I have seen many letters to the souls of the past. This is what I want to say to myself after the pandemic, they read. Don’t be hard on yourself. You are the only one you can count on. Slower. You cannot live life afraid to live it. You will be proud of yourself! I even wrote one in 2019, a hard love letter myself in my twenties. But why look back? What about our future selves? What questions do we want to ask? What do we ask?
The Topic on Wit & Delight this month It is “show yourself”. So, I was fascinated by writing about the possibility of change and talking to a part of myself that I don’t know. I want to find out how I can feel about the future. I want to devote time to that mysterious soul. This person can have children, not have children, experience loss, grow up, find growth, experience unknown pain, and develop new habits. When we write to ourselves about the past, we know them and there is great clarity in the writing. Sure, giving ourselves past advice is fun. But is it useful? How can we better explore who we might become? How can we break the walls of the person we fear to see in the best way? How do we write about the unknown?
I want to write a letter of greater intent. I want to ask questions and find out what scares me about getting old. In a way, that’s what more honest writing does for us anyway.
When I think about it, we’re always (sort of) writing to future versions of ourselves. We write through dreams, aspirations, ideals, and healings. We imagine the future very deeply, and we struggle to focus on the present. But I want to write a letter of greater intent. I want to ask questions and find out what scares me about getting old. In a way, that’s what more honest writing does for us anyway. right?
Well, nothing happens here / everything.
Hi, I’m from the past. I’m thirty-five. I don’t know how old you are now. I imagine you are in your sixties. I have lived a full life. You were as old as your mother when I wrote this letter. I think this message is kind of a start. I’m afraid to write this. I struggle to imagine who you are.
can i be honest? You are after all. At the moment, I feel selfish. I want to tell you all the things I want in my life. I hope you have them now, you are in your thirties needy. I want a baby. I don’t want a child. I want more money. I want to live within my means. Beyond my means. I want more time. I want to take the minutes and feel like I can’t stand all the hours until the end of my driveway. I want everyone to live forever. I don’t want to suffer from deep sadness. I am very lucky. I am very selfish.
If you’re in your 60s and lucky enough to live until then, I know you’ve been through pain now. The deep kind, the oceanic kind, the dark and wide kind, you wouldn’t be able to explain it to me. Are you okay with this sadness?
I read this quote in Susan Keane’s book Sweet and bitter Recently (you should read it again and see how you feel). “If we could honor sadness a little more, perhaps we could see it—instead of forced smiles and righteous anger—as the bridge we need to connect with one another. We can remember that no matter how hated we may find someone’s opinions, no matter how brilliant or Fierce it, someone may appear, have suffered, or will.” I didn’t mean to jump straight into suffering. This must be my fear flowing. I’ve always been a very sad person. She loves sad music. You have acute awareness over time. You have a pleasant curiosity about certain beauty points in the world. Recently, I got acquainted with the Arabic proverb, “Honey days, onion days.” You are the definition of bittersweet. Do you still?
I also read in Sweet and bitter That, as we get older, we find relief over time. I imagine you’re not trying to slow it down. You are a serene lifestyle, a force of time-honoured tradition, loss, and joy. Is this beautiful?
I’m sure you’ve approached many human beings, loved them, kept them, and cared for them. But I hope you’ve done the same for yourself. Somehow, I know you will.
I also have some wishes. I hope to turn your sadness and longing into art. I hope you wrote a lot of letters. I hope work doesn’t consume you, even though you let your job walk away from you in your 30s. I hope you’ve given your parents the stage and time. I’m sure you’ve approached many human beings, loved them, kept them, and cared for them. But I hope you’ve done the same for yourself. Somehow, I know you will.
I want you to remember a few things about this time in your life. I want you to remember how light you felt when you rode Crowe, that big chestnut horse you so adored. I want you to remember how you felt when you first saw your words in print, proof of your existence. I want you to remember your little garden in front of your first house, the mowing lines, and how much you care about the lawn and impress the neighbors. I want you to remember late nights in the garage with Jake, refurbishing the furniture so that everything in your house always reminds you of work, and polish. I want you to remember the smell of hot tomatoes and summer with your little niece and nephew. I want you to remember their sticky cheeks and their little exploding sounds. Remember that Jake loves to build things for you. Remember the ocean with your mother and sister, how it feels to connect with them, and love them in the morning mist in Carmel. Remember the Northwoods with your friends when neither of you had children. Remember hot buns fried in butter in fish fries and how long you had to watch peonies grow. to remember Cravings to get pregnantthe unknown hope of wanting to expand, to the physical outside.
