To My Future Self
a letter to myself a year from jan. 2023
Dear 27.5 year old Nikhil,
I’m writing to you as the year begins to thicken and the exciting commitments I’ve made over the holidays congeal into daily routine.
Do you remember 2022? It was the year that you shook free from the shackles of employment and found yourself staring into the fractally expanding abyss of possibility. It was the year that your relationship with Macc went to the next level as you began to build community and a life together in San Francisco. It was the year that you started to take your meditation practice and spirituality more seriously. It was the most pivotal year of your life thus far.
In 2022, your core struggle stemmed from a lack of focus. Even though that was kind of the point of your sabbatical, you never let yourself dive too much into anything, fearing that the next butterfly to land on your shoulder might fly away by the time you could attend to it. In this way, you spun your wheels and made lots of motion, but seemingly no progress, all at the same time.
I hope that you've instead leaned more into your obsessions and let them guide you. Your curiosity and intuition serve as your compass to take you where you want to go. Learn to embrace the joy of missing out and stay committed to the things that you've decided to spend time on — I don't think you'll have regret it.
A related pattern is that you spent a lot of 2022 concerned about outcomes. You fretted over the outcome of a project, the outcome of an application to a fellowship, the outcome of a collaboration — all while being anxious every step of the way. It’s like you so desperately wanted to prove that you could make it on your own and that your decisions were valid. The pursuit of external validation smothered your creativity.
This year, I hope you've learned to fall in love with the process of whatever it is doing. I fully believe that you can learn to love almost anything. If you're finding it difficult to enjoy (or at least stay present with) the process of something, take it as a sign that you might want to switch things up.
Take spontaneous roadtrips and don't be so logistically needy and plan out every single stop and detour. Let yourself follow the thread of your obsession and tug on it, while enjoying the experience of learning for its own sake. Don’t do something solely for the pot of gold that you may or may not find at the end.
The older I get, the more I understand the inherent power law nature of most things. Your information diet in 2022 was mostly mid-tier at best. Reading your third book on entrepreneurship isn't going to inspire you and give you the conviction you need to succeed — only depth, focus, and time can do that. Conversely, when you decided to read the Three Body Problem on a whim, it was nothing short of a spiritual experience.
I hope that this year, you've embraced the notion of just-in-time learning and read to learn relevant stuff as you're tugging on a thread rather than compulsively gathering “useful” information. And in your downtime, I hope you are able to fully embrace quality and transformational content set in fictional worlds through anime, science fiction, and truly well-written stories.
Money was a bit tight this year. You had savings, but convincing yourself to dig into them while you didn’t have stable income is a difficult proposition. By now you'll (hopefully) have a consistent source of income that is aligned with your goals. I hope that you prioritize investment in yourself more this year. Don't be shy about spending money on becoming a better version of yourself — the ROI on this is unlimited.
Above all, I hope you learn to trust that everything will work out and that the universe unfolds as it does — whether you like it or not. I use this wisdom from Micky Singer as a mantra when things go sideways, but I have no doubt that you'll continue to uncover the nuance in this truth.
This is our life. I hope you learn to love it.
With Love, Nikhil circa Jan 2023