#reverb10: Future Self

Today's #reverb10 writerly prompt is: December 21: Future Self. Imagine yourself five years from now. What advice would you give your current self for the year ahead? (Bonus: Write a note to yourself 10 years ago. What would you tell your younger self?) (Author: Jenny Blake)

In five years I’ll be 42, and while in some ways five years seems like a really long time, it's also no time at all. Meaning, I could see myself happily doing exactly what I’m doing now, or it wouldn't be surprising if I'm doing something completely different (though at this moment, I have no idea what that something different would be).

In either case, the 42-year-old advice I would give my current self is to continue to trust my instinct. One thing I always keep in mind is my husband’s saying that opportunity can be dangerous. Each opportunity must be evaluated for whether it really is a good fit or in one's best interest (believe me, a lot of the opportunities pitched in my direction are not in my best interest...). I’ve always done best when I’ve followed my instincts, even when the decisions (such as, um, ditching a 10-year academic career with no immediate prospects) don’t necessarily make sense to the rest of the world.

And as for the bonus question: here’s what I would write to my 27-year-old self:

Dear Christine,

Right now you are halfway through your Ph.D. As with all things, there will be highs and lows in the process. And whatever it is that you’re doing, I encourage you to keep evaluating and asking questions: Am I happy? Why am I doing this? Does it feel like the right path, even through the hard parts? Where do I find the most joy?

And really, that last question is what it’s all about. Nothing in this life is 100% puppy dogs and unicorns, but you’re living in an amazing lifetime where it’s possible to find what makes you joyful and go for it.

Every path leads you to the next, so it matters not whether what you are doing now is different from what you’ll be doing 10 years from now. But be joyful. And follow your instincts.