When I was something like 20-year-old, I wrote an e-mail to myself into the future (via futureme.org). “Dear Future-me” was to be received in 20 years, so I still have some time. Without recalling anymore what the letter was exactly about, yet remembering myself at that age, I must have asked my future-self if all my 100 wishes have been realized (the list I made after graduating from lyceum). Ironically, already now, nine years ahead of schedule, I have received, achieved, done about 95% of them. The initial wishlist also transformed into several dream boards and eventually into the Life Plan I already mentioned before (link).
A lot has changed since I was 20, not only my hair style (yeah, I switched that curly red mess for my natural dark-brown straight). I have studied and worked abroad, started a family, moved from the city to the countryside, totally forgot Greek, learned Dutch, mastered a whole bunch of other completely unimaginable skills, like cooking or gardening, traveled all over the world, including China and South Africa,… Yet back then, at the age of 20 I was an Assistant Lawyer in one of the Latvian law firms specialized in intellectual property protection. I was working from 6:30 in the morning until 6:30 in the evening and afterwards ran to the Law faculty to study until somewhat around 10. I was working hard, playing hard, dreaming to see the Great Wall of China, learn to play golf and have a house with windows from floor to ceiling… (check, check and check)
The other day I stumbled upon a project that one of my Facebook-friends wants to realize. The essence of it is to record a short video message to your 18-year-old-self. I didn’t qualify to participate since she wanted somebody 35 and older (still too young! giggle!). However, I gave this question some thought and that’s what I wanted to share today. I changed 18 for 20, but in the end it doesn’t make that much difference.
So what would I have told to my younger-self? I must admit I was puzzled at the question. Would I warn myself about certain mistakes before they occur? I have done quite some mistakes in my life: some minor, some more significant. However, what I wonder is whether I would have become the person that I am today if I wouldn’t have made these mistakes in the first place. Carrie Bradshaw in one of the episodes of “Sex and the City” asks exactly that:
Maybe our mistakes are what make our fate. Without them, what would shape our lives? Perhaps if we never veered off course, we wouldn’t fall in love, or have babies, or be who we are.
To think about it, that might be true. So I wouldn’t want to skip these mistakes, because I would also skip their consequences: the knowledge, the reflection, the connections with some people. Nonetheless, if I would say to my 20-year-old-self that she is doing everything right and she should just keep on doing what she does, that would also not be right. Those were mistakes after all.
Would I tell myself not to give up? Nope. I gave up on several occasions, when I realized that additional efforts don’t make any sense. It is actually a very important skill – to be able to give up, to take responsibility for your own life and decisions. And do what you feel is right, not what somebody else expects of you.
Would I tell myself that I will succeed and that I will have everything (or almost everything) I dreamed of? No, I wouldn’t do that either. I anyway always believed in that, but I also always had a small hint of uncertainty which only made me work harder. Maybe that’s exactly the reason why I have it all.
Would I tell myself some specific things like which are the winning numbers for Euromillions? Tempting, ain’t it? (giggle) But no. The thing is – I am happy with my life as it is, I am happy with where I am and where I am heading to. I must admit on some points I would be heading much faster if I would have had some millions on my account. Nonetheless, I am absolutely convinced that I will get where I want anyway. And if I suddenly had won the lottery at the age of 20… I don’t know where I would have ended, but I wouldn’t be me now.
So my letter will be short:
P.S. Yes, that is a 20-year-old me on the featured image for this post…