Today, I’m thinking about life, my life. Past, Present, Future. I’m thinking a lot about my future. Yesterday, a friend of mine told me about a seminar she attended where the speaker said to write a letter to yourself 15 years into the future. That thought fixated on my mind. What will I be like in 15 years? Will I have left behind my sometimes childish and naïve optimism? Will I have finally donned that cape of cynicism that this world is constantly trying to throw over me? Will I have grown into myself, into my dreams? Will I have made some of my dreams reality and still be chasing more? Or will I have left those ‘impossible’ dreams behind for good and faced monotonous reality? Who will I be? Where will I be?
See, I’m of the firm belief that life changes rather fast and unexpectedly. I’m a living example of that. Entering into 2016, I had a much different life. Different friends, different routines, different hobbies, different attitude, different outlook about life than I do now, leaving 2016. The difference is quite overwhelming. In 2017, who knows what my life would be like, not to mention all the way in 2031. It’s scary to think of, growing up, having my own family, being on my own for good. I’ve always been a tad bit too independent but that independence stemmed from the assurance that I have people to run to if I ever needed to. But 15 years from now, I’d have lost all privileges of adolescence, all excuses for my actions. There’d be real responsibilities and real consequences for my actions. It will be a wonder if I don’t go mad from it all.
So because I don’t know what my future holds, I will write a letter to the 34 year old me. A reality check of some sort, in case I have given up on all the dreams I have now, or gone off the straight road; in case I’m caught in a two-year-running fight with my present friends, in case I haven’t been speaking to my family. Just to help me remember what’s important to me right now and what should still be important to me, 15, even 50 years down the road.
I’m not sure how this all goes. I’ve never done it before so if it sucks, bear with me.
How’s it going? How’s life? How does it feel to be 34 and all grown up. Is it as scary as you thought it would be? Was growing up as excruciating and painful as you thought it’d be? You did eventually grow up, didn’t you? I hope you’re still secretly a bit childish though. At least in the way you look at life.
Right now in 2016, you’re loving life. A lot changed this year. You have new habits, hobbies. You let go of some old friends though you know you won’t ever forget them and the impact they had on your life. You made some new friends and are getting less socially awkward everyday. You are attaining a new spiritual level, learning more about God and yourself. Your relationship with your family is good, better than before, possibly because of the way you’ve changed this past year. You miss your brother who’s away at school right now and even your sisters and your parents who are only a few miles away. You still live in the pale orange house in Medina Estate, Gbagada and you love it. Your room there still smells like something died (I’m certain there’s a rat there somewhere) and you still can’t sleep in there for now. You still have a strong running relationship with your t.v. Pinterest is your favorite app. You love purple, black and grey. You are still a bit of a tomboy and still stubborn as a mule. You have big dreams about doing something creative with your life, of becoming someone inspiring, influential, and impacting people’s lives. You’re in med school, still wondering wondering how it (med school) fits into those dreams of creativity. You don’t have a boyfriend and right now, you don’t mind, especially seeing your classmates make a muck of the dating scene. You’re trying to figure out who you are; you still worry about your looks, weight, your talents. You struggle with trusting people and even yourself. You still believe that the only one who will make you priority is you. You still have weird tastes and consider that a part of your identity. You love to learn and try new things. You’re in love with life, with the ambition to experience everything experienceable (yes i know it’s not a word) a.k.a everything in your ever-growing 100 before 100 list. Your writing is still going impossibly slow but you’ve not been able to quit. You haven’t found anything you love doing more. You’re scared that you’ll never be a real writer, that you’ll never measure up to actual authors. You’re scared that all those stories and characters will die with you, never having seen the light of day. You’re scared of what the future holds. You’re scared. Period.
So what did the future hold for you? Where are you right now? Did you leave Nigeria for good. If you did, I know it must have been a tough call because you vowed never to leave the country you love so much. Have you gone on your world tour yet? How was Spain? Paris, Greece, Rome? Have you learnt any foreign languages yet. Did you ever get the hang of Yoruba. Have you become fluent in Igbo? Learnt to play the guitar? You wanted to for a long time. Are you seeing new places often, going to the water park on impulse and spending the weekend in Dubai when you feel like. Or at least going to the amusement park? I hope so. That was the plan.
How’s your life? Is it everything you dreamed? Probably not. Are you okay with that? Are you married with an adoring husband and 5 children? Not up to 5 kids, huh. That’s fine. As long as there’s a pair of twins somewhere there. No twins? Bummer…kidding. I know your kids are adorable, and precious and I can’t wait to meet them.
How’s mummy and daddy? How are they? I hope they’re still alive and well and proud of you. I hope you visit them often. I hope you’ve not forgotten everything they’ve done for you, all the sacrifices they made for you, all the things you’ve learned from them.
How are those three you call siblings. How are they? I hope they’re doing fine. I hope you talk to them regularly and keep them on the straight road like a big sister is supposed to do. I hope they love God like they’re supposed to.
On that note, how is your spiritual life? I hope by now, you’ve reached and broken through the height of your relationship with God. I hope you remember what the Lord did for you in one certain trying time that we both remember. I hope you’re still grateful and that you love him more everyday.
How are your college friends. Do you still talk to them? I hope so because they’re a big reason you changed so dramatically in 2016, why you began to love life so much. They mean a lot to you. Remember that.
How is your writing going? Have you published any books yet? How did it feel to hold a completed draft in your hands, a published book? How did it all feel? Do you still dream of getting the stories turned into movies, making and producing movies? Are you on your way to achieving them? Remember not to get anxious about anything. Life’s not short. There’s still time enough to get there, if you still want to. Please want to.
How did Med school end? Was it all worth it at the end. Are you using your degree to help Children and Adolescents like you hoped?
How is Nigeria, our dear fatherland? Are we still struggling for change. I hope not. Is the world unified yet or is everyone still fighting each other? Who won the LGBTQ war? Did a woman ever become president of America, Nigeria? Did the ozone layer finally cave in on us?
And the most important question…Are you happy?
I hope so.
Do me a favour. Get your family, all your old friends, your new friends, everyone who is, was and has been important to you and throw them a party. Preferably near a swimming pool. I know how you love water. It doesn’t have to be big. Just something to show how thankful you are to them for being there and making you the person you’ve become.
Before I sign off, let me write a few words to remind you of who you were in 2016.
‘shy.weird.creative.friendly.optimistic. That’s me. 5 things are most important to me right now- I call them the five pillars of my life- God. Family. Friends. Academics. World. I want to change the world. I want to be important. I have a lot of love in me. I’m going to share it. I’m going to be happy always.’
Whatever you’re doing, wherever you are, know that I’m proud of you for making it to 34. Please never forget your humble beginnings, and the things that should always be important. Always put others first. God is always in control. There’s always a bright side to everything. Never judge people. Give everyone the benefit of the doubt. Never doubt God, even if you doubt yourself. Have courage and don’t hesitate to do the things you want even if you’re afraid. Be brave. Trust yourself.
God bless you and keep you for the next 15 yrs and more.
a 19 year old Joanne,
26th Nov 2016.
P.S. did reading this kinda feel like time travel? While writing it, I swear I could almost see you. Anyways, bye. Till the next lifetime. Peace.