If there's one thing the past year has taught us, it's that life is full of uncertainties
We started the year off with big plans arranged throughout the year, only to have many cancelled or delayed indefinitely. Many of us, on the other hand, have not seen our family for months due to travel restrictions.
However, life has always been unpredictable, right? And sometimes things may not work out how we expected them to, but we can always hope for the best, prepare for the future, and strive to be better versions of ourselves.
If you could write a letter to your future self, what would it be? We asked a few Malaysians to share:
1. "I'm writing from 2021, and I don't know if you'd remember but we've been at home for far too long due to the pandemic"
"Dear future me,
I'm writing from 2021, and I don't know if you'd remember but we've been at home for far too long due to the pandemic.There’s so much I’d like to do. But I can't. So, I hope that you haven't forgotten what it’s like and I hope that you haven't taken life for granted.
I hope that you've gone out and done the things you've always wanted to do, not the things you're supposed to do.
I hope that you've finally learnt 'how to adult'.
I hope that you have your own place now.
I hope you have a dog as you've always wanted.
I hope that you learnt to both eat well and keep fit.
I hope that you have found a passion to pour your heart and soul into.
I hope that you've learnt how to save money and how to invest.
But most of all, I hope that you have travelled the world and spent as much time with friends and family. I know that often, we get too caught up with optimising our life, we forget to live it. I hope you haven't forgotten, or if you have, it's okay, tomorrow is another day.
- May, 26
2. "I am bruised, grateful, inspired, and the most passionate and truthful I've been in a long time and I can only hope you feel the same right now. Okay, maybe a little less bruised and more healed."
"Dear 40-year-old Nandini (wah can't believe that's just 10 years from now. Sis is old dy),
I'm writing this a couple of weeks before I'll turn 30 and God, I'm excited for what's in store for us!
I am bruised, grateful, inspired, and the most passionate and truthful I've been in a long time and I can only hope you feel the same right now. Okay, maybe a little less bruised and more healed.
Since we're big on the road not taken, life will most likely throw some unexpected challenges along the way. But challenges have always made you smarter and stronger. Don't forget that when you're in the thick of it. I want you to remember every experience you've gone through and bits of wisdom you've gained along the way. In summary, self-love is more than just doing skincare – take a damn break, don't be afraid to declutter your mind and be truthful about your feelings, and please, please remember your worth.
When things get really rough, reach out to your loved ones. They'll knock some tough love into your head and remind you HOW FAR YOU'VE COME. So, stop beating yourself up over everything. IT'S OKAY. YOU'LL BE OKAY. Pretty sure you'll read this in the future and wonder why on earth were there so many 'remembers' in this letter. But you always forget, so..."
- Nandini, 30
3. "You have always been calm, patient, grateful, and have a very balanced attitude towards money. Never ever change."
"Dear future Ronn,
Remember during the early 90s when we couldn't even afford to buy RM1.20 snacks? Remember those days mummy didn't like ordering drinks in restaurants because she wanted to save every single RM1.00?
Nevertheless, life was still happy and good because we were always grateful and had modest expectations for everything. We never got angry about this 'unfair' life, and we didn't compare our lives with more well-off people, but instead, we moved on and kept improving our life to be better with a lot of patience.
Today, our life is so much more comfortable to the point we don't blink our eyes anymore for RM5.00 snacks. We also brought mummy on a trip to Japan and Korea without straining us financially. We have come a long way and I'm very sure the quality of our life will keep improving for years to come.
Money, in some sense, does bring happiness and is also a very important enabler to do many awesome things, but I hope that you will never forget that being happy and content with our life is of utmost importance to us. You have always been calm, patient, grateful, and have a very balanced attitude towards money. Never ever change."
- Ronn, 36
4. "I hope you're happy with your job, whatever it may be because your 23-year-old self wanted to be a lawyer, successful businesswoman, an influencer, professional taste-tester, have a show of her own and to basically be rich. So, I hope you're rich and happy with life because you deserve the absolute best for making it as far as you have!"
"Hi, Anilah (omg it feels so weird addressing myself with my own name).
Anyways, how are you? I really hope you're at a point in life where you're simply happy with it. You love life. You love the people you're with. You find pleasure in the simplest of things.
I wonder who you've grown up to become. I hope you're braver, kinder, stronger, more independent, more loving, responsible, smarter and generally a better person than the 23-year-old me who is writing this letter.
I hope you're happy with your job, whatever it may be because your 23-year-old self wanted to be a lawyer, successful businesswoman, an influencer, professional taste-tester, have a show of her own and to basically be rich. So, I hope you're rich and happy with life because you deserve the absolute best for making it as far as you have!
Don't forget to tell the people you love that you love them. Spend more time with your family and friends. Tell them you’re grateful for them and be grateful. In the midst of life itself, don't forget to love yourself!!"
- Anilah, 22
5. "I hope you're treating Amma and Appa well. They might be pretty old by now so always remember to love them with everything you have. After all, you're the only child they have."
"What's up, future bud! It's me from 2021...
I honestly don't know where to start. It's been a rough year here but hey, we're here to talk about the future.
I really hope you learned how to adult by now, because I honestly still can't figure out how to do my taxes. Also, please tell me you built some sort of savings... I've been spending quite a bit of money here.
On a serious note, I hope you're treating Amma and Appa well. They might be pretty old by now so always remember to love them with everything you have. After all, you're the only child they have.
I'm sure you found a partner by now, and hopefully someone who loves you for who you are. You have a big heart now, and I hope you still have a big heart in the future. I really can't imagine how you look like but I will do everything I can here to make sure you get to live a modest life.
