Dear Me in 1985,
Greetings from 26 years into the future! We still don’t have flying cars, but there is lots of other cool stuff. The main reason I’m writing is to let you know that life is not going to turn out how you imagine it right now. The future you’re envisioning for you isn’t going to happen, but that’s ok. Life has a peculiar way of working out, and at the time, things look like they are falling apart but you get by. Life has made you a lot tougher than you ever gave yourself credit for, things that you can’t even imagine right now. I want you to know what you can change, what you can’t, and what you probably shouldn’t change. Maybe if I had done some things differently, life would have turned out better, but things aren’t bad now, I have a feeling we’re in a place we’re supposed to be at 42. So where to begin???
First, you are gay, I know coming out of the closet seems impossible right now, but if you can, don’t wait until 30 to start really living your life honestly like I did. Mom was fine with it, Dad never knew for sure, but Mom said he suspected it and even asked her about it. I found out I could have come out in college or shortly afterwards and would have kept most of my friends. I waited too long, and I have paid the price. Now I’m 42 and single, and I’ve always been single. Things might have been different if I had come out earlier and started dating when I was younger and still attractive.
That’s another thing, quit telling yourself you aren’t attractive. You were much cuter than you ever gave yourself credit for. Time won’t be kind, so make the most of it now while you can.
College will be an amazing time for you. You will have more friends than you ever imagined, and while you feel like an outsider in high school, in college you will feel popular.
First of all, architecture does not pan out. You will make it far in architecture school, but you won’t be able to cut it in the end. It’s difficult, it’s disappointing, but you get by. You’ll always have an interest in it, but it won’t be your profession. Of course if you can avoid a certain professor with the initials M.M. in architecture school, things might turn out differently!
I know it sounds unlikely, but you will join a fraternity. It will be the best decision you make in the first 42 years of your life. It will provide you with a support network, the best friends in your life, opportunities galore, and it will even lead to your career!
Make the most of the time with Mom and Dad and the dogs. Dad will have horrible health problems in the 1990s, and will pass when you are 31. When you are 30, the opportunity will arise for you to come back home after many years away – take it! You will be glad you have that nine months.
You will get to see much of the world that you dream about seeing at 16. You will have been to Paris. You will have travelled to much of Europe. You will get to share much of this experience with Mom, and it will make her so happy.
You won’t be rich, at least not in the first 42 years. Save as much money as you can. Don’t rack up credit card debt in your 20s if you can avoid it. Things will look bleak that decade as you enter the work world. You will struggle financially at jobs you hate. That will change when you turn 30. You will find a career you love and you are still in it today at 42. You still won’t be rich, but you will enjoy what you do. Most people don’t get to say that. Most importantly, you will make a difference in the lives of lots of college students.
You are going to make a very close friend “D” in the 1990s. He is going to leave in 2000 and go to Champaign, Illinois. Go look for him, before July, 2000. If you don’t, you will never see him alive again, and it will eat you up inside for the rest of your life.
In 2011 you are living in the house you grew up in with Mom. Now you have to help her. Her health is good, but financially the world has changed. Things are tough. It’s just the two of you and Lucy and Ethel (schnauzers).
Things may not sound great, but don’t let yourself get down. You can change a lot of this, or you can just let it happen. If you decide to go with the latter, I just want you to know things are ok. I am happy with how things have turned out. I have shifted my priorities and grown up a lot. The difficulties have made me much, much stronger, and you aren’t so afraid to stand up for yourself in the future.
There’s still a lot ahead. I take it one day at a time now. When I was your age, I used to live in the future, now I find I live in the present.
Good luck, enjoy the road ahead. Take advantage of the opportunities, but don’t worry so much, it will turn out ok in the end.
See you in 2011.