Four years ago, I took a psychology class. It was one of those “Easy A” classes that everyone took because it was a fun way to finish out senior year. Four years ago, I made a time capsule in that class that would be mailed to me right around the time I was graduating from college.
This week, I received that time capsule. I totally forgot about it and my mom and I couldn’t figure out where it had come from. It was addressed to me from my grandparent’s beach house in RI that I spend time at in the summer. Looking back, I did that because I wasn’t sure if we would still be living in NH and I knew the beach house would still be around.
It was what I found inside the time capsule that really shocked me. Not only did I have letters written to me from four of my best friends and my mom, but I also had written a letter to myself and included a paper I wrote that really broke my heart. I thought a lot about the contents of the envelope and I am going to post excerpts here, because I found them really interesting.
From the paper I wrote:
“My need to achieve in everything I do makes life both incredibly stressful and rewarding at the same time. Yes, I work hard. No, I don’t have a lot of free time. But the praise I get after I make my way to the top is a feeling I wouldn’t give up. To me, it is worth stressing myself out and working harder than I need to in order to achieve my goals… I look to my parents for approval. The constant desire to make them proud has consumed me. They motivate me to constantly pressure myself to succeed in everything I do.”
This made me cry when I read it. I’ve come such a long way from the 18-year-old writing this for class, but there is so much truth to it that it terrifies me. I wrote in other parts of the paper that I would feel like I was disappointing my parents if I didn’t do well in a race or if I didn’t get an A on a Calculus test. The fact that I legitimately believed that is heartbreaking.
The letter from my mom:
“How old we feel with a 22-year-old getting ready to graduate college. You have made us so proud, continuing to excel at everything you do. We so hope you get that job in Boston…You know we are here for you no matter what.”
What a contrast from the thoughts I had written. My mom wrote the letter in a sealed envelope so this is the first time I’m reading it. She also mentioned them moving to Jamestown, which has always been my dream. That hasn’t changed. It definitely brought tears to my eyes.
Letters from my friends:
“I guess you’ll be reading this in four years. That makes me want to look back. Do you remember…? P.S. I hope you didn’t forget me.”
“I hope that everything is going well and that you are not stressing too much. Hopefully you have graduated college instead of dropping out to be a (insert bad word here that give me a lot of spam). HAHAHA…I hope that college went well and that you had a few drunken nights. Even though I doubt it.”
“I hope that you are happy where you are at this point. I bet you rocked college and a couple of boats at the same time. You are probably a rocket scientist, literally… I really hope you’ve had a drunken night or at least some fun at some late nights…When you read this CALL ME that would be a blast just because you will laugh at my bad decisions.”
It’s funny that some things haven’t changed a bit, and also kind of sad that I was looked at as the girl that stressed myself out so much that everybody around me knew it. I smiled at some of the memories my friends shared, teared up at others, and shared others with my mom cracking up. Especially those drunken nights- clearly my friends knew me well
And lastly, from myself:
“…Do you remember…? They say our life is shaped by our past events. I wonder if these events truly did shape the person you’ve become, or if they were bumps on the path to finding out who you truly are…Maybe you won’t be a picky eater anymore. I hope life is everything you expected it to be and more. Who are you? Do you drink alcohol now? Did you find the guy of your dreams? There are so many unanswered questions…For you, this letter is all history. For me, it’s my future.”
That was a strange letter to read. Most of it isn’t actually relevant to my life anymore and were things that I thought would matter and didn’t. Reading these letters and messages from myself and my friends and family were really eye-opening. I’m so glad my teacher had us do that project four years ago, and I’m so glad I’m not the person I thought I would become today. Although I am still a picky eater. Too bad.
The girl that wrote that paper and those letters is still here. But I’d like to think I’ve come a long way since the time I used to spend obsessing over every minute detail of my life to the point where I felt like I was letting everyone around me down. Reading those letters was a big wakeup call. I don’t want to be remembered as the girl that spent her life stressing over homework assignments and flip turns. I’m not that girl anymore. There are still traces of her, but she has evolved into someone who understands that there is so much more to life.
Have you ever done something like this and created a time capsule?
What did you think you would become when you were younger?