Monday, June 21, 2010

Don’t look back, all you’ll ever get is the dust from the steps before*

It’s no secret that I have mixed feelings abut the past. On one hand I love thinking back and seeing how the past has shaped who I am. On the other hand I am so so glad to be away from a lot of it and I try and focus forward as much as possible.

Anyway a bit of a L. M. Montgomery obsession when I was younger inspired me (I think it was from the Emily series but I could be wrong) to write letters every birthday to myself, to be opened 10 years later.

I put them in a box and put the box on a bookshelf and pretty much completely forgot about them except every few years when I’d stumble across it and read through the letters I’d missed. Which I did again yesterday.

Mostly they’re actually a bit disappointing. I learned that my handwriting and general language has improved, that my aims and ambitions in life are vastly different to what they were in early adolescence and that what seemed important at the time is much less important now. And I learned that I was a really angry teenager.

Oddly enough three of them really stood out: one from my 15-year-old self where in barely legible handwriting it says “You’d better be happy, if I have to survive adolescence for you you’d better enjoy adulthood for me!” Another that I wrote when I started my PhD to check on general progress and re-motivate (I was quite the pep-talker at 21) and one that I wrote while I was still an undergrad at university.

I think I wrote it having realised that my teenage self had very little of value to say and so I wrote a letter for five years later before I stopped writing them altogether. I read it this morning (a year later than it was intended for but moving on) and I found it quite entertaining, so I thought I would share. It makes me cringe a little bit, but it makes me smile more.

It’s so hard to write to someone I know so little about. Four and a half years is a long time. I just read the letter I wrote when I was 14 to be opened when I was 18. It sounds so exuberant, expecting great things. It scares me that I may have lost that.

I want to change the world, to really make a difference. This world isn’t what it’s meant to be. I want a job I love. i feel like I  MAY have found it here, I know for the first time ever my holidays have a countdown to going back (37 days and counting, for the record).

this is your life, are you who you want to be?

Anyway I’m writing this partly as a reminder – I want you to sit and think: is what you’re doing good enough? Is it REALLY what you wanted all along? Do you wake up in the morning morning excited to go to work? Is it the first thing you think about in the morning and the last at night? Do you discuss it over cappuccinos (and PLEASE tell me you still clean your spoon first!).

If this is not the case get out. Leave. Quit. You’d be better off selling dogfood again, even busking or selling mangoes at the side of the road like mom used to threaten. Don’t get trapped where you aren’t happy.

Are you who you want to be?

Now for the fun stuff!

Last 10 messages on my phone:

1-4 whining from ______ Did she EVER stop? It’s not that these things only happen to her, it’s that other people shut up about it. And saying ‘oh poo!’ and ‘vomit’ I mean REALLY. Grow up!

5. S telling me I forgot E’s birthday. oops.

6, 7. _______ ditto

8. Brother’s girlfriend organising a church thing.

9. ________ ditto

10. CR, organising new years photos

Cards in my wallet: drivers license, movie card, bank card, Mugg & Bean card, student card, Scuba Diver and Advanced diver card, Exclusive books card, Videostore card, Gym card, Organ Donor card, Blood donor card

Last movie: Oceans 12, ________ whined the whole way through.

Currently reading: Garden of Beasts by Jeffrey Deaver

Number of ‘what are you doing with your life?’ talks this week?  Once so far but it’s still Sunday…

Anyway that’s about it. I’d ask questions but that’s a bit stupid considering you can’t answer them unless technology REALLY improves in the next few years. Which I doubt.

I hope you’re still diving and you still love the sea.

Did you ever get a chance to go in a submersible? I think that’s so amazing! I want to do mid-oceanic ridge biology research someday. Just a thought. Don’t tell mom.

Keep being more than just fine!

H (09/01/2005)

P.S. Your drivers license is about to expire, and I’d check my passport and ID if I were you..

So that was me at 19. Even then I appreciated that I’d probably forget to renew my passport…

*from the new She & Him album. Isn’t it awesome when the song stuck in your head fits in with life in general?


Tamara said...

How cool that you wrote to yourself. I loved LM Montgomery too.

I cringe whenever I read things from my teenage diaries, but I reckon most teens are really angry. And self-centred, if my writing is anything to go by ;-)

You've inspired me... off to put a reminder on my phone for next year about my passport's expiration date. Now if I can just avoid losing the phone until then!

po said...

love it. So sweet and so ambitious )

Candice said...

I don't know if it's because I read this post on my own birthday, but something about it has made me very teary. You are very wise, young Paduan! Very, very wise!!!

Kath Lockett said...

I love the idea of writing to yourself.

Although, looking at age 42 fast approaching, I might have left it too late. I did, however, keep a diary for the two years I lived in London as a 23-24 year old, but just.can't.face. reading about the pinings for a guy that, in hindsight, I can see was an utter tosser...!

Helen said...

Tamara: I've actually got a countdown to change my passport next year - it truly is the worst photo imaginable. I was a teenager having a bad hair day and a mild tantrum at the time, I'm amazed the lens didn't crack! Phone reminders are a lifesaver though, I've started tos et them or everything from waking up in the morning to changing contact lenses and taking vitamins!

Po: I was a bit of an idealist :)

Candice: I'm glad you liked it. Please fix the weather before your picnic this weekend or I may end up stung by bees again...

Kath: Please read them! You have no idea how entertaining old diaries are (with hindsight of course)...