Your Future Self

Pfeiffer Beach California

Image and text by Gabrielle.

I feel like I age in spurts — like I look the same for years at a time, then suddenly, over a few weeks, I look several years older. For example, I’m quite sure I could have passed for 20 until I was 25, then overnight, I looked like I was 25 — that sort of thing. And from what I can tell, I think I’m in one of my aging spurts right this minute. When it ends, I’ll tell you how old I look. Hah!

Late last night, I was taking off my makeup and taking out my contacts and chatting with Ben Blair about my possible aging spurt, and I asked him how he pictured his adult life when he was a kid or a teenager. I was curious to know how far into the future he had imagined himself. We both discovered that we hadn’t thought past 25. We had vaguely assumed a stereotypical life of kids, house, pet — but we had never considered what we ourselves would be like in our 30’s or beyond. It made me wonder if that is a typical thing for a child (not being able to conceive of a future self), or if there are people that have thought ahead to every stage of their someday life.

Ben mentioned he’d read something about this topic, so I looked it up — it’s an NPR article. Turns out, people that envision their future self tend to make better decisions now. Which makes sense, of course! If you can picture yourself as an 85-year-old, an actual person who has a weekly tennis match and is learning to speak Chinese, I can imagine you’d be more likely to take better care of your body today.

One quote from the article that stuck with me is: “…when we think about ourselves in the future we actually use the same part of our brain that we use when we think about a stranger.” To me, that says we honestly can’t imagine that we ourselves will really, truly age — a stranger will age, but not us. That we truly think we’ll be young (or at least our current age) forever. Fascinating!

So my questions for you are: How often, if ever, do you picture your future self? And as a child, did you ever consider the idea that someday you would be 35, or 46, or 57, or 78…? I’d love to know!

P.S. — I imagine this is true for most people, but I don’t really look in a mirror except during my morning and evening routines (and sigh, sometimes I skip the evening routine). This means I’m fairly regularly surprised when I look in the mirror and wonder, “Did I look like that all day?” Or, “When did that lovely little blemish arrive?” Tell me I’m not the only one! Are you ever surprised when you look in the mirror?

P.P.S — Yesterday was packed full of Alt Summit meetings and I didn’t get a chance to respond to your excellent comments about zero tolerance. But I’m off to do so now! Also, watch for a second Design Mom post later today.

102 thoughts on “Your Future Self”

  1. You know, that’s really true. I’m trying to imagine myself at 60 or 80 right now, and it’s difficult. Maybe I’m afraid to tempt fate. ;)

    I would say that, rather than specifically imagining myself at future ages, I’ve watched my grandparents and parents and seen what works for them (or doesn’t). Grandpa’s daily exercise habit (and subsequent great health at 88) inspires me to exercise, too. At the same time, my beloved grandmother’s struggle with dementia has me thinking about ways I can try to help keep my parents, my husband, and myself from going through that, too. Lots of crossword puzzles and learning new things, right?!

    Great questions!

  2. I love this topic! Since about my teens I have had this vague romantic dream of being an old eccentric lady sitting on the porch with my husband holding each others wrinkly hands. Within that dream I knew we had kids and grandkids etc. The funny thing about that has always been that I couldn’t ever fathom, and I still can’t now, the journey to that dream beyond the next year or two. I find it fun.

    1. I have had this same dream since my teens. I have a vision of a gorgeous wraparound porch and all my kids and grandkids running around while I sit with my husband in a rocker built for two.

  3. I never looked younger than I am… And I don’t think that is going to change. I have been pleased with aging in the sense that I seem to be less vain as I grow older. Which I love! Vanity is so tiresome!

    And I often think of myself as an old lady… But I am a hospice doc… So the grace of getting to old age is not lost on me. There is a Native American thought I have heard that looking at one selfs in the mirror too much is not natural. We were not meant to study our own looks. I love that idea. I wish I could abide!

  4. You’re not alone, I sometimes like myself when looking in the mirror, but other times, I want to say “who’s that old, tired-looking woman in there?” !

    But what really gets to me are selfies, if I accidentally switch my i-phone to the selfie command, I’m horrified at the person suddenly reflected on the screen, ho-rri-fied!

    1. Hah! Been there done that. When the camera accidentally turn to selfie mode I can’t turn it back fast enough!! If I turn it to selfie mode intentionally, I’m more mentally prepared. : )

    2. Cath, I have never commented on any blog I follow, but I had to tell you that I laughed out loud at your accidental selfie comment! “Hor-ri-fied” is right!

  5. Pingback: Your Future Self | Jerbelle Lau

  6. I thought for as long as I can remember that I when I would get old, I would feel really free, like “I don’t give a damn” free. My morning image this morning certainly shocked me. And, when will selfies end? I’ve seen boys with duck faces!!

