NOTHING WOULD make me happier than to spend the summer “suckin’ on chili dogs outside the Tastee Freez,” but one chili dog at my age would be like shampooing with Nair. My insides would congeal and smell just terrible. I can’t get away with what I could when I was younger. I’m at an age where the gap between my Present Self and my Future Self has almost closed.
It never occurred to me that one day I’d be knee-deep in middle age. I assumed I’d be like Keith Richards, eternally young, living in the present. Weirdly, I look more like Keith Richards every day, with my smudged eyeliner, stacks of bracelets, and stubble. My Future Self warned me this would happen. I ignored her.
I admire people who honor their Future Selves. Maybe you’re one of them. Future Self-oriented people studied in high school, ate vegetables, didn’t perm their hair, and were home by 11:30. I preferred a less “detail-oriented” lifestyle so I shoved my Future Self into a dark, shadowy corner of my soul where she couldn’t kill my vibe or make me read Excel spreadsheets. My Future Self, eyes bulging, often shrieking, watched helplessly as my Present Self called all the shots. My Future Self survived many years in an adrenaline-fueled panic like a driver swerving to avoid squirrels: ‘You’re going out with that guy? Baby oil instead of SPF 50? Lifting weights to the beat of pop music? Those shoes, that outfit? Kids so close together—what … about … your bladder?!’
Bless her, my Future Self has only ever wanted me to be a well-adjusted, svelte, and wrinkle-free person with no unread emails. My Present Self, however, is a hard-to- motivate person who can eat those chocolate-covered blueberry thingies by the fistful. My Present Self is never mentally prepared to blow-dry her hair. She’d rather chew her own leg off than check emails. With all this internal chaos, frankly, I’m amazed I have the wherewithal to smile through the pain of the endless lines at Jewel.
With the passage of time, my Future Self is not nearly as idealistic as she used to be. She has lowered her standards dramatically. “Svelte with no unread emails” is completely off the table now. My Future Self ’s expectations are so low, that she thinks finishing a lip balm before losing it is worthy of a social media post.
It only took decades of chasing rainbows and unicorns on a hedonic treadmill to get me to reconsider my Future Self ’s desires. My Future Self cautioned me that running in circles in search of happiness boosts would not bring lasting joy. Stuff, validation, and experiences that didn’t connect me to myself or people who matter aren’t worth chasing, she repeated. I feverishly ran anyway. I was terrified of being thrown off the back if I slowed down or stopped. The truth is, I wasn’t evolved enough to shut down my own treadmill; Mother Nature and fate conspired to do it for me. But I didn’t shoot off the back, arms, and legs flailing, like a viral video. Turns out, I adjusted fairly well. Life is less manic today.
Life is a relay race. Our Past Selves hand the baton to our Present Selves who run sprightly and place the baton into the hands of our Future Selves. Eventually, they all meet at the finish line. Hopefully, we like who we are when we get there. Hopefully, our family and friends do, too. Hopefully, we transitioned from Young-And- Ambitious to Wrinkly-And-Wise with acceptance, self-compassion, and enough love and connection to ripple through the generations.
T-Ann Pierce is a regular F&B contributor and confidence coach. She would love to hear from you. To be in touch, drop her a line at [email protected].