There’s a trend among writers in consumer magazines to write letters to their past (typically teenage) selves, imparting pearls of wisdom that they wished they’d known. It’s frankly amazing how none of those pearls of wisdom include winning lottery numbers. Now that would help bust those appearance/whether you are cool/can attract a spouse/afford somewhere to live insecurities well good! In a slightly dark, non-character building manner.
Still, past me would be well pissed with present me if I failed to pass on lottery numbers, because I was (and still am) a deeply shallow creature. Also, I would have felt slightly patronised, because you know past me wasn’t a complete dumb ass with no desirable traits. I miss my completely irrational and unquestioning faith in my abilities. I miss my levels of optimism – I mean I liked to think I was a cynical teenager who knew all about the big bad world and the failings of people, but I really really wasn’t. I also miss my super-high metabolism. Please come back.
So I thought I’d write a letter to future Ploy instead. Because, that’s probably infinitely more useful given a) my memory was always pretty shaky to start with so I’d like to remind even more cynical and jaded future me of a few things and b) I can actually read this again in the future. (I’m a very practical person.)
So here goes…
Dear Ploy Ten Years From Now,
I hope that while you are reading this you are lounging out in the countryside somewhere in bright sunshine with an affectionate cat curled on your lap, a Bernese Mountain Dog (or maybe a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel – perhaps cheaper to keep?) playing at your feet and your horse stomping all over some hot groom somewhere nearby. Especially because as I type there is a python slithering out of it’s vivarium and eyeing up your laundry rack of clean clothes. Oh please, say you’ve had a pet upgrade/no longer share a house with a reptile owner.
I mean realistically given that you work in media, which is highly city centric, and speak no modern languages (I wish I’d told school Ploy to be better at languages that aren’t dead) these things are unlikely because you’ll be living in a flat/house share still in London. But I really, really hope you at least have a cat, even though all your friends will undoubtedly be mocking you and saying you’ve turned into a mad cat lady.
I also hope there is a greedy, naughty horse, with very strong ideas on who is in charge (because of course those will still be your favourites) in your life that you are at least fulfilling your dream of doing some low grade gymkhanas with. Even if you are the only adult there and more excited about winning a rosette than the kids. I’ve only recently started learning the lesson that being too embarrassed to do things is for wimps. I hope you have mastered the art of being unashamed to have uncool fun by now.
And I hope you are still remembering to have lots of fun, because there’s no point going to the grave with a huge pile of unused cash. Maybe you’ll have a more sophisticated knowledge of wines compared to your current technique of panicking and glancing down a wine menu for a Chablis or Sancerre that you only know tastes yum, because more sophisticated people than you have ordered it for lunches. Yes, you will be sipping nice wines regularly with friends, I believe.
Quite how you will be funding the wine and pet habit, I’m not quite sure. It’s a bit ridiculous really that we expect kids to know what they want to be when they grow up and pick subjects based on that as now I’m a grown up I find I have no idea what I want to do next. I suppose it will still be something creative because you do like writing. I hope that whatever it is, you will just be enjoying it. Taking each day enjoying it. Not thinking hhmmm what should I be doing next to further that strange concept – the career. Future Ploy, enjoy the present. It’s like in a riding lesson when the instructor has to remind you to keep breathing because you are concentrating so hard on doing something right; don’t forget to relax and breathe and enjoy what you have or you’re going to struggle with actually proceeding to the next stage.
Ooh I imagine you will bristle at that advice. Sorry, I know you’re impatient and always thinking ahead. At least I haven’t given you that most irritating of dating advice ‘Oh, don’t worry, the right man will turn up when you’re least expecting it.” Vomit. I am curious as to whether Mr Right has turned up though. And was it when you were least expecting it – were you visiting a nunnery and he just jumped out from behind the bushes? I am struggling to think of a situation in which we’re not casting an eye out for a prospective Mr Right just in case. We are very impatient after all.
I will be exceedingly cross though if you’ve settled for Mr Almost Right because your relationship is comfortable and getting married just seems like the done thing and you’re impatient for a big party. No Ploy. Remember what that comic who was the warm-up act for Amy Schumer’s show at the O2 said – ‘it wasn’t the relationship that was great, it was the tv show box sets you sat around watching that were’.
And on the note of inspirational quotes/jarring life advice – it seems fitting to end this letter with a reminder of the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given. ‘If you don’t ask, you don’t get.’ So said then Squadron Leader Miller on your first ever cadet expedition to Wales when you were dying of heat stroke and he was pointedly hinting if you wanted to ask for a hat. And don’t you forget that advice. You got that hat. You didn’t die of heat stroke. You got those freelance pieces because you asked. You reconnected with old friends because you actually asked how they were and if they wanted to meet up. You got those multiple glasses of wine because you asked (ok flirted) and you got that podcasting training course paid for by work because you asked.
So whatever you are up to Ploy Ten Years From Now, I hope you still haven’t stopped asking for what you want and are not just sort of limply hanging around hoping things will just happen to you.