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Dear future me…

What I wouldn’t give for a time machine. I think we all agree there’s at least a few things we wish we could go back and change. Wrongs that need to be righted and all that, or maybe it’s just to stop yourself from doing something you’ll regret, you know what I’m talking about *wink, wink* because we all have regrets. I think it’s one thing we can agree on and despite the trend of people suggesting they are living without regret, I’m sure there would be one thing they wish they could change. Hindsight is 20/20 afterall, even if it’s just to have a chance to say a missed goodbye to a loved one who’s no longer with us. I think a time machine is one thing we can universally agree we would use consequences be damned. But alas the past is closed to us for now, but the future is always open.

Let me introduce you to the linear nature of time… kidding.

I’m not sentimental. I don’t have many things from my life that mean something special to me and the few things I have are things that survived several instances of me almost not having them. So I don’t grow attached to things when I can help it. Sure, I like things, have preferences, am a little sad when something breaks or needs replacing, but for the most part I have a strict don’t get attached to stuff rule. Because if it’s one thing I’ve learned in my lifetime it’s this, stuff can be taken far more easily than you can acquire it. To bastardize an advertising slogan, a diamond may be forever, but it’s not forever yours. Or maybe that’s just me and my experience talking.

So I can’t go back in time and grab the things I lossed, get the chance to say goodbye to my Uncle before he killed himself, stop myself from almost doing the same, or ask my mother why she never came back. I have a lifetime of regrets, but we all have problems. The point being no matter how many words I type, I can never catch up to the past because it’s gone. Time, for now anyway, is one way. Since we can’t go into the past, how about the future?

Again, I feel like I should preface this with I’m not a sentimental person (then reiterate it about 20x more to make sure you get it), but there’s something appealing about time travel and if we can’t go backwards, maybe we should look forwards instead. Now we can’t just take our time machine and leapfrog ahead in time, but we can do it the boring way, day by day. It’s not as fanciful, but we’re slowly making our way into the distant future. I’ve made it several decades into the future myself and hope to see several more!

But it wasn’t even a thought, the past or the future frankly, I feel like I’m always trying to just survive in the now I forget that there’s even a future to worry about sometimes. Not that I don’t try to save or plan, I do, but I just don’t go out of my way to imagine what the future looks like outside of some random goals I set for my career and such. I don’t think about the kind of questions I would have for my future self, or at least I didn’t until recently.

I was going through my Twitter feed, as I tend to do when I need a distraction, and came across someone asking if there was a way to send themselves an email in 2077 or something roughly that distant into the future. Sometimes you’re just in the right place at the right time even if you don’t realize it, because someone suggested using FutureMe.

I initially laughed at the idea of sending my future self an email. I mean logistically if we assume I’ll have the same email and the service will be around that long, what do I have to say to myself in the future that I won’t already know? I mean my past self is the one who needs the warnings, my future self will be doing just fine without me. But like these things tend to play out, the idea stuck for a few days and finally I decided, “screw it, I’ll give it a shot.”

It’s a free service, running mostly off memberships for those who want to support the service or have extra benefits, but it’s free to use. So I did, then I did it again, and again. It turns out I have a lot to say to my future selves and I now have a small handful of short(ish) letters waiting for the day to come when they will be sent to me. Some of them are not far off at all, one is scheduled for “just” two years, but that feels like I will have long forgotten about the service and this post. Some are slightly longer (10 years) and one was set for as far as I could set it, which was 50 years into the future.

I’m not sure how many will actually reach me, but I decided to give it a go and it actually felt pretty good. Things are changing for me right now, I have a lot of things happening and graduation is (hopefully) right around the corner, and I really hope it all turns out for the best. I’m nervous about it all and it felt nice to put it all on virtual paper so that when it’s done and over I’ll have a little note from myself and will have all the answers to the questions I’m so dying to ask. Of course, it’s a one way service, for now, I cannot hear back from future me about how it all turned out, but maybe one day.

It also made me realize that in a lot of ways this blog is a note from me to my future self. It’s nice that it helps others and that I’ve found so many kind and wonderful people who want to support me, but that wasn’t why the project started. It started so I could remind myself of where I was and what I was learning. Cheap type therapy as it were, but don’t get me wrong, I’m glad you’re all here. You know who you are, or maybe you don’t, but should!

Anyway, the letters (emails) are private, but you can also opt to post them publicly (it posts when you get it in the future and are anonymous, you cannot comment or anything, it’s purely to read and hit the like button) and they give you an option to provide a little update to your past self. At first, I felt like what I was writing to myself was clunky. I wasn’t sure what to say and it felt dumb asking questions I would already have the answer to. But after reading through some of the posted letters, I discovered it wasn’t just me who had questions for my future self. Some of the letters were short, days or months from the past, but some where several years into the future.

Some of them made me laugh, some of them made me cry, but more often than not they just made me realize that I had similar conflicting feelings about life changing and wondering if I end up on the good side or the bad side of things. The epilogues, which is what they call the responses to the original letter were an equal mix of funny and heartwarming. We all grow to be a different person in the future and sometimes that really came through in the letters I read, and I’ve read a lot of them lately. People just starting medical school, in a relationship that feels right, in a very bad place. So many letters and the responses were cathartic to read.

I guess some things about the human experience are universal and I really got that sense from reading others letters to their future selves. I decided sharing mine publically was too personal, even if it was anonymous *laughs nervously as I read my old posts* but I may write another and have it public just so I can let others know that future me made it. Like I said, I’m not sure how long the site will be around, how long my email will be the one I use (especially in 50 years!), but despite all the unknowns I’m glad I did it.

