By: Marit Van Dijk who starts the MA in Geography: Cities, Space and Culture this September
When I turned seventeen I began a new tradition. Every three months I would write an online letter, to myself in the future, to be received, by myself, in exactly three months. A website offering this service stores the letter, and then forwards it to you. Whenever I receive a letter from my past self, I reply to my future self within a week, which means that I write another letter to a future me, and so forth. By now (I recently turned 23) these letters have grown into a personal digital archive. Sometimes, when preparing for something big, I reread some of them, because they show me an early, less mature version of myself and help me to put things into perspective.
Whilst refolding a stack of jumpers (packing for Ireland!) I think about the first letters I wrote. Chock-full of grammatical errors, random capital letters and worries about how other people would perceive me. I hadn’t yet learned how to properly write about anything, let alone how to cram all my thoughts into words. I pick up the stack of jumpers, place them in my already full suitcase and doubt if they will suit the Irish winter.
Four years after I wrote my first letter, I was heading for an internship in Moscow. I was so stressed that I was hardly able to deal with the pressure. In my letters I was asking my future self a lot of questions, aware of the fact that I would not receive an answer. However, the idea that I was exchanging letters with my future self and that she knew the answers, had a soothing effect. When I received the letter in Moscow, I was startled. I already forgotten how scared I was and which fears and biases I had had about living in Russia.
I leave my suitcase be for a moment and reread the letter I’m about to send to November, when I will be in Cork. In this letter, I seem surprisingly confident and relaxed with the idea of moving to Cork and my decision to study at the UCC. Most likely because I told so many people how I ended up choosing the UCC, that at some point it got completely embedded in my brain.
Sitting on the floor, beside my suitcase, I realize something. Again, I have thought through the whole process of decision making. However, there is one issue that – for now – will remain unsolved. What will go through my future self’s mind when I read this letter again?
If you enjoy the concept of e-mailing your future self and want to try it out, just check https://www.futureme.org/ It’s free!