I also want you to remember the hard things. I want you to remember living from paycheck to paycheck, not being able to get the things you wanted because you didn’t have enough money. I want you to remember the doctor bill you’ve struggled to pay, crying on the way home from work, not imagining traveling to other countries, and wondering if your life is limited to 200 miles north, east, south, and west of your home. Have you traveled more? Do you still feel this way?
All of these things will look different to you now, perhaps as distant memories. Little Moments in your 30s that you’ll read later like you’re starving. Maybe there is something else entirely that makes you feel light. I hope you are still riding. I can imagine you still care about clean yards and nice grass. This is what makes you look so much like your father. We carry our family with us everywhere.
When you were in elementary school, you would write long lists of “favorites” so you could look back years later and read about how much you’ve changed. I was so obsessed with seeing that, five years ago, I was such-and-such and likable (God forbid!) OC And the the colour blue.
All of these things will look different to you now, perhaps as distant memories. Little Moments in your 30s that you’ll read later like you’re starving. Maybe there is something else entirely that makes you feel light.
Let’s try it again! Right now I’m really into the Brené Brown podcast (are podcasts still a thing?), Dirty Shirleys, antiquing, the Vermont Country Store catalog, cute reminder calendarAnd the Paper Mate colored pencilsWatch love island (Sorry, future), you dress like Meryl Streep It’s complicated, sleep aids like sipping Sleepy Time iced tea before bed, horse head notebooks, weather patterns, gingham accents, and how Jake looks at me when I talk about something I love. Do you still like these things? Do you wish them?
in passion diagramI write the biggest lesson I learn every month. Here is what I wrote this year:
- Resonance is important.
- Nothing but love and kindness matters.
- You are your anger. Not anyone else. Sit inside it.
- Stop expecting, trust the burn.
- Feeling uncomfortable is progress.
- Sadness is wide, sadness is a close friend.
- Nothing should be rushed.
- You can always go back.
- Hold fear and joy in equal glory. Both can exist at the same time.
- You always do better than you think.
- Good dandelion.
- To be happy, be more tree.
- Don’t go to a loud prom.
I’m sure you have a lot to add now. Or maybe not. Or maybe you think this is ridiculous. Or maybe you no longer need to create Lesson Lists.
I am happy. I have my hard days. I have bad habits. I didn’t go to the dentist to fill those cavities, so I hope you don’t have five crowns now. I’m putting a lot of money into my 401K, so I hope to set you up for success. I do my best. This is the lesson here. I hope my best in my thirties is peace of mind in my sixties.
Will people find this article on the Internet in twenty-five years? (Author’s note: Please don’t talk to me about my sixty after twenty-five.) Will they find it funny? amazing? I’m not sure. Perhaps, as in the past, Internet articles will drift like a lost bottle into the sea – small fragments of living things. And one day I will return to my former self, searching for my future. I might have to print it out, just in case.
Either way, I hope you’re happy too. I hope life feels full. I hope the people in your life will reflect how you have shown your beacon of light to the world, no matter how weak or strong it may be.
Brittany, Your Thirty (Past)
Finally, I highly recommend trying this exercise.
Writing to a later version of myself has given me some specific clarity about who I want to be and how I want to grow.
Here are some tips for trying to write your own “future self” letter:
- Write what you want to remember.
- Write down what you do not want to remember.
- Write about your favorite things.
- Take notes about how you feel Immediately.
- Write down the lessons you learned.
- Ask your future self how different you are now.
- Finally, write a note to yourself in a year, three years, five years… Put it in an envelope and write the date you can read it again.
Will she write to you?
Brittany Chaffee is a passionate and sympathetic professional storyteller and author. Every day, you get paid to strategize and create content for brands. Outside of business it’s all about a well-lit place, warm bread and good company. She lives in St. Paul with her baby brother, feline ramie and a monkey. follow her InstagramRead more about her latest book, Border lineAnd (most importantly) go hug your mom.