One of the best discoveries I’ve ever made was a website back in 2007 called futureme.org. As a young and naïve 14 years old I composed an email to be sent a year in the future that read like an MSN conversation. I think I genuinely believed that I’d receive a response from my future self answering my questions.
What actually ended up happening was that I received the email in 2008 and realized that I could capture a small moment of a single day and magically transport it a year later to remind myself of how things were, what I’d been worrying about, and what I’d overcome.
Happiness is an elusive and slippery creature, one that many of us know well and yet will never fully control. I moved in with my parents after a nasty heartbreak and found myself half a world away, quite literally as I’d moved from Eugene, Oregon to Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam. This following letter is now my go-to guide for good advice. It’s all about the small, positive changes I've been trying to make while embracing and loving my flawed, pizzaholic ways.
Dear FutureMe (January 1, 2016),
This isn't my usual time of year to start writing futureme emails, but I'm in Vietnam and it's mid-November and the sun is hot and high in the sky and fuck me it feels like June.
Oh what a year it's been. From the ups and downs, you've survived, but here you are. People have really tested you this year, and you know what screw them. So listen to this little nugget: you can be so naughty sometimes, and you can't forget how capable you are of deliberately sabotaging yourself.
This is a wake up call (email?) but not in the same way as I've told myself off in past emails by making empty promises ("You WILL lose that 10 lbs that you've been trying to lose," Siân, 2009, silly 16 year old). This is me reaching out and reminding you that you are human.
Life gets tough, and it is SO easy to reach out for the "last" beer, or just one more slice of pizza (you're a genuine pizzaholic, don't try to deny it), or attempt to cut off all contact from the outside world. When this happens though I need you to be able to get out of bed, look at the new day, and not let the fear conquer you but make a conscious decision to conquer your fear.
I'll tell you this for free, right now I am terrified of everything; scared I'll never fall in love again, scared I'll be living with my parents until the end of time, scared I'll never make friends in Vietnam, scared I'll never live up to my full potential and it's bullshit.
No. More. Excuses. You're better than that.
January 1st, 2015 you started two different project: the first, morning pages which were demanding (five pages of prose every morning immediately after you wake up) and the happiness jar (now a ziplock bag containing slips of paper with one happy thing on from each day). Guess which project you stuck with? The one that required consistency and positivity but didn't demand you to change absolutely everything all at once. Guess what I'm asking you now? Be consistent and positive. Fuck it - have some pizza, but don't eat the entire thing. Cry because you miss the friends you left behind in Oregon, because it's natural to miss them with all your heart. Have days when you don't leave the house and watch a little too much Netflix.
But also be positive and show me that you can choose to go dancing and meet new people instead of staying in again. Offer to do something new that frightens you and surprise yourself. Make yourself vulnerable to a whole new city of people with the potential to find some amazing friends amongst them.
Don't give up: you've only been here one month, and you're doing great so far. Show me that positivity and consistency. Grab life by the hand and lead the adventure you want to go on, stop waiting and expecting for an adventure to come and find you in your own living room, it's never going to happen.
As always, I love you. You're capable of amazing things; you're resilient to life's challenges, you're able to adapt to change and new environments, and you demonstrate compassion and love every day. Never stop, but also never forget.
You are the captain of all this, and I can't wait to see what adventures we go on next. Cheers, babe! Let's show them what we got (November 19, 2015).