Creative Writing, Reflections

A Letter to The Future

Dear 2021 self,

As we approach the end of the year 2020, I feel it’s important to go over a few quick things so that you don’t lose perspective in the coming days. Nobody knows what 2021 will bring, and I sincerely hope that you take some of what I’m saying to heart as you approach your New Year’s Eve next year. We have arguably experienced one of the worst years in recent memory and are not keen on repeating it. That being said, it wasn’t a complete waste and I feel it’s crucial to keep to the “lessons learned” section of the 2020 manual as much as possible to ensure that some good manages to come out of what will otherwise be remembered as a 365-day dumpster fire.

First, I just wanted to tell you how proud you should be for continuing to write and sticking to your deadlines! It’s been a confusing year, and the temptation to stop everything has been overwhelming. Even when things got rough, you kept with it, and sometimes that helped fuel and inspire you. It takes courage to keep going, and the road is never easy. I hope you are still going strong and finding ways to improve your skill. Of course, breaks are always needed. That’s to be expected. But you should always be learning something as you go. And if you ever reach a point where you aren’t learning, then it might be time to consider changing gears. That being said, be kind to yourself, as I believe your journey is just beginning.

Second, 2020 has been an absolute let down for travelling. You had some grand plans this year that fell through horribly. Your first trip was cancelled, a self-inflicted wound, as you were checking your bags at the airport. The second trip you were planning, the big one, wasn’t even in the realm of possibility once the lockdowns started happening. It sucks because you were really looking forward to both trips, I know. It hurt admitting you wouldn’t be able to do either. On the flip side, you put all your effort and vacation into visiting your family when you were able. You got to meet your niece for the first time – a trip that had been consistently and postponed for a multitude of reasons. You got to catch up with your parents and introduced your girlfriend to the rest of the family. That was time well spent! And what of those two trips you had to let go of? They are still ahead of you. They are there and waiting. My friend, if you haven’t gone there yet, you will. Your adventures are far from over. The only reason they won’t happen is if you allow it.

Third, you have been working the whole way through this year, pandemic and all, and it has been exhausting. You have been yelled at, called names, and threatened. There were whole weeks where you didn’t get a single day off. You’ve made some tough decisions. Every day has been one challenge after another, and even though you woke up some days wishing you could stay in bed and feeling like the world was against you, you still got up, got dressed, and went in anyway. Because the good still outweighs the bad. You can’t make everybody happy, and you’ll make yourself miserable in the attempt. There are people who love you and appreciate you. You’re lucky to have what you have. Remember this and keep going. It can be easy to fall into a funk, but it will pass. As the saying goes, darkness is just another shade of light.

Finally, I feel it’s important to remind you that keeping up with personal relationships as much as possible is vital. I can’t emphasize this enough. With the current social distancing measures in place, keeping up with friends and family has never been more challenging. Silence and isolation, while sometimes incredibly boring, can also be dangerously addicting and easy. It’s a trap. I’m both interested and terrified to see what the long-term effects of these periods of isolation will be on mental health generally. So, should these restrictions still be in place as we get closer to the end of 2021, please do your best to keep up in communicating with the people you love. And yes, I know Zoom, Skype, and Facetime are annoying and awkward as hell. But you will survive. On the other hand, if the restrictions do get lifted and this pandemic is on the safe and steady decline (or eliminated entirely), it might be time to go back out to the pub and have a big ol’ party surrounded by those you hold most dear. And for the love of God, whichever way this new year goes, please pick up the damn phone and call your mother! She’s worried sick.

I sincerely hope that 2021 has been kinder to you than 2020 has been to me (and the rest of us).

That being said, bad stuff is going to happen. It’s unavoidable. That’s part of life. The way you move through it, however, is up to you. And as I pointed out previously, perspective is everything. Take a deep breath, accept what has happened, and grow from it. Look for the positive – there is always a positive.

Whatever 2021 throws at you, you will get through it!

Wishing you all the best and a very happy new year…next year.

Sincerely,

CJ Bowers
circa December 2020

Image Credit: plastickheart

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