  7. I think I look old in photos the past few years in the mirror I just see me. A few summers ago, I got asked if I was the mother of the bride at church. Noooo…..TWICE! Luckily my husband’s niece was a BYU student. (hence, young bride!) The other day at church someone thought I looked like a teenager. When I was 20 I didn’t like looking like I was 15, but now I do. :)

    1. I love your comment! I feel like I’m the only adult really who loves to run around with the kids of the family especially barefoot all summer long…a wonderful feeling!

  8. I find when I think of myself in the future, it’s linked to events like my children graduating or at their wedding and then I find myself envisioning someone like my mom and not me…I guess it’s something a little too uncomprehendable (is that even a word), so I insert the thing most familiar. One nice thing is I have much older sisters and they have all aged wonderfully so I always picture myself looking younger than I really am. That NPR article sounds interesting…I’m going to have to go read it now.

    1. I have two older sisters, but they’re only a few years older than me — but still, I use them as a reference for what’s heading my way.

      My hair starting turning gray when I was 13, and I started dyeing my roots at around 27. But my sisters didn’t gray prematurely, so I watch them to imagine what an alternate graying timeline would be for me, so that I can gauge when I might feel comfortable leaving the dyeing behind.

      1. My mom had the rule that it was time to go grey the minute she had her first grandchild. Definitely made it a happy thing for mom.

  9. To your PS: I look in the mirror much more frequently than that! I would have thought the opposite of your gut – what’s everyone else’s daily mirror routine? Every time I use the restroom I look in the mirror. That’s probably 6-8 times a day, plus the occasional make up touch up. I know you mentioned being able to hold your bladder for long periods of time.

    1. Interesting connection, Robin! I bet you’re right. I bet my infrequent bathroom visits are tied to my infrequent mirror time.

      I hope other readers chime in with their average number of mirror checks in a day!

        1. I haven’t noticed a decrease with age, but I have noticed a difference depending on how many mirrors I have hanging in my home and where they are located. For example, if I had a mirror at the front door, I imagine I would glance at myself as I walked in and out from errands.

          1. Every time I use the restroom, plus sometimes guilty of glancing at myself in the rearview mirror in the car (at a stoplight)… I’m 25 so maybe it does decrease with age!

          2. I do have a mirror by the front door and I NEVER look in it. I completely forget its there. In fact, if I’m headed out and want to do a quick lipstick check, I dash back to the bathroom mirror. LOL

  10. I will be 25 in a couple months, that is probably as far as I thought as a child. I had a lot of vague ideas about things I would do when I grew up, but didn’t really think about corresponding ages. To a child age is irrelevant, there are parent adults, non-parent adults, and grandparent adults. Every adult met is classified like that.
    My husband and I talk a lot about what we want to be like over the next several decades. It involves doing a lot of stuff we have dreamed about since we were kids. I hope I can look over my life and say it was not wasted. I am really enjoying you posts lately. Thought-provoking and fun!

    1. So true, Caitlin! One funny thing for me to discover as a parent (maybe everyone else already knew this) is when I realized that my kids see all adults as basically the same age. They seem to be able to contrast a 20 year old and an 80 year old, but everyone in between is just a grownup.

  11. When I was a late teen and starting college, I always thought about my future self in terms of being 25. That would be the magical age at which I had really come into adulthood: a career, a husband, a home, etc. But in a few months I will turn 24 and none of those goals are looking particularly attainable by 25, so I’ve noticed that in the past year I’ve started conceiving of them at the age of thirty. I don’t like to think past thirty because I’m afraid of what my reaction will be if I haven’t attained those classic markers of adulthood by that age.

    1. I love your comment, Amanda. I’m sure many of us do the same thing — push back our goal dates when our imagined existence isn’t quite happening yet. I can’t imagine a more natural reaction.

    2. Amanda – I read your comment and I kind of feel like I had the same thoughts at 30. I am 32 and I have a career, but I don’t have a husband or a home. I rent and I’m single. I have recently come to the realization that my career is not necessarily a fulfilling one. It is a good one but I would like to be doing something else. Who is to say what makes you (or me, or anyone) an adult? We can each define adulthood in our own way. Some people buy houses early, some get married young, some don’t find the true career they love until they’ve officially retired and started their own business. I have let go of the notion that I need to do things by a certain age and I am just enjoying the journey.

