I am writing to you from 20 years in the past, specifically the year 2016. Do you remember 2016? Donald Trump was running for president. I have no idea what will happen with that, but you already know what happened, which is a little weird for me. Also, 2016 was the year you turned 24 on the 24th. Remember how excited you were about that? Do you look back on that and think that it was silly? You better not. I hate being patronized at.
I’m going to level with you, Future!Nadia, because there’s no point in lying or sugarcoating with you, is there? I think you’re old. You’re 44 now, and I can’t even imagine what that might look like. I can only assume that the future is a better place than the present, if only because Trump is, at a minimum, not as politically active as he is now. You probably have a job, and that right there is a major improvement over my current circumstances. Maybe you have kids, although I hope that they’re older now and not like, four, which just sounds exhausting at your age.I think you're old, Future!Me Click To Tweet
(Sidenote: remember that time our aunt told me how she couldn’t even have a cup of tea in peace because it was impossible to leave her kids unsupervised for the amount of time it would take to drink it? Yeah, I really hope that’s not your life right now.)
I wonder how you look back on this time in your life, my current time, the time you probably consider your youth. Do you think of it fondly as a time of freedom and opportunities? Do you wish you had done something different with that time? Do you look at pictures of me and think damn, that outfit looks hideous?
Regardless of how you feel about me in your present, I hope you’ve learned a few things in the last 20 years that I’m still working on. If you haven’t, well then, I guess you better get on it right away. You’re not getting any younger, you know.
1. I hope you’ve finally struck a balance between this:
Seriously, we need to stop vacillating between caring way too much and not caring at all. It’s not healthy for anyone, and it makes us kind of miserable to be around. There has to be some way where we can be passionate about things without becoming so emotionally invested that it drains the life out of us until we are a hollow, emotionless shell. This is kind of my main personal project right now, and if you’re still working on this in 20 years, I’m going to be super annoyed.
2. Learn to trust your gut.
There have been times, in my recent past (which is your distant one, hah), where I have had certain instincts but ignored them in favor of advice from those older and wiser than me. As you know, there are a lot of those times that I later regret, and there are some of those times that haunt me. But there has never been a time where I listened to my gut and regret the choices I made. Maybe those weren’t the best choices, but at least I felt good about them and took responsibility for them. That’s an important feeling to have, and it’s a feeling I wish I had about more stuff in my life right now. I’m not telling you to never ask for advice, because the wisdom of older people is immensely important. You know that, considering you’re an older person yourself. I’m saying that you should always listen to yourself as well as others. I like to think my judgement isn’t so bad right now, and I imagine your judgement in the future is even better. Trust your gut.
3. Live a life with no regrets.
The more time you spend wondering if you should have done X instead of Y, the less time you will have to fix the ways in which Y has gone horribly wrong. You’ve gotten better at this recently, but we both know that a part of that is general apathy about life, the universe, and everything. See point 1 above. There is a way of caring about things and being upset over things without questioning the point of your existence and wishing that you could just crawl into a hole and die, because clearly life is not worth living anymore. I know this, because I’ve seen older people navigate that path successfully. But I’ve also seen older people not be able to do that, so I know that you could go either way. I sincerely hope you’ve managed to find a way to make peace with the things that haven’t worked out in your life and know and believe that everything happens for a reason.
Also, did you catch that reference? Inside jokes with your future self. Hilarious!
4. Stop being such a wuss.
Don’t you give me that insulted look! We both know that you have a problem leaving your comfort zone. And no, trying new food doesn’t count. You are so afraid that things will turn out badly that you’re stuck in a world and a life that rarely changes. I know that you have tried new things before that turned out to be disasters. I remember those moments all too clearly, which is why I’m such a wuss now. It’s important to weigh the pros and cons of anything you try, but just because there is a con, it doesn’t mean you should write off something entirely. Be brave! The worst thing that could happen is that you end up with a super humiliating story that you share with no one and take to your grave. Or you die. But we’ve all got to go sometime, I suppose.Don't you give me that insulted look, Future!Me. Click To Tweet
Also, if you can’t follow this advice yourself, at a minimum, do not do that thing with your children like our mother does where she’s constantly telling us that we’re constantly courting death. “Don’t run at the elevator, you could fall into an empty shaft and die.” “Don’t run at the escalator, you could trip over the steps and die.” “Don’t get on the spinny teacup ride you like so much, the seat could be flung off and you could die.” I’m not saying this was the full cause of our present wussiness, but it definitely didn’t help.
5. Be positive.
There is a reason people called you Negative Nadia in college, and that is because you tend to see the flaws in everything before you can recognize the good. On top of that, you have this habit of looking for an escape route every time things get annoying, weird or boring. There are times when it’s okay to throw in the towel, whether it’s with a job, place or living situation, but that can’t be your go-to move. Sometimes you try to make things better, and you still feel bad. But just because things don’t work out in one place, it doesn’t mean you shouldn’t give the next place your absolute best shot. This is a lesson I really hope you’ve gotten the hang of by now, because what are you going to do when your husband isn’t shiny and new anymore? Dump him? What about when the novelty of baby triplets wears off? You can’t give them back to the stork, you know. Learn to deal and to focus on the good stuff.Learn to deal and to focus on the good stuff, Future!Me. Click To Tweet
6. More than anything, I hope you’re still writing.
Hobbies will come and go, and we both know that you have a tendency to get really interested in something and then drop it like it’s hot. (Remember the piano lessons? Can you still play the first bars of ‘Ode to Joy’? Man, that thing is tattooed into our brain.) Anyway, my point is that the one thing that you’ve always loved, the one thing that you’ve always been good at, the one that has always made you feel like you have something to contribute to the world, is writing. Don’t. Ever. Stop. EVER. I don’t care how busy you are with your four-year-old triplets! Find time to write about something, anything, even if it’s about how much you secretly want to strangle the triplets (which I assume is how you feel). It doesn’t have to be poetic or inspiring, it just has to be words written down.
I don’t want to hate on you, Future!Nadia. I know you’re working hard. It’s not easy to balance being a bestselling novelist and the mother of teen triplets, which is now officially what I think your life is like. These are issues we’ve dealt with for a long time, and I know self-improvement is no easy task. I’m going to work on these from my end of the time spectrum, and you work on them from yours. Between the two of us, Present!Nadia, in any time, is sure to have an awesome life. At the end of the day, what I want for you the most is to be happy with yourself, with your life, and with the people around you. I hope that when you think of me, you will remember me fondly and be proud of who I am now, which is what you once were.