When we reach a big life milestone, it’s natural to want to reflect on where we’re at in our lives. Here, blogger Anna Newton pens a letter to her future self as she approaches the big 3-0, drawing on lessons she’s learnt so far, and those all important intentions for her future
Hello future Anna!
How are you doing? Has The Office finally come to Netflix? Are avocados still trendy, or are they laughed at like the ‘devils on horseback’ dish from the 80s? Can you believe that we used to drive cars with our hands and feet?!
Here’s the thing with writing a letter to your future self – one day you can actually look back at it and read it. If only I had access to the implanted microchips that you now use for diary entries, I’d schedule a reminder for 20 years time to check this out. Instead of looking back at what advice I’d give to my younger self, it’s a chance to review where I am now, how I got here, and have a look into a crystal ball to set intentions and hopes for the years ahead.
This year, 2019, will see me turn 30. An age by which, when I was younger, I imagined I’d be married (I have found myself a lovely fella, so have checked that one off the list), own a house with a garden (haha!), and have started a family (hahahahaha! x100).
But here’s the thing, life doesn’t always turn out how you planned – which I’m sure you’re even more aware of now. In fact, life has a funny old way of turning things completely on their head, providing challenges which hurt like hell sometimes, but can often give us a chance to grow, and teach us a lesson worth learning.
So what have I learnt in the past 29 years? Well, sometimes what you think you want, isn’t actually what you want at all. I’ve learnt to forge my own path, and not the one drawn out for me by others. Hell, I went completely off-piste and became a self-employed blogger, and I couldn’t be happier thanks to my jump into the deep end, and off the corporate ladder.
I’ve learnt that family and friends are everything and, just like you need to be there to buoy them up sometimes, the ones that are worth their salt will return the favour when you need it most. I’ve learnt the hard lesson that you can’t be everyone’s cup of tea. I’ve learnt to congratulate a friend on their achievements, without comparing their life timeline to mine. I’ve learnt about teamwork, decision-making, interest rates, and what the hell to do when the pipes freeze over, and the shower doesn’t work. I’m learning to adult.
Now the key emphasis is on ‘learning’ there, because I’m not sure that we ever feel our age, nor do we ever feel like we completely have a 100% understanding on life. That is the one thing that I know to be true at the grand age of 29 – you never stop learning. Whether it’s facts and figures, problem-solving techniques, or you finally work out how to expertly apply eye-liner (please feel free to share), there’s always room for development.
If you’re having a tough time, there is only one remedy. Laughter
Here are two things I’m still working on – how have I done? I’ve spent my life being such a people-pleaser; always looking to appease others, whether I agreed with their actions and opinions, or not. It’s a work in progress, but going forward it’s something that I really want to improve on. Standing my ground, being more assertive where necessary, and learning to have a stronger stance. I think this confidence in your own beliefs is something that comes with age, but being the neutral-ground lover that I am, it’s something that’s going to require some effort, too.
The other thing that I’m learning is how to step away from work. Being a blogger, my home life, work life, and social life, can become a little tangled, and so I really hope that I’ve managed to find some balance between them all. That I’ve learnt not to have my phone in my hand five hours a day (shudder), and not to feel guilty for stepping away from work when it’s time to play, because you’re never going to regret finishing early one evening to go out for dinner, a film, a meal, a walk round the park – those moments are the cherry on the top and hey, I have an extremely sweet tooth.
When you’re reading this, future Anna, ultimately I hope you are happy. I hope you’ve had a rollicking good time so far. I hope you finally have a garden! A house! I hope you managed to have a family of your own, and cry through every single Nativity play and carol concert like mum did at ours. And if not, I’m sure you’re a cracking auntie. I hope you’ve continued to flex your creative muscle in your job, and I hope whatever you’re doing for your career still makes you as happy as it makes me now.
Life has probably thrown a couple of curveballs at you over the years, and I’m sure they’ve made you stronger. Loss completely sucks, and is inevitable as you get older, but I have no doubt that you would have developed a way to cope – and that it’s made you more thankful for the people in your life, and has given you even more of a reason to spend quality time with your nearest and dearest.
If you’re having a tough time, there is only one remedy. Laughter – and lots of it. Remember when you and Mark used to crank up the Sonos (I’m guessing these are as archaic as a cassette now), dance around the kitchen, and give your neighbours a show that Craig Revel Horwood would have given a two? Or that time when Sammy jumped on top of the footstool and sang Britney Spears like her life depended on it? Call your friends immediately and book in a karaoke session. Is No Doubt’s ‘Don’t Speak’ still your karaoke song?
Essentially, future self, I hope you’re happy, healthy, loving life, and still learning – and that you continue having a hella load of fun.
Anna is a content creator and author of the life organisation manual ‘An Edited Life’ (Quadrille, £16.99). Follow Anna Newton on Instagram @TheAnnaEdit for more.