Self-Rebellion

As a teenager, I became acquainted with a person who wrote me short inspirational notes, made to-do lists, left interesting internet tabs open, and signed me up for activities he deemed fun or beneficial. He was sure he had my best interests in mind, but I hated being told what to do so profoundly that I ignored the notes and backed out of the obligations. I did not like this person at all, and I wished he would go away. I made this very clear to him, but he steadfastly continued with the forced role of personal assistant. On rare occasions, usually out of boredom or confusion, I would follow through with whatever stupid event he signed me up for, suppressing any enjoyment. Even the slightest acknowledgment of his existence made him giddy and euphoric. He was really annoying in those instances.

I eventually realized I would have to put up with his perpetual presence. After being around him on a regular basis, I started having more compassion for the guy. There were certain periods where we got along really well; I think I might have picked up a little Yes Man-ism from him. But with the new ups also came some pretty big downs. He got very structured, developing a streamlined system with the goal of making things even easier and more appealing on my end. I think I felt an inherent hatred toward structure in general, and I would explode on him without warning. We had multiple falling outs where I disappeared into a ruleless world of random wandering for a week at a time. Of course, I would always fail miserably in this endeavor, and my loyal friend would always be waiting when I came back. I was certainly grateful for this, but I was afraid of becoming too dependent on him for my own happiness.

With this in mind after one particular argument, instead of responding dramatically by disappearing into oblivion, I determined it would be mutually beneficial if we took an official break for one month. I asked what he would do with the time off, and his puzzled expression made it clear I was his entire life.

It was during this month that I stopped to think for the first time as an adult. I realized his notes had always taken on a bit of a fanatical flavor, and it had gotten more extreme lately. Furthermore, on multiple occasions in recent years, he had signed me up for things I had no interest whatsoever in doing, putting me in numerous terrible, awkward, and perplexing situations. When I thought further about it all, it seems that this guy had some serious issues. He had a knack for cynicism, and I believe he was also quite the schadenfreude.

Now here we are in the present, and I have decided to let him go for good. He is set to return tomorrow, so I’m hurriedly working on a termination letter. This is my current draft:

 

I fully expected things to continue as normal when you returned, but your absence has given me a chance to think for myself. You might laugh at my use of that phrase, but you’d be surprised what a month can do for a person.

As loyal as you have been to me over the past ten years, you are simply not very good at what you do. Your pro bono help has led me in no particular direction. I clearly struggle without you, but I’d rather struggle on my terms than live under the command of your absurdity. Besides, I no longer want to live in the paper world of notes, lists, and RSVPs, eyes closed to the reality in front of me.

I might have to burn a few bridges to rid myself of the façade you’ve erected for me. I might have to consider an important part of my life a sunk cost and start new. I might have to whimsically pull the trigger on a number of things I failed to act upon in the past. But in order to handle all of this, I need to be left alone. I appreciate all the work you’ve ever done on my behalf, but I can no longer reasonably accommodate you as my assistant.

Please take all your belongings and do not try to contact me in any way. Good luck elsewhere.

And by elsewhere, I mean in Hell.

 

Sincerely,

A Person You Surprisingly Know Nothing About

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Applicable Advice from a Foresightful Friend

The following is an excerpt from a letter I wrote to my future self a few years ago:

 

Hey future Curtis. Yes, I’m talking to you again, thinking that one day you might surprise me. Although you are months or possibly years older than me, there is barely a difference between the two of us. What has changed? You still think the same. Do you feel that much older? I’m reaching out to you. Please help me find my way, as you have likely come closer than myself.

This world is an interesting one. You probably know more about it than me, yet you still think the same. I send my present state of mind to you, and I know you’re always good at deciphering it. I know you’re lost. I know you’re probably doing something stupid, or something that you tell yourself is worthy of pursuing. When will you learn? When will you overcome these stupid obstacles you have put up for yourself? But pardon me, I am younger and more inexperienced than you. Who am I to tell you what to do? Oh wait, I am you.

Please remember this feeling. This inexpressible feeling. I am better than this. I have no idea what I am doing and why I am in this ridiculous predicament, and it has helped me see the light. I don’t quite have the resources and knowledge to act on this feeling quite yet, but I know you do, even if you don’t see it.

Please open your eyes. Look around you, Curtis. What are you doing there? In the unusual case that you are where you want to be, I applaud you. If not, go make a difference with your abilities and your mind. Stop living in the past. Stop extrapolating foresight from hindsight. Explore new avenues. Please, for the love of God, make travel a primary part of your life. Get away. I don’t know if you will ever find a specific thing you love to do, but until then, “getting away” is really your “going home.” This world is a puzzle that your rational mind won’t ever be able to put together. Stop trying. Accept it for all its mystery and intrigue, and don’t ever let it hold you back. The only thing I do know about you, regardless of when you are reading this, is that you want to be as free as a bird. You have control over more than you think in this world of randomness and disorder, so go do it.

Please listen to me. This is a clarity I have not experienced in quite some time. You know what that’s like. Remember those sleepless school nights staring at the ceiling with so much hope and confidence? The feeling would usually subside by the time school started the next day, and a melancholy acceptance would take over. Then it would creep back, and it would stay for longer. Still, it never really lingered much into the day; it was more of a nighttime feeling. Curtis, for once, don’t look at that feeling, the one in which I am feeling right now, as silly and naïve and immature like I know you will. “You’re just tired, not thinking clearly, and dramatic,” is what you will say. I’m tired of that. In order to be a better person, you need to accept this feeling for what it is. Don’t be afraid to show it in the light. Let yourself go in the day, every day. Let this feeling encroach upon all of your sterile thoughts. Let it consume you. This is who you want to be, but you keep suppressing it. What good is that doing? Where is that getting you? I am not a psychologist, but I do know better than anyone else why you might have started doing that. However, you have the ability to break free and pursue something meant specifically for you.

I’m pretty sure I will feel similar to this on my death bed. A moment of stunning clarity where I see exactly what I missed out on and how much I would like to do. Only then, I won’t be able to do anything about it. Then, I will be talking to my past self, like the one right now, and I will see how much hope and promise I had yet how little I did about it. It is up to these lucid Curtises to navigate in a positive direction. Please recognize this and don’t get complacent. Please take action, and not just any action. Take this feeling and combine it with the knowledge you have acquired prior to reading this letter.

Don’t keep taking the past for granted. Make your own past by living in your own present, and decide your own future.

Make the day your night. Don’t judge others or yourself for living in the moment. Eat a good breakfast, pack plenty of clothes, and say the necessary goodbyes; the present you is not ever coming back. Your past selves are waiting for you to write back once you finally walk out of the door.

-C.R.S.