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The Nightmare/the Dream


The Nightmare: Henry Fuseli (1781)


January 2020

Dear 2017 Edyn,

Greetings! I am writing you from the future. In three years you’ve accomplished so much! You were accepted to graduate school in San Francisco, your dream program, and was miraculously able to afford it. I graduated last May and was immediately offered a position at a local LGBTQ+ youth center in the heart of downtown. The money isn’t great, but you make a living doing something you love. Nanook, as always, is by your side. You’ve made new friends and are finally feeling happy…

Dear 2017 Edyn,

I am pleased to announce that you finally finished this book. You found a small publisher who took on your collection and is in the final process of publication. Don’t let the excitement deter from finishing this, but you’ve created something to be proud of. You went to San Diego for graduate school and went through the women’s studies masters. You are on track to graduate at the end of the semester. Your insecurities about your intelligence start to wane after being in school because you found a niche that allows you to flourish intellectually (we use big words now). I’m proud of you for finishing the book and completing this degree. You’re on your way to becoming something great…

Dear 2017 Edyn,

Hello from the future! Right now you’re in the process of graduate school applications. CU Denver, San Diego State, and San Francisco State. Don’t worry though, you got into CU Denver and decided to go; it made the most financial sense even though staying in Colorado wasn’t the ideal plan. School is a lot harder than you expected, and Carson J Spencer Foundation finally hired you on as a full-time employee, working under Heidi as a program developer. It gets a little overwhelming. But no more Buffalo Wild Wings! Emotionally, you’re managing. The bipolar episodes are less frequent. However, you find yourself feeling almost nothing…

Dear 2017 Edyn,

I am writing you from the future. 2020 is not too exciting. Donald Trump has driven the country into the ground, as expected. The economy collapsed, so graduate school became an unreachable goal. Financially, it wasn’t plausible. So you’re still living at Dad’s, working in a new restaurant. However, he’s planning to sell the house and move down to Florida once Daniel graduates. He’s a senior now. Abbey, Hannah, everyone has moved on. Mom and Sean sold the house and moved downtown. Time flies and you're going nowhere…

Dear 2017 Edyn,

You took everyone’s advice and received your teaching credentials. Unfortunately, teaching jobs are far and few between. Right now, you’re still teaching FIRE Within and loving it. But it’s not that exciting anymore. You’re ready for something new. The graduate school application process starts over. Maybe you’ll make it work this time. San Francisco is still your dream, but still not plausible. Money is always the problem. Money always holds you back. When are you going to figure it out? …

Dear 2017 Edyn,

Remember the many times you told yourself you were never going to make it this far in life? There’s a reason why. You’re broke. A disappointment, going nowhere. Living at home, waiting tables. Nothing has changed from where you are now. Give up…


January 2017

Dear 2020 Edyn,

A lot of choices are coming my way, and I know [most] of them. The dream is still San Francisco; a master's degree in sexuality studies to set me up for a career that may not pay well, but fulfills the passion for working with LGBTQ+ youth. Unlike Michael, I chose a career path for passion; not payout. In a perfect world, I get in and can afford it. And find housing. That’s pretty crucial. It might suck to leave home again, but this time will be different than Florida. I don’t think I’ll get sucked into the same patterns I did in college. At least I hope. I’ll land in SF with a clean slate. Nobody knows me. I can start over.

But there’s always the possibility that I’ll never end up in San Francisco. The odds are stacked against me. I met a substitute teacher last week who told me that his dream was to work in the White House and he had settled for substitute teaching decades later. He was okay with that. He had given up his dream as if it never mattered. I never want to be okay with less than what I’ve aimed for. SFSU may be out of reach, but there will always be another dream, another goal to chase. Because I don’t want to settle; I’m not going to settle. If not San Francisco State, there’s San Diego. If that fails, CU Denver. I hope you never give up.

When I was a teenager, I never saw myself having a future because I thought I would have killed myself before I had made it this far in life…I hope I’m still alive in 2020. Right now, 2020 is a mystery, and for now, I’m going through each day working towards something: something that gives me purpose.

I cannot write hypothetical situations to myself from the future because the reality is that I don’t know where I’m going to be. I don’t know who I’m going to be in three years. All I know is who I am now. I am Edyn, 22 years old, living at home…You know the rest. I hope 25-year-old me is stronger than who I am now, smarter, braver. Today I have dreams and goals. I know where I want to be in three years. However, I am aware that it might not happen in the exact fashion I want. But I’m going to keep fighting for those dreams and never compromise the big picture ambitions.

2020 Edyn, I hope that I’ve given you everything you want right now. I’ll keep fighting for us, and I’ll see you in three years. Talk to you then.


2017 Me

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