  12. As a kid I used to think about being an adult and being able to eat cereal for every meal because I would be in charge, I was going to be a life guard or a cooking lady on TV. As a teenager I mostly thought about how I would be different than the adults in my life (i am not) but probably did not think much beyond what you did.
    Now in my mid 30’s I think a lot about my future self, but I should be basking in all that is great now: my 4 kids and watching them grow. But now I dream of my future self, and it is mostly selfish. I imagine having time to do all that I want, training for an Ironman, placing in my age group in races (because of default), gardening, throwing on my wheel, how clean my house will be, serving a mission with my husband (only non selfish desire!) But it is true. I know that having a vision is keeping me healthy and strong for these endeavors…and the GRANDCHILDREN i will have.

    1. I’m inspired by your comment, Heidi! I rarely if ever imagine my future grandchildren, but I should. I love that your vision is keeping you healthy and strong. I need to develop my own vision that will get me making healthier decisions.

  13. I think about aging only in that I think about being retired (I’m in my early 40s, so have some time!). I imagine that next phase of life, getting to spend more time doing things I love (hobbies), traveling, and enjoying grandbabies (those are waaaaay in the future, I hope!). Occasionally, I worry that I’m tempting fate to think we’ll have all that time and good health, but I’m trying to worry less this year :)

    I realize that even when I look in the mirror (getting ready in the a.m., washing my hands, etc), I rarely take the time to really look at myself, you know? I may notice a blemish, wrinkle or something I don’t like about myself, but I have a hard time judging how old I look. Although as I’m writing this, I’m realizing I’m very judgmental about how I look. I suppose that’s another topic entirely, isn’t it?

    1. I do know what you mean about not really looking at myself in the mirror. I might look at my lipstick or my hair, but I rarely give myself a long deep look to get a true overall picture.

  14. I remember when I was young taking the city bus to the mall and would see little old ladies all dressed up going shopping and I thought, wow, I hope do that when I’m an old lady. It was exciting then to take the bus somewhere! :)

    Now I am older and am often surprised at my own reflection –especially in the car for some reason (should take the bus maybe)! I sometimes think of myself seeing my daughter graduate from high school or get married, and think I won’t look any older than I do now! That’s my hope anyway.

    1. “and think I won’t look any older than I do now”

      I was thinking of this exact thing just the other day! Our little Oscar’s birthday is today. My mother was almost 30 when I was born, and I was almost 30 when Oscar was born. So it suddenly occurred to me, that the way I picture my mother, and the age she has appeared to me over the years, is probably very much what Oscar is seeing. Very strange for me to ponder!

  15. I was a little bit (but not very much) wild in my late teens & twenties. I honestly couldn’t imagine meeting someone who would put up with me, or love me enough to marry. When I thought of my future, I imagined myself as a tough single mom with one son, a dog, and we were all drove around in an open-air Jeep! :D

    Cut to today: very happily married for almost 17 years, 2 kids (a girl and boy), ensconced in suburbia. No dog, but we’ve recently acquired 2 spoiled guinea pigs.

    1. Your comment made me laugh, Kelly!

      I’ve jokingly told our kids that the family tattoo policy is: not allowed until you are at least 40.

      I just think it’s so hard to imagine that the things you love as a teenager are not going to be as important to you just a few years down the road. : )

  16. I’ve always looked younger than my age. I will be 33 in June but I am frequently asked if I’m 25/26. On occasion I’ll get 22/23 and I am not complaining! I just have a young face. I can’t imagine what I will look like when I’m in my 40’s, 50’s, and up, but I can certainly imagine what I would like my life to be like and where I would like to be. I picture a silhouette of myself doing the things I want to be doing.

  17. I think that when I imagine myself in the future it is usually in the context of what kind of mother/person I want to be. I’m not a mom yet but I often think about who I would like to be when I take on that roll. When I think about it though, I never assign an age to the future person I’m thinking of, just a type of person I want to be!!

  18. I love this post, because it’s showed me that I’m not alone or weird in having trouble picturing myself in the future. Not just the far future, either–even the near future gives me pause. That whole ‘where do you see yourself in 5 years’ question is one I dread in any situation. As a kid my future thoughts varied based on age. When I was really little I wondered what I’d be like at 16. Then as I got older I pushed the future age out, but didn’t go much past the mid-20s. The closest I’ve gotten to future-thinking is realizing that some portions of my life turned out different than I’d expected (i.e. I got married and had kids earlier than I’d anticipated), but that’s about it.

    I’ve been working a lot lately on trying to do more future-thinking (without disrupting my goal of ‘being in the moment’ too much, either…ah, balance). We’ll see if this way of thinking is anything like a muscle and gets stronger with exercise :)

  19. This is fascinating. I never pictured myself past about 25 either. But I didn’t necessarily think about the age, I just imagined growing up, going to college, and getting married. Which I assumed would sum up to about 25 years old. Maybe that’s part of why it’s hard still being single—I never pictured what I would do as the years went on if I didn’t end up having a family, so I feel a little bit at a loss sometimes. Thanks for the interesting read!

