Thinking About You
The answer is: no.
There’s no surer way to trigger spirals of anxiety and self-hate than to preoccupy myself with thoughts of the future, so I try to stay in the moment. Mindfulness. I try to practice it 24/7. I wake up every morning and spend two minutes taking deep breaths. Usually I get about ten. And in those ten breaths, I’m supposed to set my mind to the dial that reads “Today.” Not last night. Not this day a year from now. Or even tomorrow. Right now.
You know when staying in the “now” becomes difficult? When you look at a calendar and realize that there are only thirteen months left of your 20s. Me at 30 was always a distant dream. I’d stand taller. Have more money. More sex. More curves. More nerve. Suddenly, I’m thirteen months away from this mythical badass SBG and panicked because I have so much catching up to do. I have to eat better and actually exercise regularly and spend less and save more and tackle my credit score and navigate what is a reportedly awful job market and get published and figure out exactly what I want from men because 30-year-old me has all that shit together. And so I can’t just YOLO away doing what almost-29-year-old SBG wants to do anymore. Focus. I needed focus.
Then Sunday morning, I stumbled across two articles. The first, from my guru-in-my-head, Justine Musk, who recently wrote about turning forty:
One of the strange things about getting older–you’ll hear people of all ages say this–is that you keep waking up the same person. It’s not like the Maturation Fairy visits you in the night and touches you with her wand and says, Presto! You’re a grown up.
When you imagine yourself being older–if you allow yourself to imagine it at all–it’s with a sense that Future You is not really you, with your wants and needs and habits, but perhaps a different person entirely.
I found the second piece, “The Best Goal is No Goal,” on ZenHabits.net. The author, Leo Babauta, pondered life without goals and described it as such:
You don’t set a goal for the year, nor for the month, nor for the week or day. You don’t obsess about tracking, or actionable steps [...]
What do you do then? Lay around on the couch all day, sleeping and watching TV and eating Ho-Hos? No, you simply do. You find something you’re passionate about and do it. Just because you don’t have goals doesn’t mean you do nothing — you can create, you can produce, you can follow your passion.
After turning these articles over in my head for a few days, I came to this conclusion: there is no Future Me. In thirteen months, I’m going wake up as myself. Perhaps some hows will have changed. And there may be a few new whats. But in the long run, I am who I am before I get there.
There’s no transformation. I simply have to do. To be. To tweak shit when life reveals it needs tweaking. And be open to that new thing–that new job, that new man, that new writing venture, that new travel opportunity–when it feels right.
And if I get this mix just right–mindfulness, authenticity, faith, flexibility, with hints of reckless abandon–I just might have the recipe for a life well-lived.