aborted letter to My 25-Year-Old Self

July 12, 2013

This post was provoked by http://www.letterstomy25yearoldself.com/, an art piece collecting, funnily enough, letters from people to their twenty-five-year-old selves. I started to email them and then realised I really didn’t want to write the chirpy, encouraging thing they appear to be aiming for, and then got sidetracked really quickly into critique of the form and thinking about the public/private dichotomy. As a result, you get this instead.

 
Hey sparkypants.*

me, you, some small cafe and a couple hot chocolates. Whatcha say? Both of us deliberately self-conscious, fiddling with the sugar, doubled up in the same space. If I could tell you anything at all, what would it be? Should I even try? You’re a year away, and by the time I reach you, I’ll be gone. I’ll never read your reply.

Maybe it’s a monologue. That’s what letters are essentially, right? And this is a monologue meant to be overheard. They said brave, honest and personal, and in absolute secrecy, yes, that’s oneself with oneself, arms stretched out in silence, naked without fear. You are my own true self and I am not afraid of you. Brave, honest and personal in public, however, is performance. Me and you, enacting secrets for others to read, pretending not to notice, pretending we’re not observed. Pretending. Is it possible to be anything other than self-conscious? Someone walks into a room in front of someone else, your lecturers said, and that’s theatre.

Such lies. You and I can be the tightrope of meta, dear. Every note rings false, when you write to yourself for someone else to see, when you set out to write a deeply private letter for an audience to sit in on. It’s all suddenly, alarmingly scripted. All carefully chosen. How do I want to be seen, now? How shall we come across? Shall I be hopeful? Ask you questions? Cheer you on? Shall I tell you what you’ll be doing next year, or be surprised? Be jovial, chirpy, melancholy, musing, enthusiastic, encouraging? Nah. I don’t think we fit the criteria for this site. I don’t think we were made to be self-consciously, determinedly twee.

You wrote a letter to your thirty-four-year-old self, earlier this year. And one to your fourteen-year-old-self. Both are private. Both are private for a reason. You’ve always wondered about the line between the private and the public selves, how much to give away, how much to keep. Used to hurt more, I think, choosing; when you were younger, you’d say everything to anyone, and now you’re a lot less splashy, and you say a lot less, and what you say is deliberately chosen. Seems to be easier, now, deciding what not to say.

Besides, you’re good at pretending that this is some quiet, secluded corner of the internet that only your closer friends are aware of, because this is more or less some quiet, secluded corner of the internet only your closer friends are aware of. More or less. Trying to do the same thing in a place with much more exposure that is deliberately collecting this kind of pretense, however, is stretching your ability to pretend a little too far.

Am I still talking to my twenty-five-year-old-self? Dammit, I am. You’re not far enough away for this, missy. Just around the block does not constitute reason enough for a conversation. Or a hopeful, encouraging, self-congratulatory pep talk. There’s no real mystery to your affairs, nothing really to ask about. I’m currently making the decisions that’ll affect you, and you’ll know how it turns out, so there’s no point telling you anything. Or really, asking you much, since I’ll find out if I wait a little, and right now it all looks set to all look the same for another two years. Life is study and then sleep.

And to be honest, all the things I write are to all my yous in the future, so- whatever. Don’t try this again, silly girl. Give it a gap of five years, at least. Now I shall hop offline to read McKillip’s Solstice Wood, you can hop elsewhere to read whatever it is you’re reading now, and all the small things in between we’ll find out as we go.

 

much love, twitface-

 

you.

 

 

*I have never in my life called myself sparkypants. See contents of this blogpost as to why I might have decided to now.

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