Dear 18-year-old me,
You’re only two years away, but if the last two years have taught me anything, it’s that a lot can change in 24 months.
I wonder; are you where I’m hoping to be, when I become you?
Did my plan work? What about it failed?
I’d like to know how many people you’ve met that have really made you think. That have really made you wonder, and change your mind about something.
How many people have you met that have changed your life?
Probably none. Two years isn’t a very long time to have your entire life changed.
Ooh, have you fallen in love yet? I’d like to think so, but then again, it isn’t that important.
Are the people who are your best friends at 16 still even in your life?
If not – why not?
Was it your fault?
If so – apologise.
Have you learned to drive yet?
I’d be disappointed if you hadn’t.
Dear 21-year-old me,
You should be at university, unless plans have drastically changed.
If they have, and you aren’t at uni, what’s the path that took you there? It must be an interesting one.
I wonder if you’re studying what you want to at 16. I love Literature now, but do I still love it when I’m you?
Again, have you fallen in love yet? Again, I’d like to think so. It matters slightly more this time. But still not all that much.
I’m not naïve enough to believe that your high school friends will still be the centres of your social life, but are you still even friends?
And the people who are the centres of your social life, your new best friends, the people you thank God for every chance you get – how similar are they to your high school friends?
How do you know them?
Was that chance, too?
Oh, and if you still aren’t driving, then be very disappointed.
Dear 25-year-old me,
Job? Dare I say, career?
Are you published? Poetry or prose? Fiction or non?
Is it anything like you were expecting when you were me? When you were 16?
How different is life to what you wanted when you were me?
Who are you living with? I’d like to think a friend, or maybe a couple of them.
Maybe even a more-than-friend.
Which brings me back to: have you fallen in love yet? It’s starting to matter – get going with the love thing if you haven’t.
If you bought yourself roses for Valentine’s this year, like I did, then it’s no longer funny and ironic, it’s a little bit pathetic.
Is 25 really grown up? It seems like it is, but then again, it also kind of doesn’t.
Oh, now how many people have you met who’ve changed your life? I can only name 2. I’d like to think that’s doubled.
Your family – how close are you? I hope you haven’t let my brothers become strangers. Remember how close you were?
Your cousins. The youngest should be 13 by now, I think. Goodness, she’s a teenager. That’s a scary thought.
Your bedroom, at home, at our parent’s house – I know it won’t be the same house, but is it still your bedroom? Or just a spare you tend to use?
It’s strange to think that someday this won’t be our home.
Dear 30-year-old me,
This seems like a good time to be expecting a family, if I’ll ever have one, and an established career too.
I guess I’d take just one, but you’d better be working for both.
If you haven’t written articles that have been published at least nationally, then it’s definitely time to try harder.
If you haven’t published your first, or even second, novel by now, then I’d be very disappointed.
Have you forgotten your dreams? Has life caught up with you, and made you forget all your ambitions and goals, and do you instead just strive to stay alive, to live day after day in the same old way?
Please don’t be that person. And if you are, take the time to stop, and think about what got you there, and why you’re being this way. Then change it.
Do you still have a headache? I haven’t mentioned this before because I’m a little afraid of the answer. If it’s yes, then you’ll be getting close to 20 years of it. I don’t want the prospect of another 15 years of pain ahead of me.
Or maybe not. Maybe you don’t still have a headache, and you look back on that period of severe chronic pain as something that plagued your teen years, but something you have long since left behind. I’d really like to think that. That as soon as I’m no longer a teen, this will all go away.
But maybe that’s wishful thinking.
Dear 40-year-old me,
Goodness. 40. It’s strange to think of myself as being 40. But someday, I guess I will be you.
Let’s check in on career again. It better be going well. Your name should be on at least two novels, and your job title have the word ‘editor’ in.
Maybe that’s being too ambitious.
My ambitions for family are a little less defined, but I’d like to think you’re a happy mum, and wife.
Your parents should still be around.
Your brothers, I hope they’re doing well. Here’s to hoping they’ve given you nephews and nieces, for their sakes, more than yours.
I won’t ask about your headache, because it’s too painful a question to have to ask.
But I hope you’re doing alright.
What’s the people count? Of how many people who’ve changed your life?
We up to 4 yet? Dare I say, 5?
But I do hope you’re doing alright.
Dear 50-year-old me,
That’s a very strange thought. You’re positively middle aged.
Now. What can change in ten years? What might have changed since I last wrote?
So much, and yet so little. If at 40, you were where I’d wanted you to be, then I’d rather not very much to have changed.
More success. More happiness. More achievements. More good stuff.
Or maybe you’re only now hitting the stuff I wanted at 40. A little late in the game, perhaps, but at least we’re getting there.
Dear 60-year-old me.
Nope. I don’t want to be 60! But I guess, someday I will be, unless tragedy strikes in the next 44 years.
This time, my questions aren’t about you, they’re about the world around you.
Are holograms a proper thing? A replacement for phone calls and texts?
Do people get little chips inserted into their wrists so they have computers on their arms, or is that just a dystopic fantasy the tech industry have?
Self-driving cars – I expect them to be the norm by now. Are they?
Out-of-body pregnancy, where they grow babies in a plastic womb somewhere in a lab. That’s supposed to be plausible by now. Is it happening?
Do we still have human surgeons, human doctors, human supermarket clerks?
Artificial intelligence is supposed to have made strides, but it hasn’t even been 50 years. How much stuff has been replaced by robots? How many thousands of people have lost their jobs to intelligent hunks of metal and plastic?
How’s the environment looking? Is earth just a big ball of black yet?
Oh, did you ever get solar panels? I’d like to think so.
44 years doesn’t seem that long when I look at it in terms of things that aren’t me. People always say how different things will be in 50 years, but what about just shy of 50?
44 doesn’t seem like all that much in terms of the rest of the world. But, really, it’s half a lifetime.
Feeling small, me.
Dear 80-year-old me,
I skipped out 70, because there wasn’t much I could think of to say.
80, huh? Nowadays, that’s pretty old, but I guess, what with all the technological advances that will have occurred at some point in the 64 years of time between me writing this and you receiving it, people live much longer.
Am I likely to even be close to being done?
I’m actually not sure if I want to know.
But I guess I’ve got grandchildren.
Are they cute? I bet they’re cute.
And do you still remember the names of your high school best friends?
The oldest friend you have, the person you’ve known the longest, that you’re still frequently in contact with – from what period of your life are they?
University? First job? First church away from home?
Maybe you should try and contact the girls that I am hoping will be in my life forever. It probably won’t be that hard, there’ll be all sorts of social media for you that don’t exist for me. Send for one of those grandchildren, won’t you, and make them help you. You’ll probably find out everything you could want to know about them in minutes, and if you do contact them, you’ll have nothing to ask, because you’ll both have found out everything you could want to know on whatever replaces the replacement of Facebook.
I’m running out of things to ask. Answers to demand. I guess you should just stop and think about me, about you at 16, and how much you’ve changed. How similar are we?
How different are we?
It’s strange to write to my 80-year-old self, and I think I’m going to stop here. I don’t want to write to me at 100, because that feels too ancient to comprehend, to weird to want to think about.
All I have left to say is that I hope you’ve had a good life, and that however much we have left is even better.