Travel Magazine

Writing to Myself: First Sign of Madness?

By Contemplatingtheclouds @contempclouds

This is a bit of a departure from my usual updates, but this is something that I am classing as an adventure (thus totally relevant) just not in the usual sense.

FutureMe is a website with a very simple concept: “Letters to the Future“. We always look back at the past, but short of burying a time-capsule (remember those? Of ‘the millennium’ fame) and hoping we remember it’s there we can’t present something to our future selves without having to remember about it. Well, it turns out that we can. FutureMe allows you to write an email to ‘futureyou’ and then you select when you would like it delivered. Two days time? 6 months? More?

So, about a year ago I was talking to a friend about this (you probably know who you are) and got thinking that it was a pretty interesting idea. Here is what I (the younger) wrote to myself (the elder):

Dear FutureMe, 

How are you doing?
I know you/me will have pretty much forgotten what’s happened during the past 12 (or so) months, so here’s a brief run down on what’s happening, future aspirations, etc.: You are currently in a dead-end job at the Scores Hotel, you don’t like it one bit (with the exception of some of the staff, who are great); the dissertation is not going quite according to plan and it’s been suggested you should do social learning in flies – lets be honest, that’s never going to happen – so what was it in the end? You are slightly concerned about living with some almost strangers next year, but confident that it’ll work out for the best. You’ve also got a feeling of trepidation for what’s going to happen post uni. 

You did graduate, didn’t you? And please tell me that you made the 2:1, despite what you say it does mean a lot, and you know it. It should be mid July by now, so hopefully you know what next year holds, and I hope you’re happy with it. 

As it stands now there are a raft of possibilities so which way did you go? There’s Bobby Jones, did you go for it? There’s also DoR, you were still seriously thinking about it (remember?) or did you decide against it? (Let’s be honest, apart from being able fight for what you want/is right you don’t have a lot of experience). Then there’s the long-term jobs – PR, Civil service (faststream, GCHQ or Foreign office) or the outsider – working for an energy firm in renewable energy? Or are you simply off on some other tangent saving the world?  

Did you ever try for a job at the Natural History unit?

Tell me about Admissions? Was there another large shake up? It’s looking pretty much like you have Halls at this point in time, is that what happened?
Did you get to go skiing again?
How did the ‘not being involved in the union’ go? Or did you (as I suspect just now) get something to pass a little of the time? PR based or perhaps representation?
How’s the liver?

There is a chance that you read this and everything in it has gone horribly wrong, but please remember that no matter what happens it is probably for the best. When it gets tough look at that rock. Nothing that has happened to you will be harder than getting that rock, so you know you can do it.

Despite everything I am sure you will have a plan. It may be a back up, plan Z – the last chance saloon – but luck does tend to favour the prepared, so keep being stupidly organised and plan ahead. I hope you are happy, I am sure you will be.

This is only a little under a year old, this text, or to be viewed in 11 and a half months time from my current prospective, but a lot can change. One year ago you were in training for Kili, not drinking, wondering whether you would get to the top. Wondering what Junior honours would be like. It was tough (both of them), but you got through and are much the better for it. 

So smile. Four of the best years of your life may just have ended, but it means it’s time. Time for that to end and the next adventure to begin. Who knows where in the world you’ll get to in the next four! 
Have fun.
Go for it.


I had totally forgotten writing this, and so it was a complete surprise when it dropped into my inbox the other day. But a pleasant surprise none the less. I am also surprised (but also not at the same time) with how honest it is. I guess I never knew anyone else was going to read it so I could ask things I knew I would not ask out loud, or at least the sort I’d not give a straight answer to if someone else asked them.

So what about it then, those answers: I do remember the dead-end job, sadly. The dissertation was not on flies; I fought the bio dept on that one and generally made a nuisance of myself until I got a change of supervisor. I was lucky enough to get to work at Living Links in Edinburgh zoo with the capuchin monkeys (still doing social learning); sadly it was a complete and utter failure, and not one with a particularly good final mark. The less that’s said about it the better, probably. I was nervous about the house I was living in, but (with one exception) I get/got on really well with them all and we had a blast. I still have the post-uni trepidation.

I did graduate, I don’t think that was ever in too much doubt. It is also true, although outwardly I would have been happy with a 2:2 I always wanted the 2:1, and I don’t like to disappoint myself. I graduated on 22nd June with David Attenborough and a 2:1. I am very happy about it.

Yes, I did go for BJ, but I didn’t get it. No, I did not stand for DoR. There are several good reasons for it (too long winded to go into now), but lack of practical experience was not one of them. Looking at the other sabbs perhaps it was for the best – although I do like a challenge, so that’s not an excuse. For better or for worse I did not go for it; it was the right decision at the time and it was made for good reasons and so I will stand by it (not that I have many other options). PR has changed slightly to digital marketing and is a work in progress. Withdrawing my application for the civil service faststream at the last moments was a big, and not easy decision – but again, made for good reasons and ultimately the right thing to do. And the wildcard? Well, only the other day I was looking at SSE’s website, and it’s certainly not impossible. I also love my own sarcasm to myself, knowing that I might do something totally different and unexpected, taking an opportunity that presents itself. Nothing like that has happened yet, but never say never.

Admissions. Well, that’s where I spent a lot of my year. I did get the halls job, much against my personal wishes. However, I’m pleased to say that I grabbed the proverbial bull by its horns and had a fantastic time. When I left my post in May, although still recognisable from what I took over, it has been modernised and made a little more efficient. I had a lot of fun, and unless they were lying the people I relied on did as well. Sitting on the grass at the end of the final VD (visiting day) I realised that all the hard work had been more than worth while.

I didn’t go skiing, sadly, and my union involvement was minimal – I realised that there was this thing called academics which needs tending to quite a lot in fourth year. As it stands I am not employed, but it is only temporary (if I have anything to do with it, at least). Oh, and my liver is doing pretty well – helped out by this detoxing time at home.

There were also a lot of things that I couldn’t have foreseen. I hadn’t even met one of people who would turn into a long lasting friendship when I wrote this. Hadn’t quite realised how tough dissertation writing is, or how much I would come to value the support of those around me. Didn’t know quite how much gin I would drink in the year. But it is true, ‘luck’ does tend to favour the prepared and to this day I am still a fairly organised person, but always ready to jump on an opportunity if one presents itself.

It may have been tough at times, but it was also amazing. I stared at the rock a fair few times, but more importantly: I am still optimistic about almost everything.

I had a lot of fun,

I smiled,

I went for it.

I am happy with it all.


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