I’m grateful for all the support I get from everyone who reads my blog and my friends, but at the end of the day I don’t really have family. I often feel alone in the world, no one really knowing my story, no parents to watch me grow up and become something. I am not fit to be a parent, I can barely take care of myself let alone a child! So in a lot of ways this felt like the closest thing I would ever get to having someone looking out for me that knew me. It sounds pathetic I’m sure, but it’s nice to think that future me will be reminded that I was thinking about them and took time to send them a few letters. It turned out to be super good for my mental health frankly, even if they don’t show up for whatever reason.

But just in case, I think I’ll hedge my bets a little in the hopes that I get one (quick note, I didn’t write anything close to this to myself in my private emails *more nervous laughter*)

Don’t read until: 2034-ish

(not that I’ll listen)

.

.

.

Dear FutureMe,

I don’t suspect you’ll remember writing this, or remember to read it after any meaningfully long length of time, but whatever you always were forgetful you big idiot.

Tell me we graduated in a reasonable amount of time! You literally just had someone ask you how you didn’t have 2 PhD’s how do we not have one yet? Oh and please don’t get a second doctorate, I threw the idea of med school away a long time ago. We’re too old my dude and I did not want to spend my life working. I wanted to spend it staring at a large body of water or just floating in the large body of water and staring at the sky. Just promise me you’re staring at something other than a computer screen if you’re that much older than I am (happy 2022… lol).

Did we make it? Did what I tore myself apart to do amount to anything? Did I ever learn to stop being so dramatic? But seriously, life right now is difficult. You’ve got DARPA coming, graduation coming (hopefully), and you’re spending far too much time thinking about the future than you are about the present because it feels overwhelming right now. I’ve been in school nearly all of my adult life since I left the service and now that it’s coming to an end, I feel like I’m missing something important. So maybe I do go to med school to fill the void, but I hope you didn’t it feels like that would be way too much time to invest when you already took such a long and winding road to your PhD.

How did DARPA turn out? Did anything come out of it and did we score some serious funding for our own lab? Oh am I running my own lab?! I hope I am, despite the amount of stress and work that would come with it.

You’ve been doing a lot of thinking lately though, about your family and you miss your mom, I’m sure that hasn’t changed. I wonder if you’ve found her, I sure haven’t, but you may be luckier than I am. It would be nice to say bye at least, but for now it feels like I’ll never get that chance.

If I’ve graduated (and I hope I have if you’re reading this anywhere close to the date at the top), how did it go? I am planning to walk at my graduation, which will be the first time I’ve done it with one of my degrees. Was it worth the effort and cost of robes? I know you probably won’t have anyone in the stands and I’m sorry about that, truely. Who knows though, you plan on inviting the few high school friends you talk with to the big day, so maybe there will be some important people. I hope you’ll give me an update when I get to you though. I can’t wait to hear all about it.

Tell me COVID-19 isn’t a thing anymore. It’s horrible and completely avoidable, but for whatever reason we decided that there is an incredibly high threshold for acceptable death via transmittable disease. I’ve done everything I could to keep you safe, so you better not have caught it. So far so good though!

Obviously you know better than I do, but I hope you’re in a good place. Even if you’re not, try and be kind to yourself. It’s a lesson I’m still trying to learn. I used to think bullying myself would make me better than I am, but I think that was our childhood talking. Did you learn to be kind to yourself? I hope so.

Anyway I hope this finds you well, or finds you at all. If not then no harm, but I have been on a bit of a thing lately with writing myself like this, so it was just nice to get it out I guess.

If you do read this, PLEASE edit the post if you can and give an update, I think that would be amazing.

Take care FutureMe!

PastMe

… and now we wait, fun right?

7 responses

  1. like that

    Like

    November 7, 2022 at 3:07 am

  2. WOW, I’m sitting here crying reading your post. I too have many regrets. When my Mom called and said Dad was dying and I didn’t get there in time, then later found out his body had not been cremated yet. And then my sister who was made executor of my Mom instead of me and I am the oldest wouldn’t even let the nurses talk to me and I never got to see her either before she died. My Mom had told me my sister would do the right thing but she didn’t I didn’t get anything from my sister so I have the same feeling I’ve learned not to care about things. I just left my job and gave away free everything I had bought to live for the 10 months I was there. I just left with a carryon and flew home. I like the idea of writing to your future self But I too would like a time machine and go back to the past. My father was a PhD rehabilitation professor and when I turned 18 and graduated Valedictorian I thought it would make him proud but he turned around and drove me to a bus station and left me. I survived. But i made the decision never to have children or be a parent because I could never understand how a mother could just leave her child. So I understand how you feel.

    Liked by 1 person

    November 7, 2022 at 12:24 pm

    • That’s a lot to have to go through. I’m really sorry. I can’t fathom the way families treat their own sometimes.

      Liked by 1 person

      November 7, 2022 at 9:18 pm

    • Oh Colette, I’m so sorry. It’s so frustrating that family can be so cruel like that. I used to believe that I was just unlucky in the family department, but the sad part is that it appears that my experience isn’t that unique. Thank you for sharing and I’m glad we connected.

      Like

      November 8, 2022 at 5:13 pm

  3. This was a surprisingly emotional read. What an interesting idea to write to your future self- such a contrast to the far more common question of some version of: ‘If you could give your younger self a piece of advice, what would that be?’ Your letter was powerful in its honesty. Thank you for sharing!

    Liked by 1 person

    November 7, 2022 at 6:38 pm

    • Thank you for reading and commenting! I thought it was an interesting idea as well. I particularly like that fact that unlike writing letters to my past self, if all goes well my future self will actually be around to hear from me. It’s a surprisingly comforting thought!

      Like

      November 8, 2022 at 5:17 pm

      • I agree that it is a comforting thought and love the notion that your future self actually has a chance at hearing from you. It’s so meaningful!

        Like

        November 8, 2022 at 9:24 pm

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