Monday, September 21, 2015

An Open Letter to My Old Self

I stumbled upon a letter I wrote to myself in May 2010. I wrote the letter to my future self, and finding it five years later only seemed fitting. 

It was bittersweet. It gave me hope for about one second, but then it quickly turned my stomach into one giant knot as I found myself analyzing every sentence.

"Did you manage to fully pursue the Journalism degree?"

No, I didn't. 

"I only ask because you have a history of quitting things; softball, art, soccer...none of those lasted very long."

That felt like a punch in the face.

"I know you say now that Chicago is the greatest city in the world, but did you make it to New York? Are you in L.A. now? Are you still in the country? Or are you still in your cornfields town? These are the things I wish I knew." 

Yeah, I'm still here.

"I wonder what you're up to these days." 

Not much, according to your old standards. I'm sorry, 19-year-old Jessi.

The jab about quitting things hurt, honestly. It almost made me cry, because I didn't fully pursue the degree. On one hand, I didn't finish my degree because I was offered a full-time job in the field before I even graduated. So you'd be beyond proud of that. Ecstatic, even.

On the other hand, I only lasted six months at that job because I was miserable, anxious and unhappy 90 percent of the time, and I didn't go back to finish school. So no, I'm nowhere near that office with a skyline view of the city. In fact, my life is the complete opposite. I'm working in an office basement five minutes from my hometown, where I still live. What would 19-year-old Jessi think of that?

I'd guess that 19-year-old Jessi would be obscenely disappointed. But I'd also guess that 19-year-old Jessi wouldn't be able to begin to understand.

Jessi at 24-years-old has learned a thing or two in her time. She's realized that being in her hometown is actually OK, because her fiancé is here and her family is here. (Her family that she actually gets along with pretty well.) 

She's (starting) to realize that dreams don't always work out or come true. She's too stubborn to completely accept this right now, but her fiancé helps her see it. It's because he constantly reminds her that she's worth it and can accomplish whatever she wants, even if it doesn't happen right now, or even if she hasn't decided what exactly it is that she wants. He reminds her that it will all work out in time. (Whatever it may be.)

There was a few things that old Jessi got right. 

"If I had to give you advice here and now, at the age of nineteen sitting on my bed with my laptop burning my legs, there's one thing I'd have to say. Keep thinking big. ... Keep dreaming. I can honestly tell you right now that writing feels amazing, and if you can do it for the rest of your life, don't let anything stop you. Cause I'm really not sure where else you are going to find a passion like this. So I hope you're still writing. Maybe you only do so in your spare time, but I know you have the guts and passion to pursue it the whole way through."

That letter felt like a kick to the gut at times, but it also gave me perspective. Sure, my life is way off track compared to what old Jessi would have expected out of me. But old Jessi never would have guessed that at this point in time I'd be one month out from marrying the guy that I had started dating two months before I wrote that letter

Old Jessi wouldn't be able to fathom the joy of rediscovering blogging at 24-years-old, with a laptop still burning in her lap and a cat curled up next to her side. 

Present day Jessi may not know what she's yearning for next, or what the next big dream may be. Jessi may not always be in the basement, proofreading the hours away, forever. But right now, it may be just what this Jessi needs until the next dream comes along.

- - -

(P.S. Yes, young Jessi, Aerosmith is still together and they are still your favorite band. Some things never change.)

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