A while back, I got an email from my 36-year old self.
(Years ago, I sent a message to my future self using a time-capsule email service.)
Dear Future Version of Me,
I hope you are in good health and good spirits when you read this. I hope you are in love, in shape, and on-track financially. Did you get to [name of countries X & Y]? Give the man in your life a big kiss for me. And happy 40th birthday! I love you.
Tears welled up in my eyes. I wrote that note at one of the lowest points of my life. I was at my first job out of grad school during the tail end of the Great Recession. I was grossly underpaid, underemployed, and over my head in debt.
I was alone. I was so depressed that I was physically ill, and seriously contemplated more times than I care to admit, why I should keep living. I had no health insurance, so when I did get sick I just suffered through it. I wrote that letter on an old, dirty, squeaky twin bed in a room I was renting in a house with 7 other people. I was so full of hope for the future.
All I wanted was to find someone and to not be single anymore. I wanted to travel. I wanted to be in stable financial situation. Back then, I had the last vestiges of my youth. Now the eye bags, dark circles, fine lines and rounded belly are here to stay.
I am now 40 years old.
If I could write back to her today, what would I say? What could I say?
- Am I seeing someone? No, I’m not.
- In fact, I’m all too familiar with what it’s like to be a single woman with double debt and what it’s like to be a single woman at work. Singleness seems to like me more than I like it. And it just won’t go away. Sometimes it seems improbable, but hope springs eternal…
- Am I traveling? I haven’t, but I am going to make it happen this year.
- Am I better off financially? Somewhat. I’m still in a TON of debt, but now with a relatively stable and only moderately underpaid job. I still don’t have my own place or a car, but I now only have three roommates instead of 7. I have my down moments, but am trying to see the brighter side of things when I can.
- Am I healthy and in good shape? No, not at all. And in no small part because of the massive stress inducing debt that I’ve been carrying. But I have healthy dreams and aspirations and that’s a starting point.
I think that I’m making some good progress, however small. Even though some hopes haven’t panned out for me in these recent years, I can take solace in knowing that I’m better, both financially and emotionally, than I was when I wrote that message years ago.
I’m considering writing another time capsule message to my 45 year old future self. I’m not yet sure what I’ll say, but I have a feeling that the 45 year old me will be doing better still.
“Debtor’s prison is real, and opportunity cost is a bitch.” (DDSW) [All posts on one page]
“Back then, I had the last vestiges of my youth. Now the eye bags, dark circles, fine lines and rounded belly are here to stay.
I am now 40 years old.”
Ok, Girlfriend, that is clearly depression talking and I’m here to tell you to evict its a$$! I am currently single and will turn 50 this summer and I would LOVE to be turning 40. But I’m not sweating it in fact I thank God almighty that he has blessed me with (soon to be) 50 years. Not everyone has the privilege of getting older. Your story is not finished. All those symptoms you have are curable by 8-9 hours sleep everynight, a good diet, a passionate affair with the gym and passionate faith in God. Take action and speak your future “My youth is renewed like the eagles and the joy of the lord is my strength” Also, when you’re ready you will need to try online dating. Yes, you will not meet anyone but the pizza delivery boy sitting on the couch. Yes, you have debt but I beseech you to LIVE NOW!
Debt or no debt, tomorrow is promised to no one. You still have time for love (and a baby if you wish, Halle had her son at 46).
Bottom Line: What you focus on GROWS so focus on how awesome you are and the good things in your life!
Oh, this! You are young and alive! And yes, the Lord is your strength. I am 64 years old, and I do not feel old! My grandchildren keep me young, and I look younger because my heart is happy. Recently, I saw my doctor because my knees were giving me trouble. But now I am biking and walking every day and feel strong and good. My physical therapist says it looks like I have beat knee surgery. And yes, being alive is a gift. You get out there and grab life. And I’m telling you this– it will attract people to you like bees to honey.
Thank you, Isabella. That’s a great outlook to have. Forming strong close relationships are good for physical/mental health and vice versa.
I remember thinking how “old” I felt when I turned 30. Ha! Today, a 30 year old seems like barely an adult to me. It’s all about perspective.
AttaGirl! Age milestones always seem so big when you get to them, but you’re right. Getting older is not guaranteed to anyone and it is indeed a privilege. It’s good to be reminded of that. Ha! I wish I had Halle’s looks and bank accounts. 🙂 Thank you for the positive words. It’s time for me to start writing an eviction notice. 🙂
Being kind to previous versions of yourself sometimes allows you moments like this, when your previous self reminds you of how far you’ve already come.
Thank you, ZJ. True words.
You sure will be doing better in 5 years! You will be doing great. Look at what you have accomplished in the last year. You already got out of credit card debt twice, even after a bout with a debilitating medical condition.
It’s funny a woman who is 35, recently blogged about her debt situation: http://theyachtless.com/2016/06/09/possibility-c/. I think you might relate to what she wrote in terms of stopping beating yourself over the past.
You are not your debt. I agree with the previous comment-ers. Growing older is a privilege. Every day is a gift. You have so much offer.
Yes, I plan to be in a much better place in 5 years. I will get better with time.
Thanks for sharing this, Cynthia.
Oh man. I understand the sadness about not being where you wanted to be in life — but at the same time, you have conquered so much, and have put so much effort into getting where you are now, that I hope you are at least as proud of yourself as you are sad. You are a really, really strong person! And look where you are: over 10% of your student loan debt paid off. That number is going to be surmountable, and what a story you will have to tell.
Hope you’re doing well these days DDSW! 🙂
I am still here! 🙂 Thanks for checking on me. Time flies…