Future Self. Imagine yourself five years from now. What advice would you give your current self for the year ahead? (Bonus: Write a note to yourself 10 years ago. What would you tell your younger self?)
This is a great prompt for me (and I’m sure many others) right now. I’m doing my Magical Mapping for the next year, next five years, and next ten years. Somehow, slipping into the guise of my Future Self makes creating my year more concrete and less a vision that may or not be fulfilled. It also shifts something in my brain that allows for possibilities I hadn’t even thought of but are smart.
I’m keeping the Future Self conversation in my journal for now. I had to keep it a private discussion so that I wouldn’t be tempted to censor myself. There’s a lot I will share with other people, but some things are meant for my mind and heart alone.
What I will do is answer the bonus question.
Dear Self of 2000
Ten years ago I was 21, almost 22. I was in the middle of my last year of college, and I was weathering some stormy conditions. I don’t remember a lot about the first part of the year, but I will never forget August and the months thereafter.
On a Sunday afternoon in August of 2000, my boyfriend of a year and a half broke up with me. It came fairly out of the blue; we’d hit a rocky patch a few weeks earlier but just two weeks before he broke my heart, he’d given me a card expressing how much he loved me and how glad he was that we were working things out. So when he spoke the fatal words as he washed his hands of grease and oil from the car repair he’d been doing, I couldn’t quite believe it. It just didn’t seem possible. He remained firm however. He said he’d been doing a lot of thinking and just didn’t see how our future paths could be congruent (now I’m pretty sure it was because there was someone else in his picture).
I called my mom who came over to help me pack my things and offer solace. It was incredibly disorienting to go from living with the man I was sure I would marry one day to being single and moving back in with my parents. It took me a long time to heal the depression that accompanied Sundays from then on.
But wait, there’s more!
While I was still in the midst of healing from that break-up, my parents decided to separate. My dad went to stay with his family in New Mexico for a few weeks which turned into a permanent move as the separation became an official divorce. My already fragile state spiraled into a full-on emotional mess. My world was turned not just upside down but side to side and inside out. I was cycling through denial, anger, grief, and acceptance; every time I thought I was better I’d slide back down the mountain. That year was when I first really understood what “gold being tested by fire” meant.
What I would like to tell that self is how beneficial that hard, hard time turned out to be. I would acknowledge the pain and say that the only way out of it was through. I would tell myself that I did my best, and that it was so courageous of me to learn everything I did about myself when I could have just numbed out or grown bitter. Here is a partial list of the good that was born of all that bad:
- A friend introduced me to Deepak Chopra and serious personal growth with his book “A Path to Love.”
- I got really honest with my parents for the first time ever.
- I discovered a lot of useful stuff through therapy.
- I wrote myself a letter from a Future Self for the first time, which brought a lot of comfort.
- I learned how to be with my grief without repressing or wallowing in it.
- I was one relationship closer to finding The One.
- I found out that I can not only survive, but get stronger through incredibly adversity.
Mostly I’d want myself to know that without going through this, I could never have found the joy that can only be experienced as a comparison to grief. It’s true; the night is darkest before the dawn. And it is so worth waiting out the darkness for the resulting light.
I guess it was kind of like getting my Master’s in Life; now I’m working on my Ph.D which I’m pretty sure will keep me busy until the end of my days. Good thing I love being a student!