Can't wait to see what car you drive in the future. :p"
- Suresh, 25
6. "Got kids? Man, I can't imagine having kids... But I hope that if you did, you'll take good care of 'em."
What's it like to be old? Does your back still hurt? 'Cause mine already does. T_T
Haha, but for real though, I really hope you're doing okay. I wonder what life must be like. Are you still keeping in touch with the fam? Family comes first, no matter what. Make sure you've got their backs, and they'll have yours. Fights will happen, but y'all can bounce back from those.
What about Firdaus, are we happily married? Got kids? Man, I can't imagine having kids... But I hope that if you did, you'll take good care of 'em. 'Cause I always worry about whether I'd be a good enough mum. But I guess deep down, I know you will be able to at least treat them with kindness and lotsa love.
Before I go, I just gotta say, the future will always be uncertain. It is for me, and still is for you right now. So whatever happens, never lose hope okay? I'm so proud of you for making it this far. Keep moving forward. ;)"
- Shiffa, 26
7. "Hope that you and F are building your own happy family together. Remember, she’s the one. Never feel you are against one another. Take on life together as a team and communicate healthily."
"Dear future me,
I hope things are going alright with you.
Let me just start off this letter by giving you some context on where I am in life right now. I have my dream job; I have my dream girl and I am going to marry her next year. We managed to overcome a lot of hurdles, both external and internal in order to make this relationship healthy and strong.
Ma and Pa are doing okay. They are in good health and are setting an example of how adulting should be done. I do not feel like an adult yet, although I am closer to 30 than 20 and it still feels like I have got a long way to go. Let me know when you feel like I have made it yeah?
Anyway, that is where I am in life right now. I hope that you have only become stronger. We managed to overcome a lot of things in the past 5 years. We are no longer trapped in that pit of depression and self-loathing. Here's to hoping 'he' hasn’t had the chance to visit you.
Here are some tips that we can use to keep 'him' at bay, in case you ever forget:
- Don't dwell on things that have happened; especially if we have no control over changing the aftermath
- Love yourself, and if you can't, don’t deny the love that your friends and family have to offer
- Life is to be enjoyed, no reason to get mad over anything. Ever.
Lastly, hope that you and F are building your own happy family together. Remember, she’s the one. Never feel you are against one another. Take on life together as a team and communicate healthily.
- H, 27
8. "I know you’d be thinking, 'Why was I like this back then ah?'"
"Dear future self,
I hope that when you're reading this, you have become a better me.
Remember all the inner fears and insecurities that you once faced? All the late nights you spent staying awake and doubting yourself, afraid of how others think about you and worrying about almost every single thing? All the tears you shed, the regrets, and all the peer pressure and lack of confidence, thinking that you will never meet the expectations... (I know you’d be thinking, 'Why was I like this back then ah?')
Because by the time you're reading this, you will be the one that you dreamed to be and living the life that you planned and anticipated. I hope that you are living the life to the fullest, making the most out of each day, and constantly having the desire to learn and grow. As always, I hope that by the time you see this letter, you will have accepted the fact that neither of us are perfect. We all have flaws. And it is how you embrace your imperfections which makes a difference. I have faith in you and I trust that you'll be great.
Until we meet, future self."
- Amanda, 20
9. "Is it true that when you grow into your 30s, things start to settle down?"
"Dear future me,
Is it true that when you grow into your 30s, things start to settle down?
It’s nice being friends with 30-year-old somethings. You would know. They bring something to the table of which my usual friends don’t. Maybe it’s experience. They say time starts to run slower when you grow older.
When you were in your 20s, you were that hot-blooded, passionate but also confused person. You felt like you learnt a lot but truthfully, you had miles ahead to go. That youthful uncertainty sucked because it made you bold yet hesitant at the same time. But after talking to my new friends, I really felt understood. It’s like they knew the exact confusion I was going through, so when they said ‘hang in there’, it felt like they really meant it, you feel me?
So what I wanted to ask you, since you’re much older now, are you that ‘30-year-old’ to someone else in your life? With age comes experience and I really hope one day when you have (I mean, me) conquered the frustrations and dilemmas of being an unemployed fresh graduate, you would share some of that nice feeling with your juniors. I needed it, so maybe they would need it too.
Also, how’s your luck with the ladies? I hope that improves with time too."
- Jeff, 23
10. "I forced myself to put my earnings aside in EPF, so that it'll be there safe and sound until I retire. Life feels overwhelmingly exhausting right now but I'm doing this for YOU, future self."
"Dear older and wiser Nicole,
I've always known how important it is to save up for my future. But not gonna lie... There have been times, once or twice... Or more, where I picked into my savings to shop or travel.
When the pandemic hit, I witnessed firsthand just how fast your whole life savings could deplete in a matter of months like how my parents' did. I'll never forget how stressful it was worrying over when their next paycheck would come in and the guilt I felt from being a spendthrift in the past.
I started taking on a small hustle on top of my full-time job to get some extra income. And knowing how impulsive I can be, I forced myself to put my earnings aside in EPF, so that it'll be there safe and sound until I retire. Life feels overwhelmingly exhausting right now but I'm doing this for YOU, future self. As much as I want to check out my shopping carts right now, I know it'll be more worthwhile 30 years from now when I can officially sit back and live the tai tai life."
- Nicole, 23
We hope these letters were inspiring and helpful in some ways. The future may not turn out like how we hoped and dreamed them to be, but that doesn't mean we can't plan for what's to come. Stay strong. <3