We often think of advice as passing on wisdom from elder to youth, teacher to student, parent to child. The veteran guides the novice, the process didactic in nature.
But what if the coin flips, and we, as our present-day selves, offer advice to an older, more worn version of ourselves? Think of it as an exercise in self-love, a means of preserving and protecting what’s important today well into the future.
We asked members of the Wanderlust family to pen letters to their future selves. Here’s what they had to say.
Dear Future Self,
Whatever you’re doing right now, stop. Go outside. Call your parents (if you’re lucky enough that they’re both still here). Take a moment and go have yourself a proper personal day. And don’t—don’t you dare—feel guilty for taking the time for yourself.
This year has been a crazy one. You learned what love really means, the lengths to which friendship can be tested (and lost), and became a yoga teacher. You’ve lived in New York for 14 years, and you’re ready to go to the mountains. Did you? Do you have a garden and goats and a fireplace? You’ve started thinking about having children, though you’re not sure whether or not children or heading out on another epic backpacking trip is the way to go. Know that whatever decision you made, it was the right one. You’re here now, and you’re exactly where you need to be.
A couple things to remember: You learned how to honor and treat your body well this year, and how to honor and treat those around you. Don’t ever settle for the easy way—just don’t settle, period. Life is too short. And remember that this current version of yourself loves you… And that’s not going to change.
Dear Future Self,
Remember your wedding day (of course you do!)? It is exactly ten days from today. Ten days before you marry the love of your life, a man who not only puts up with your quirks (like your neurotic, gluten-free, obsessively healthy diet), but has taught you how to laugh at them and love them, removing insecurity. You had a lot on your plate this year, and despite a few major meltdowns and wedding dress nightmares, you survived. You’re going home to see your family, and 150 of your closest friends; this is pretty much the most fun ever and I hope you look back on this time with love.
Tell your children you love them, a lot, I’m sure they are incredible humans and deserve to hear it. Also, let them eat a cookie once in a while. Hang out with your mom as much as possible, words cannot describe what she has done for you over the years.
You probably work really hard, so this is an order: take a vacation with your husband, this month. Book it today, but don’t think too much about it, wherever you go will be perfect, as everything is right now, and always.
I love you.
Dear Future Self,
Take a breath. Look down at your two feet. Where are they right now? Look around you. Do you see nature? Go touch the leaves. Pick a flower and deeply inhale its beautiful fragrance. Do you hear birds? Stop and take a moment to go listen to their music, because not everyone is so fortunate enough to be able to hear and enjoy that experience. Do you feel the sunshine on your skin? If not, go step outside and be grateful for the fact that it is constantly shining down on you, and that you are alive. Go take a bite of something delicious and savor every moment with absolutely no concern around any kind of weight gain. Not everyone is so privileged to have access to food, so superficial aesthetics should be the least of your worries regardless of the deep societal impositions. How have you been of service to others today?
You spent your whole childhood yearning to be an adult, impatiently waiting for the rite of passage that would grant you the maturity, respect, and validation you so desperately sought. Now that you’re an adult, all you crave is the sweetly uninhibited moments of play and lack of responsibility that childhood granted you. Life isn’t a sprint, it’s a long race and you’re not in it just to “win.” Be gentle with yourself. Be messy sometimes. Let it all go. Embrace all of your learnings and cherish your experiences because they truly are divinely fated.
ENJOY IT. ALL OF IT. You will have enough time to do everything that you love, so stop stressing so much. You miss the beauty when you are stressed. Be here now. Hug those around you. Ask them how they are doing, and truly listen (without plotting your response at the same time). The inexplicable sensation of true connection and understanding is the best feeling in the entire world. Money is just a number. It comes and it goes. Love is the true currency.
No one lives forever so be sure to cherish every moment, and when they pass and when you pass, find comfort in knowing that we are simply souls within these bodies, and we will all be connected at some point again. Life is a gift, not something that is a given, so enjoy every second while you’re here.
Hey, Future Self,
What’s up! Life has been interesting, crazy, fun, boring, unexpected, expected—a lesson in opposition.
Despite all the constant frustration, you’ve managed to wear glitter every damn day, and hey, that’s kinda a victory, right? Your clothes are on point—a ton of of shiny stuff, colors, and general epic yoga outfits fit in your closet.
You’ve got the most epic dog, sweet friends, and an above average family (well, let’s not include your extended family).
You get to spend time outside in one of the most beautiful places on earth and you’re in the best shape of your life thus far, so that’s great.
As you continue to age, you’ll continue to get more awesome. Remember, the goal is to peak at 90 (or later). You’ve got a lot of time.
Despite the frustration, you’re on your way to making all your dreams come true (probably).
Now go on an epic vacation and buy a new outfit with your sweet bank account that you hopefully acquired by now. You’ve earned it.
Keep killing it.
Dear Future Self,
Everything that has happened has lead you to this moment. Don’t change a thing. Everything worked out exactly as it should be. All the puzzle pieces fit, all the paths make sense. All the people were meant to be. All the successes and failures and heartwarming and heartbreaking moments were all worth it. No regrets. You were and are and have been and always will be yourself, and that’s what matters above all.
Dear Future Self,
I’m assuming you’re reading this on some sort of graphene screen strapped around your wrist or glued to your face. Cool! Fancy! High-tech!
Right now your life is one giant crossroads. It’s exciting. It’s frustrating. It’s temporary. I hope you have a few more things figured out by now. But I also hope you still have some questions. Keep asking them.
I’m sure you’ve got a lot going on right now, and that’s good. Just don’t lose track of what’s important, what’s worth making time for. Spend time with people you love. That’s first and foremost, always. Pick up the phone. Make some plans. Get outside, even when the couch is calling. Camp in the woods. Build a fire. Have some wine. Stay up late. Climb a mountain. Go for a sail. Trust that things will work out, or change them if you don’t like the charted course. Eat good food cooked from scratch. See live music. Travel abroad with someone you care about. Immerse yourself in a good book. Do you have kids? Raise them right. Spend time with them. Teach them how to shake someone’s hand properly. Write down your thoughts. Tell your stories. Tell others’ stories. Listen. Set goals, both lofty and reasonable. Move your body. Give back.
And never forget to be grateful. You should be oh, so very grateful.
Dear Future Self,
Hey girl, slow down for a second—I have some things I want to share.
Some stuff is going to happen to you. You won’t be able to plan for it, pencil it in your schedule for when is good for you, or always have someone pick up the phone to guide you through it. You’re going to have to just roll with the flow, take it in, glean lessons from it, and then carry on, head held high. Maybe journal on it—sometimes insights don’t come quick, but there’s something positive to be found from most experiences in life. Focus on that.
You’re going to have a lot of mantras throughout your life that are going to help you. No, just because one strikes you when you’re practicing a hip-opener doesn’t mean you should get a tattoo of it on your forearm. You’d be covered by now. Not that there’s anything wrong with that, but mantras—like people—will come and go in your life. And as much as you’d like to you can’t hold on to them all. You best realize this now and just try and enjoy what you have in the present moment. Just because it passes doesn’t mean it wasn’t powerful or important. And you’re not silly for believing in it. Please never stop holding on to hope. It will cause you pain, but it will also help you get through the days, excite you, and make you feel like your heart is a big thing of cotton candy. Are you still eating cotton candy? Good. Go high-five that inner child we sometimes think is so silly. She reminds you of your mother. Go buy yourself one of those Spongebob Squarepants popsicles you get so excited about and give her a call. She misses you too. Your to-do list can wait.
You got this.