coast to my parental abode. I needed to do some thinking.
At first, I was a mess and that included the joys of a first heartbreak. Then things started to shift as I relaxed a bit. I let go of the “plan” I had been holding onto a little tightly. The plan was misinformed and full of rubbish that wasn’t me. Soon my thinking turned into doing. Within a month I had a great hospo job, I made new friends, I forgot about getting a piece of paper for a while. I started running along the beach each day. I was at peace. All this before age 21.
It wasn’t quite the end of my roller-coaster of extremes, but it was an important lesson. I learned that there is no predicting the future, so throw out the plan unless it makes you smile and it stays out of the way of living. I learned that life direction can be influenced by things that are not in your best interests, so be careful of those voices, even if they are your own. I learned that if I choose what makes me smile, generally the rest works itself out. Most importantly, I learned that at age 21 it’s okay to not have everything sorted.
So in 15 years, I look forward to blowing my mind when I open that envelope. I already know it will be a thoroughly entertaining read.