Friday, May 10, 2019

Hey Future Self! Are You Listening?

In eighth grade the teachers told her to write some letters to her future self. That was four years ago, and this week, as a high school senior, my daughter got those letters back. I'm not crying. You're crying, as they say.

Her: One of the biggest thing I learned is you need friends who make you happy.

Me: Have you ever had a friend that sucked the life out of you? Or a friend that was selfish and self centered? Or the kind who stabbed you in the back or was all about the drama? These people can make us miserable, yet we hold onto them sometimes for fear of letting go of the past or because we don't want to be lonely or because we think we don't deserve better. Well, we all do. Deserve better.

There is no shame in letting a friendship die or in walking away from someone in order to take care of yourself. I've done this a few times. It's hard but it's worth it. My life would not be what it is without my core group of friends who always have my back and who would move a dead body for me and dig the grave if I asked them to. You know who you are!

Her: I have always felt so pressured to be the most athletic person that I could be because people were always asking me, "Do you run with your mom?" I realized that I have no shame in not being interested in sports because that is just the type of person that I am.

Me: I felt a bit bad reading this wondering if she felt pressure from me. I never meant to pressure her, but I know the value of moving your body and in finding a team of support. I know just by my running all the time she probably thought I expected that of her and that she disappointed me if she didn't do it. That was not at all the case, but I can see where the 8th grade brain thinks so. I'm glad she learned self acceptance along the way (and I bet she starts running one day, just wait and see).

Well, it doesn't look like I forced her to do this 10k

Her: I think happiness is a mixture of the best thing in life. Great friends, doing what you love and without a doubt loving yourself.

Me: Okay, yeah, she nailed it here. I can't say it any better at 52 then she did at 13.

Her: I am truly hoping that in high school you have a sense of self love because 18-year-old-Emma, you are an amazing person.

Me: And, yes, she is.

Just reading her words really made me think of what I would tell my future self in four or five years.

I would tell that I hope she was brave and kept on even when the odds were not in her favor or when people were critical and judgy. I would tell her she better have reached for those things she wanted even though she was afraid of rejection. I would tell her I hoped that she had remained fearless and continued to do things that took her breath away and scared the shit out of her. There's really no other way to live in this 52 year old's opinion. And, I'm sure I'll feel the same way at 62, 72 and until I croak (<or die very peacefully with a glass of chardonnay in my hand).

What would you tell your future self?

Have you ever written these kinds of letters?

Do you think your kids feel pressured to run or be athletic because of you?



  1. I'm not sure I'd tell my future self anything, but I sure do want to pick his brains. I'm on the cusp of big changes, retiring from office work for good, accepting that I'm almost certainly never going to do another triathlon (but how do I sell my beloved bike?) mainly because of cranky knees, (or so it seems now) and figuring out what comes next. The last decade was the best so far, and the last half was the best ever. How do I make the next 5 to 10 even better? My future self knows, but I don't, not yet.

    1. I love to hear that you are living your best life!! You make me excited for retirement!

  2. My future self (I'm 49) wants to live life much the same as you: keep trying hard things that scare me, keep running, keep looking inward so that I can try to become the person my pets think I am. My present self loves that orange tank Emma is wearing for the 10k (any chance you know what brand it is?)!

    1. You won't believe it but the tank is from Walmart!

  3. I would tell my future self (currently 31) to make sure you are always pursuing your dreams no matter what perceived roadblocks are in the way. I am not a risk taker but I want to grow into someone who isn't scared to take a leap of faith once in a while.

    I wrote a letter to myself about 5 years ago that is supposed to be emailed to me at the 10 year mark. I'm fairly certain there was a lot of "please have your crap together by now".. I would say I am much further along than I was when I wrote that haha

    No kids but I do find that members of my family and friends at times feel pressured to be more athletic or eat healthier when they are around me. I've never asked any of them to run with me or eat a different way. I think its just human nature to try and conform to what you perceive other people expect of you.

  4. I'd tell my future self, Why didn't you ever save money for our future??? Now we are living in a van down by the river smoking doooobies! Oh wait, That sounds pretty good! Are there mountains by this river? Trails?! You done good, self.

  5. That’s a great concept! I tend to think more about what I should have done differently in the past. Maybe I’ll write a letter to my future self.