Today I had a chance to go through a bunch of old boxes of my stuff, culling out the things I cannot even remember why I bothered to save in the first place.
I found journals, poems, stories, school papers, newspaper clippings, stickers, paintings, and a horrifying amount of tediously penned notes. From 15 gallons worth of plastic tubs and a shoebox, I now have about 3 gallons worth of papers and another 2 of empty binders and folders I'm hoping to donate to a school somewhere.
Most of my life, I've thought it might be cool to go back one day and create a book of all of my old work. Incorporate my journals and short stories and random school assignments into something I could keep forever (and if I got famous, edit and sell). Realistically (after about 5 hours of this treasure hunting), I'm not sure it would be worth anything to anyone - perhaps not even to me.
One thing about looking back is that it gives you a chance to see how far you've come; and how far you have left. For example: when I left for college, I was a total square. I was incredibly serious about my grades, work, and extracurriculars. Now I am significantly more like a rhombus, or at least a three-dimensional something or other.
Some of the most interesting things I read had to do with advice I gave to others and dreams and aspirations I had for myself. I wanted to be the President of the United States, an astronaut, or some other noble career that I might make people proud by having. I reminded others to "look for the happy" and never let go of their dreams.
I also found love letters - some more scandalous than others - from my two high school boyfriends. These I found incredibly amusing.
Looking back, I can remember thinking how different I thought my adulthood would be. I always assumed I would have some of the same friends forever, that the grown-up world was less clique-y and difficult, that I would always know what was coming next, that I would be healthy, strong, sure of myself ... that I would be everything I dreamed.
I'm a little glad some of those dreams didn't come true. Some of the biggest "wrenches" thrown into my life have become my most treasured moments: not making show choir got me involved in hall council which led me to being an RA; not making the walk-on spot to the volleyball team helped me pull together a club team that still exists today; and some of those people ... well, I wouldn't have the friends I have today if I'd always stuck with the friends I had then.
And all this reflection makes me wonder what things I'm focusing on today that could wind up in the (now overflowing) recycling bin ten years from now. Will I want the same things from my life? Will I still know the same people? What new challenges will there be?
I'm looking forward to meeting that person. That future me, sitting somewhere in 2019, looking back and wishing she'd stressed a little less and lived a little more. I hope she loves her job. I hope she has her own family; one that is still close with siblings and parents and cousins. I hope she has seen at least 10 more countries than I have, and visited a few more states. I hope she's happy and healthy and doing something to make the world a better place.
But most of all, I hope that she - like me - can look back and honestly say that she has no regrets. That every piece of her life has made her better and stronger than before. That the world is still full of amazing possibilities.
There are more boxes to go (why am I such a pack rat?), but I think they can wait for now. Between remembering the past (primarily middle to high school) and reflecting about the future, I'm not sure how many other versions of myself I need hovering around in my psyche right now. Bed sounds like a pretty tempting option.
Have a good night. Love always, ~Heather