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Monday, April 24, 2017

A Message To Myself - Aged 19

A few years ago, just before I turned 30, I was tasked to write a letter to myself from ten years ago.  It proved to be a cathartic exercise, and I'm really glad I did it.  I'm thinking of doing it again when I turn 40, only to my 30 year old self.

But in the meantime...and for your amusement, I thought I'd share what I wrote here.  I'm actually working on a blog project right now, but it's not quite complete yet.  

I hope this will tide you over until then.

August 11, 2010

Dear Matthew of the past,

A couple of my friends sort of subconsciously gave me the idea to do this, so if you don't like it...that's too bad, because I have a feeling that you'll do something similar down the road.

I imagine that you're pretty excited about heading off to Carleton University to study Mass Communications, and you're probably looking forward to the birth of your newest niece or nephew next month (I won't spoil it for you now, but let's just say that come September 20, you'll know for sure).  And, as you read this, you're probably freaking out as to how I know all of this stuff.

There's a reason for that.  I'm you in the year 2010.

And, no, I'm not lying either.

Okay, so as you look on your calendar, it will read August 11, 2000. Similarly, as I look back on my calendar ten years into the future, it will be August 11, 2010. Don't worry. The world hasn't ended yet, and I am still here. There'll be a bit of a scare come 2003 with the SARS bug, and you'll have to deal with endless talk about the H1N1 virus as you enter 2009, but survived!

Just like you survived the first nineteen years of your life.

Can I just say right now how proud I am of you for making it through Commonwealth Public School?  Can I just say that I'm even more proud that you survived those five years at Brockville Collegiate Institute?  You did great, man.  Oh, sure, your average in your final term of high school was a 79.5%, which just slightly prevented you from being an Ontario Scholar (and yes, as the years go by, you will learn to accept this), but I'm not talking about your academic success, Matty boy.

I know that your high school experiences were not the best in the world.  I mean, I should know...since I'm you, right?  I know you were going into high school expecting it to be just like Saved By The Bell, where you would make friends with everyone in school, play tricks on the principal and later head down to the teen hangout.  I also know how disappointed you were when you found that high school was anything but that.  I just want you to know that it will take a lot of time and a lot of healing, but you WILL get through this.

If there's one life lesson that you'll learn over the next ten years, it's that it isn't important for everybody to like you.  What is important is maintaining contact with those who really matter.  Why, ten years from now, you're going to meet up with two people from your graduating class for dinner at Boston Pizza, and it'll be a great outing, even though it was pouring rain.

And, I know what you're saying...Brockville doesn't have a Boston Pizza.  You're right.  In 2000, it didn't.  As you'll see, Brockville will go through a LOT of changes over the next decade.  Some good, some not so good.

And, honestly, don't get freaked out by this, but in 2010, you'll still be here in Brockville.  Yes, I know what I said back in 2000...I said that I was leaving Brockville and never coming back.  The truth is, things don't exactly work out the way things want them to.  And, yes, I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but you're probably going to experience some hard times come 2002, 2003.  But, obviously, you're going to come out of this a stronger person, or else I wouldn't be here in 2010 writing this letter to, I mean, me.

I've seen some of your writing, and I think that if you stick with it, it will really get you noticed.  I mean, there's a site called Facebook where you can post Notes for people to read.  You'll discover this site roughly around late 2007.  When you do...just try writing down your feelings and your hopes and your fears.  I'm sure that the discovery that other people have gone through similar experiences that we have will give you the power to do almost anything.  I also encourage you to write for your university least for one year.  You'll get your name out there, and you'll have loads of stories to tell ten years from now about all the free concerts you attended and compact discs you got (yes, compact discs do exist in 2010, though there's this new device called the Ipod that's all the rage these days), and just all the fun experiences you had.  If I can offer you one piece of advice...keep your eyes peeled about the organization called RRRA.  They'll offer you a lot of promises and a lot of praise...and I think you're smart enough to see through the lies and find the truth.  All the same though...just keep your eyes peeled.

I also know how discouraged you were in your part-time job search during high school.  It isn't easy to find a job when your work experience wasn't that good.  I know back in 1998 and 1999 when you tried applying for a jobs at Zellers, Walmart, No Frills, and Wheeler's Independent Grocer, it made you feel sad when you didn't get a call back.  I won't spoil it for you, but four years from now, one of those places will give you a chance.  Coincidentally, two of the other places will close up, and the third is barely holding on as is.  You'll find out soon enough.

Congratulations on getting your one thousandth Archie Comic book!  That's a pretty big accomplishment.  Don't be embarrassed by it either.  I know that family members pretty much discouraged you from making your love for Archie comics public knowledge in high school, but trust me...once you flee the judgemental hell known as high school, you'll be proud.  And, keep collecting them.  I'm sure that in 2010, you'll get your 2000th book!

It's really too bad that you and I are one in the same.  Had we had a chance to meet face to face, I think you and I could have become very good friends.  I know that you always said that your weight and your lack of self-confidence in 2000 held you back from being socially capable, but if I could show you how you look now, I think it would actually show you that you will turn out okay.  I know 2009 seems like such a long time from now, but if you can wait that long, I know that things will start to get better.  You can trust me on that one.  Which, I guess means, that you'll have to believe in yourself right alongside me.

So, let me give you a taste of what else is in store for the next 10 years...

I know you're liking the new shows Survivor and Big Brother.  Would you be shocked if I told you that in 2010, these shows are still on the air?

Cell phones will continue to evolve and grow in popularity...and ten years later, you still won't have one!

You'll have dozens of friends from all over the world...and not meet any of them face-to-face.

I'll recommend a good pharmacy for you to get muscle relaxants at the cheapest cost.  You'll need them around your 23rd birthday.

Don't forget about the person who set your locker on fire in eleventh grade...if you can wait until Commencement, all will be revealled.

I have a bottle filled with paper cranes in my 2010 bedroom.  They were given to me by someone who you'll meet in Ottawa.

You won't have met Ms. Right in 2010, unfortunately...but I promise time passes on, you won't nearly be bothered by it.

That's it for now.  Say hi to Mom and Dad for me, and please, please, give Ol' Thum a pat on the back for me, and keep giving him love for as long as you can.  You won't ever regret it.

Stay strong, 19-year-old Matthew, and remember...29 is gonna be a good's all up to you.

29 Year Old Matthew

MWT - 8/11/2010

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