8 Sept 2020

Dear Louise, by popular demand...


Hello... how are you? You nearly-40-year-old in 2030, you. *sweats*

I hate to ask but, um, are you still alive?

When I wrote a letter at 16 years old to my 26-year-old self, I never considered that I might have actually died in those next 10 years. It was all future and hope, not death and misery. Imagine not thinking about death, like, 96% of the time. Bliss. 

Anyway, I hope you're still alive.

When I responded to that letter the other month, aged 26, people seemed to love it. They wanted to do it themselves and asked if I'd write a letter to my 36-year-old self, and we're people-pleasers with unhealthy need for validation, so. Here we are. 

It's your birthday tomorrow. Happy 37th to you! To us! Boy. 37. How... is it? How's your back? Knees? I know we're not OLD, don't come for me, but y'know... 37 feels a lot older than 27. Are you still doing yoga? You've just gotten into yoga during the 2020 pandemic (did it end?) so maybe you stuck with it and are actually quite flexible at 37. You definitely can't do the crow still though, can you?

Are you still running? I do bang on, sorry to bring it up so soon, but are you? Because you like running. Do you have any more scars? Medals? PBs? parkrun milestone t-shirts? Did you do another marathon? I hope so. You mad woman.

I'm genuinely finding it hard to know what else to say because when I replied to our 16 year old's letter at 26, I hated it. So much had changed (obviously?!) and life was totally different to how I imagined it, how i wanted it. I dreaded replying, I didn't want to be disappointed in myself, and I knew I had a lot more gusto at 16 than I do now. But it turned out alright, actually, I grinned a lot when I read it back. I was nostalgic seeing teenage me with that attitude but didn't miss being her, which is how it should be. But I still want to save my future self - you - from feeling anything less than happy when reading this back.

...are you happy? Where are you? What are you doing? Are you still in the charity sector? Who are you WITH? How's our family, do we have new members? I'm going to fully assume we've lost some and I'm sorry. I can't believe Nanny will have been gone 10 years.

How about our friends? How are they? I hope they're fantastically well. Do we have some new friends? I assume so, although that's weird. Where do you make new friends as an adult? Don't say online, we don't do that anymore. 

Do you still fret and overthink that you should have more - more friends, more family, more close relationships, more hobbies, more of a career plan? Be more educated, smart, funny, talented, ambitious, disciplined, kind, determined? You were looking at Cambridge courses the other week, let's not beat around the bush, you were having a flap about a warped perceived lack of success based on a pandemic, social media, and the deep awareness of your escaping youth. But deep down or, ironically, taking a step back, you know there is no empty space where you think there is an empty space... it's a process.

That was deep.

What are you doing for your birthday?

That just sounds like hairdresser small talk.

Have you got the hang of growing tomatoes? Did you get your veg patch? Are you still hooked on the Roasting Tin books? Do you still cross-stitch? Read? Do you have new hobbies? How many more seasons of Selling Sunset were there? 

What music do we like? Are The 1975... too old now? HAIM? Harry Styles? Did Lorde ever reappear? Are we still using Spotify, Netflix, Amazon Prime? You're buying an iPhone 11 tomorrow. Which number are we up to now? Is there new tech? Tell me about the new tech! Although it's probably more terrifying than exciting...

When did you go back to the theatre? What's the best thing you've seen? And when did you go back on holiday? Please tell me you went to Cornwall. Actually, a better question - did you DRIVE to Cornwall? Can you drive? WAS IT OK? How many times did you cry? Did you do your Scotland road trip? Do we like driving? Let me know, no rush, just having a panic in 2020.

I'm not going to hope for huge things for you this time. We're not in that place. Sorry to sound like a whimsy wanker, but we're going through one hell of a transitional growth period. Learning a lot. We all are in this pandemic, really (did I mention there's a pandemic, etc). I just deeply, viscerally hope you're not just happy, but settled. Physically, emotionally, financially. I hope you're grateful and kind and so very sure of yourself. How are we doing on the boundaries front? How are we doing with putting the same amount of investment into ourselves as we do others? Hmm?

I hope you've had some adventures. I hope you've tried a bunch of new things, visited new places, and made some new friends. And I hope, if anything has exploded, which I know that it will, that you handled it in the best way you could and healed from it well.

How much therapy have you had now, speaking of? Was it... good?

Did you ever win more than £25 on the Premium Bonds?

I'm sure I didn't ask this many questions last time. Sorry.

You scored a 150 point word on Words With Friends against Dad yesterday, well done. 

I'd like an update on social media, please. What are we using? Anything, or did it crumble in toxicity? Was TikTok ever banned? How's Donald? Boris? Distant memories? What a time. Tell me it's all better with affordable housing and cheaper public transport and better interest rates and no police brutality and no racism and zero child poverty and la la la can't hear you if there's a bad answer la la la la la la...

I hope, wherever you are, that you have a garden. I hope you laugh a lot and give a lot and rest a lot. Do we like red wine and mushrooms now? I kind of hope so because it's a faff sometimes that we don't. Maybe we're veggie... are we?!

It's hard to know during a pandemic what else I wish for you, us, in a decade's time apart from the basics. Just some peace would be nice. (Do you have kids? Do you say 'I just want some peace' a lot now? Why am I saying this in brackets?)

What have your 30s been like compared to your 20s? Your 20s were a ride. I wonder what the last three years of them were like. Most people say your 30s are the best years, so. Good. 

Please tell me five things you've learnt in your 30s. 

I think I hope for peace for you because that's what you want now, but I think really, in 10 years' time, I hope for more. The healthy kind of more. More self-assurance, confidence, and belief in yourself. I hope you've gone for stuff, taken opportunities, and not worried about if it's perfect or goes well. But baby steps, eh. 

I'm going to go and throw some chicken kievs in the oven now. Bye pal (if you're still alive).


1 comment :

  1. This is absolutely brilliant. You’ve inspired me and I’m going to try and write my own to my (terrifyingly) 40 (something) year old self. Thank you for sharing.