No, this isn’t your past self, or your future self, or some self that is hidden deep beneath the folds that only comes out on Sunday afternoons. (Though, if you catch wind of that third one, you should probably get that checked out) No, this is you, right now, in your current state. Hey.
I’m writing to tell you that you’re unhappy. You are. And even though it’s not the kind of unhappiness that cripples you, it’s still prominent, and you need to address it.
You need to make changes. Big and small. And you need to be brave.
First off, you need to get a new job. The one you have right now just isn’t cutting it. I know, I know, this is a touchy subject. But it’s arguably the most important. You’ve been at this job for almost 10 years now and it’s been great. You’ve learned a lot. More than you realize sometimes. And you are grateful for everything everyone here has done for you. They’ve watched you grow up. They congratulated you when you graduated college and encouraged you when you started to pursue writing. But they also look at you, they wonder—or at least that’s what you assume—they want to ask you, but they don’t: how long will you be here?
This is a family business after all. It’s been passed down three generations and you would be a logical choice for number four. But you don’t want it. You don’t want to stay here and carry on, no matter how noble or nostalgic that may seem. Maybe you’ll inherit it and keep it running in your name. Maybe you’ll be the face behind the scenes, but you don’t want to stay here. You don’t want to exist only here.
You want—no—you need to get out of here. Because as much as you can survive here, you’ll never thrive. And that’s what stewing deep down inside you: the need to thrive.
You’ve felt it for a while now, but you couldn’t quite make out what it was. You have come to work frustrated and short-tempered and gone home regretful and confused. It’s not this place. It hasn’t changed. It hasn’t declined. You’ve just grown. These old clothes are too small now, and you need to buy some new ones.
Secondly, you need to start failing harder.
I know you have dreams. Big ones. Some bigger than you’d dare say out loud. You get that feeling in your stomach, like you’re really meant to do something good. Something that sticks. Start following that feeling because none of it is out of your reach. Start making big scary jumps alongside the small safe steps. Try hard, fail harder, and then succeed infinitely.
Write your dreams down. All of them. Even that one. You’ve been thinking about it for years. It’s time you stopped pretending like you don’t want it more than anything.
Thirdly, you need to you remember me—you.
You need to remember that you are equally as worthy of the kindness and patience and respect you so desperately try to give to everyone else and you need to remember that there’s no shame in admitting that. You need to remember that to do all the things you want to do—to find happiness, to make your dreams come true, to thrive—you need to be you. To love you, for you. Because that’s the only way you make it out of here. Out of this place you wrote this. Out of this secret unhappiness. You need to admit you’re unsatisfied and then you need to do something about it.
I recommend you start now.