Want to fall over laughing? Shake your head in wonder? Give yourself the best birthday present ever? Get a pen and a piece of paper and write your future self a letter. I started writing my future self letters in my late 20s. I had seen a character do this on a TV show years earlier and never forgot how cool I thought it was. I would write about what was happening in my life and what my dreams were at the time. Then I would write the date, time and location on the envelope, seal it and write instructions of when to open it.
I opened the first birthday letter to myself on my 40th birthday 2 years ago. I wrote it over 10 years prior at 29. I howled. I actually laughed so hard I fell over with tears pouring down my face. The first sentence had me shaking my head because it is an expression I preach in body image lectures to never grow up saying. I opened my letter with, ”How are those crow’s feet?” Apparently in the year 2000 I didn’t realize I would emerge as a body image advocate who praises the beauty of growing older gracefully and appreciating laugh lines and beautiful wrinkles! In fact, I went on to comment about my dreams of being an event planner. No dreams of blogging as blogs didn’t exist yet! And I spoke of soon exiting the modelling world (perhaps because of those anticipated wrinkles?) and, well, I just did a shoot last week — 13 years later — so that retirement plan didn’t really happen! Can you see how amusing this is?
In a nutshell, other than still being able to make myself laugh, nothing is how I anticipated it would be. The Man? Nope. 3 kids? Happy being an aunt. Career? Completely different. Where I thought I would live? Not even close. Who I thought I would be is not close either but I know if my 29-year-old self met me now, she’d think I am pretty cool and extremely fulfilled and happy. We still share the same free-spirited philosophy that runs through the core of my (our?) being and the line that ended my letter: I need to expand my wings. I just hope I fly somewhere good.
I have several future letters to read and several more to write myself. Another idea: write letters to your kids, future kids, friends, future husband, current partner — you name it. My 29-year-old self wrote letters to many of the above; some have been opened and many tears of joy — and hilarity — have been shed. I wrote several for the milestone birthdays of friends and we laughed together reliving our past adventures. Some are awaiting future dates and some have been written for people not yet in my life.
I now urge you to sit down with a pen and piece of paper and create one of the best presents you will ever receive. EVER.