Writing to reach me

Meghan Sheffield
Meghan Sheffield

In those awkward, self-aware years between childhood and adulthood, when I was buying Seventeen magazines in order to imagine the life of a 17-year-old and keeping copious records of descriptions of boys I liked, friends who had betrayed me and arguments with parents, it seemed as though I was always  being instructed to write a letter to myself in the future. A time capsule to open in the year 2000 or when I graduated from high school or something, a memento of times past, a purpose-fuelled inspiration to motivate myself at 12 to dream big, and at 18 to pursue those dreams. The capitalist’s dream summed up in a Dr. Phil moment of self exploration, facilitated by a small-town schoolteacher whose favourite phrase was, “The sky’s the limit.” I found one of them the other day, a record from my last year before high school, tucked between the pages of a pink diary guarded by the words “keep out” written in menacingly sparkling purple nail polish.

In the letter, I had written myself about who my best friends were, (using the classic initial-only last name unique to public school days: “Ashley H.”), my favourite bands—The Beatles, Oasis, Tom Petty—and what I wanted for the future: “To become a famous author, and also a doctor (maybe).”

While I’m pretty impressed by my pre-teen enthusiasm for music that’s still dear to my heart, I’ve given up on a dream I no longer remember having to be a doctor.

The whole exercise, though more than 10 years in the making, was fairly anti-climactic. Far from mourning the loss of failed dreams, of being inspired by the purer hope I had once had, I was mostly creeped out by the letter’s eery and narcissitic address—”Dear Meghan,”—and signature: “Love, Meghan.” The letter did, however, make me think about the tragedy of the one-way passage of time—how much better it would be if I could write a letter and pop it into some time-travelling post system that would take it back to the days of dollar-store eyeliner and “group dates.” I would write to myself about the things that really matter—that diary I kept, the books I was reading, the music I was clinging to, family, friends who were good at being friends—and the things that don’t: Grade 9 math class, boys who make fun of curly hair, bra size. Again there would be a distinctly Dr. Phil-like vibe to the whole thing: “hindsight’s 20/20.” Now I’m in my fourth year of university, on the edge of something even bigger than high school appeared back then, and I don’t feel half as secure as I did then. There’s no road map from here on out, and I’m not really keen on drawing one just yet. 

Dear Future Self, The sky’s the limit.

Love, Meghan

When commenting, be considerate and respectful of writers and fellow commenters. Try to stay on topic. Spam and comments that are hateful or discriminatory will be deleted. Our full commenting policy can be read here.