Letters to future me: A low-tech way to reflect on ourselves

“You Won’t Finish Reading This Article” is a column focused on YOU and the device you’re holding in your hand right now. This piece of Glass has changed the world, and it may have changed the way we think. 

This edition is about returning to the written word, with the help of technology.

It’s weird how time can pass so slowly that you hardly notice the impact of the small changes you’ve made in your life. Often, you only become aware of these changes when someone points them out (which, if positive, is one of the best feelings ever), or when you deliberately take the time to reflect on yourself. 

But there’s a slight problem – we’re terrible judges of ourselves. If you look into the mirror right now you might be thinking, “Wow, I look great today,” or you might be thinking, “Wow, I look like shit, it looks like I shouldn’t have pulled an all-nighter trying to finish that assignment.” The truth is those two potential observations about yourself could’ve been equally false or true because we’re incredibly good at looking at a few things and ignoring the rest. Focusing on only the small flaws or the slight glows over the rest of the picture. At least, that’s the case for me.  

I’m a person who always loves doing random side projects to keep things interesting. So, me being me, I decided to do something with technology to find a way to observe myself grow and change.  

So, let’s rewind the clock a little, to understand where the idea of this project started.  

It’s the beginning of 2020, and I’m in the final year of high school. I’m on this strange senior retreat, with my entire cohort being bused to the middle of nowhere, to undertake random team-building exercises and to be forced to listen to very long lectures about becoming better people. Quite frankly, it was one of the most boring couple of days ever; going somewhere new but doing nothing I found fun. From my very blurry memory, on the last night of the retreat, we were all given one piece of paper, a pen, and an envelope, and told to write a letter to our future selves. They said we would receive this letter in the post, exactly one year from that day. I honestly didn’t believe them, but I decided to just go for it. I wrote a lot of things. I wrote what my current worries were, what I hoped to achieve by the end of the year and what I hoped would remain the same about myself. I put the letter in the envelope, wrote my name, tossed it in the massive box of letters, and forgot all about it.  

One year later, I’m just starting uni in the middle of COVID. I’m at my computer, either studying or pretending to do so, and my mum knocks on my door and hands me a letter. No one sends me letters, so I’m praying it isn’t my first speeding fine. I carefully tear open the envelope and unfold the paper inside. That’s when I realised it was that thing I wrote a year ago. I take my time reading it all the way through and it honestly shocks me. It shocks me just how much stupid stuff I was worrying about. It shows me how unrealistic my goals were. And most of all, with the exception of a couple of lines, it makes me cringe at how dumb I was back then. I hide the letter, knowing I don’t want anyone else to see it, and also feeling a strange connection to it, forcing me not to throw it away. I think I somehow actually lost it at some point; I was searching my room in the midst of writing this, and I couldn’t find it. But that doesn’t take away the impact it had on me. And I still remember the best and last line 

“Btw I hope you still have what it takes to make someone laugh…” 

Fast forward another year, and it’s 2022, I’m at the uni library scrolling through my phone, while watching a lecture recording at 1.75x speed. And I stumbled across this post online, where people shared these emails they received from their past selves.  

They all use this obscure website – https://www.futureme.org/letters/new  

I click on the link, and I see a blank page in front of me, with the words, “Dear future me”, at the start and the delivery dates on the right-hand side. The default options are six months, one year, three years, five years, and ten years. Reading ten years kind of scares me at first. I can barely even imagine what my life would be six months from now; ten years is insane. So, I decide to set my first email to be just one year from now. I pour my current thoughts, worries, dreams, and a whole lot more onto that page. I don’t even bother to do a quick read-through, because I know I would delete things so I would appear better to my future self. I hit the dreaded “SEND TO THE FUTURE” button, feeling a small weight lifted from my mind.  

After I wrote this first email, every six months or so, I wrote another email that I’ll receive one year in the future. I’ve also started other rituals like taking a selfie at the same place every year, keeping track of habits with an app called Streaks and even taking short videos of my surroundings to see how those change too.  

So far, I’ve written four letters, and I’m lowkey excited for the day that those stupid, stupid words from the past reach me. Because cringing at something you said, did or wrote in the past means only one thing. It means you’ve grown as a person.  

Abishai Sujith (he/him) is a QUT student (Bachelor of Urban Development) and a content creator. With a keen eye for the intersection of technology and everyday life, he delves into the impact of emerging technologies. Abishai is driven by a passion to understand how our daily lives are shaped by design, construction and technology.

Abishai Sujith
Abishai Sujith
Articles: 5

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