Dear me, one year ago

Time travel with me

by Thomas Fitzpatrick

You know how people are always writing letters to younger versions of themselves? I know I’ve done it a time or two. It’s a great way to be introspective and to offer insights on what you’ve learned in your life. The writers more often than not, choose to write to their younger selves during a particularly difficult point of their lives — usually when they’re teenagers, youthful and full of inexperience. Much of the writing is comprised of warnings, of encouragement, and all the wisdom that 20/20 hindsight has to offer.

I’d like to do that here. Except I shan’t be writing to my 16-year-old self or my 5-year-old or even 25-year-old self. They already know that it gets better. But I’ve yet to write to myself of one year prior, to 29-year-old Lindsay, on the day before New Year’s Eve, 2014.

I don’t remember what you were doing at this time, December 30, 2014, but I’m guessing you were puttering around at home after work, probably working on some writing.

I know that a day later, you’d go out for Chinese food on New Year’s Eve and have the glorious hotpot at Spices!3 called Gangster Murder Style. You’ll have a good time. Not great, but good!

2015 will be a crapshoot for you, full of weird things that you didn’t expect.

You’ll do things totally out of your comfort zone like go to the gym regularly and drive in the city. You’ll finally finish Tethered, and get it self-published. You will actually autograph copies of the book you helped make. You’ll turn 30 and simultaneously hate it and not give a shit.

You’ll try to find a new job, and feel thwarted at every step of the way. You’ll make it to 3rd and 4th round interviews, get an on-site, and it seems good. You click. You feel like you’d be a good fit there. But again and again you hear that you’re a great cultural fit, but they just want someone with “more human-centered design experience.”

So you apply to grad school so you can get that experience. You find one that’s like a fricking diamond in the rough. You research, meet with some Admissions folks, get your needed recommendations and write a kickass essay.

In May, you’ll be hedging your bets, waiting to hear back from a job you’re ambivalent about — it’s at a place that people are dying to work for (it rhymes with “smoogle”), but would it really worth the soul-sucking commute? And possibly other soul-sucking factors? At the same time you’re waiting to hear back about your grad school application. You’ll get an email one evening when you meet David at his office. You’ll exclaim, “I got into grad school!” and three of his nearby coworkers will clap for you.

You don’t get the job, because of the whole “not enough experience” thing and you’re sad, but secretly relieved. Plus, grad school.

What you don’t know, me a year ago, is that you’re going to love grad school. Your first semester will be tough, but rewarding. You’ll innovate, iterate, prototype, and even get an A in Economics. You won’t go on the party bus and you’ll agonize over it for like 3 weeks, but after it’s all said and done, you’ll be fine.

I was trying to remember what might have been worrying you/me at this time, and all I can say is that you’ll learn the true meaning of “Bye Felicia” in 2015, and you will get over it, I promise. You’ll realize that red flags just look like flags when you’re wearing rose-colored glasses.

It’s going to be a weird year. But it was actually a pretty good one. Even with all the ups and downs, you’ll find yourself stronger than ever, more you than you’ve felt in a long time. Don’t lose hope. You’re not stuck, you’re going to find a way to get through this and keep getting better and better.

More importantly, you’ll get to watch great TV shows like Bojack Horseman and Rick and Morty.