A few months ago, my mother brought over all of my old papers, school work and art projects she had kept over the years. Six boxes of old book reports, science projects and math quizzes sat in my bedroom for months until I finally had nothing better to do than sift through the endless mound of papers. After hours of sneezing and constantly putting lotion on my dry hands, I found a letter I wrote to myself when I was a child. I couldn’t tell you how old I was when I wrote it, but I had to be really young because the spelling and penmanship were both pretty terrible. It wasn’t so much a letter as it was a list of 100 things I hoped to achieve when I got older. Now, I say 100, but it was probably closer to 70 because I had listed a few things more than once. Of course, meeting Dylan McKay was clearly not realistic, but at the time I thought it was, so I wrote it down as goal numbers 27, 53 and 89.
It was not easy to read that list. Some of the goals were very attainable. Visit New York City and perfect my cursive so that I could write with a pen – I had achieved both of those very early on in my life. Learn French and travel outside of the country were also listed. I have been lucky enough to travel a little, once I figured out how to deal with my hatred of flying. My French is not so good, but I do know how to order a good glass of red wine, and once I fooled a real Frenchman into thinking I spoke fluent French just by pronouncing “bonjour” with a proper accent. So I’m going to count that goal as met.
The hard part was reading the goals I so badly wanted to achieve but didn’t or haven’t yet. Drive a Mustang. I’m working on that one, but to my chagrin, it’s very slow going. Own my own horse and stable. Still a dream I hope to attain one day, but is really feasible? Only time will tell. Become a famous ballet dancer – that one hurt the most. I have danced my entire life. I really believed when I was younger that I could be like one of the famous Bolshoi Ballerinas. It was a beautiful dream. One I was sad to know that I had not only given up on, but that I never actually pursued after I got to high school. Too many other things got into my way – school, friends, boys, moving – I just gave it up. I remember right before my parents and I left the Midwest to move South, my mother offered to enroll me in dance classes at Ruth Page, a legendary dance school in Chicago. But I brushed off the offer, more worried about my social life than my dream. I’m pretty sure that if 8 year old me were a part of that conversation, she would’ve smacked me and said I was being a stupid head.
This old letter to future me became more apropos recently when I started receiving e-mails from friends with a link to a website where you can write a letter to your future self, just like I did when I was younger. But everyone who has sent me this like has expressed hesitation and fear in writing themselves such a letter. I started to wonder why. One of the things that really creeps into our lives at this age is regret. It’s so easy to look back and think of what we would change and how things would be better or different because of that. I think this is why we are so scared to write these letters to our future selves. We are frightened of letting ourselves down. We have goals for our future selves, and we’re afraid if we don’t meet them that we’ve somehow failed at life. More so, it’s easy to set a goal and say it out loud, but when we write it down, it becomes more real, like a looming deadline.
But we shouldn’t be afraid to set goals for ourselves, both hard to reach ones, and ones that are a little more attainable. More importantly, we have to be able to cut ourselves some slack if we don’t reach all of them. So, in spirit of facing our fears and hoping for things to be better in the future, I’m going to write future me a letter in this post and come back to read it in one year.
Dear Future Me:
Congratulations on keeping up this blog for a year. You may not have posted as much as you wanted to, but you’ve kept it up and that’s the most important part. Hopefully you’ve at least gotten some of your shit together and that you’re in a new job where you’re happier, respected and appreciated. Keep saving up money for that Mustang, you’ll get it one day. Also, I hope by now that you’ve taken a nice vacation with your husband somewhere that required you to be on a plane for at least four hours. Finally, I hope you are taking good care of yourself and have gotten your lazy butt off of the couch and started training for that 10K you keep saying you’re going to run. You aren’t getting any younger.
If you haven’t achieved any of these goals in the last year year, and you’re still stuck in the same place, struggling to figure out the meaning and purpose of your life, I can at least say this. Your boobs look great in that top.