  20. I’m 32 and I don’t think I ever imagined the life I have now (although I am very grateful for it!). I have recently started thinking of myself in the future and I know I want to be very smart and always have long hair, even when it turns totally gray, which I will tie it up with ribbons and scarves because I don’t think, even then, I’ll believe that “age-appropriate” will apply to me.

    And I am totally opposite when it comes to looking at my reflection. I look every chance I get. And I always strike a flattering pose and compliment myself, like, “Oooh, look how pretty I am!” I think that probably sounds a bit immature and maybe even vain but I’m a stay at home mom so I can’t always count on someone else to be around to compliment me so, just in case, I do it myself. Ha!

    1. Ha, this made me laugh! I’m way too self-conscious to strike a pose. If I saw you do it, it would probably make me want to be friends with you!

    2. I was delighted to read you strike a pose and compliment yourself. That’s brilliant! If only all women did this instead of mentally calling out their perceived “flaws” every time they see their reflection.

  21. When I was a child and thought about the year 2000, I dismissed it as SO far away because I would be so old–in my 30s. Now it is 13 years past that time and I am 49! It wasn’t until my mid-forties that I started envisioning myself with more detail in the future. Midlife has done something to me–really made me realize that I won’t be here forever so I better enjoy what I have going NOW. Also, I need to treat my body and spirit with greater respect and love so that I WILL be able to enjoy the decades ahead.

  22. My mom once told me that you never really feel your age: you just feel like yourself. One may look old, but be young at heart. Back then I remember thinking “But how can you not feel 40? or 50? That’s old.”

    My grandmother turned 50 when I was born. Throughout my childhood, she was old. Grandmas are old, everyone knows that! Now I have a daughter and I look at my parents who are 52 and 59… and guess what? They’re young! They’re (relatively) healthy, they’re full of energy, they have more time to themselves now that the kids are grown up. It’s a whole new life! I know it’s not always easy for them and that they sometimes mourn life with us as children, but I am so proud of them for trying to move on. It makes me a little less afraid of growing “old”.

    This said, I also never really pictured myself past 25, which I am now. So I guess I’m in for a lot of surprises! I am just really glad that I have met my husband and soul mate by this point, so I have someone to hold my hand along the way. And to tell me I’m beautiful. Because mirrors lie. :)

  23. i think the only thought i had about being older as a child was being free, living on my own, being an artist and having many children. i do remember wanting to have about 10 kids when i was young. i also wanted to be a teacher or snow white.

    then in my early twenties, i thought if you were over 30 you were an old person.

    now that i will be 40 this year, i think about old age through the eyes of our parents (my mom and my in laws). i see them getting old in front of my eyes and when i was young i never saw them age. now that they’re old i see through them how being 60 and 70 looks like and i think about the next few decades in front of me.

    and yes, i am surprised by the reflection in the mirror. i ask myself is that me? and as i get older i care more about how i look. i rarely wore makeup but now i try not to leave the house without my “face”!

  24. cassandraelaine

    A friend and I were discussing this today with regard to how many children we might choose to have. Do we choose to have the number of 2 year-olds we want to have in the house or do we try to envision how many adult children we would like to have in our 60’s. I can confidently say that I’ve always fitted into the latter category. I have a HARD time with little ones (and my house is currently full of them) but I don’t resent them because I hope to have rich relationships with their adult selves.

    1. So glad you said this! We’re having our first next month, and I’m going to remember this as we grow our family!

  25. The mirror comments are making me smile. I’ll add to the convo by saying I’m 37 and I probably average 5 looks a day. Gabrielle, I imagine your life too busy to spend extra seconds looking in the mirror. They all add up, right? The thoughts I have had about aging are mostly triggered by seeing older women with no wrinkles. I’ve decided for myself, I definitely want to be a wrinkly grandma.

  26. Pardon me for not answering your questions, but I am so distracted by the beauty of the beach/kids image that I just have to say I hope you frame that. Gorgeous in so many ways.

  27. I only look in the mirror twice a day. The mirror time diminished significantly when I had my son who is now 2. Self just became so much less important. I think just twice a day maybe isn’t that healthy. Perhaps I can find happy medium.

    I have often thought about how even though my age changes I still feel like the same person inside. Of course, I have changed and grown in so many ways, but the core me (one might call it ‘soul’) has never changed. That’s why it is so weird to see our body aging when what’s inside the body is actually gaining new life more and more as we live. Does that make sense?

    I do think about being the age of my parents and grandparents often because I am so connected to them. I often think how lonely it must be to be my grandparents’ age because there isn’t anyone a generation older to share that bond of “I know how you feel” with. My mom and dad can and I can bond over the fact that they know how it feels to be in their 30s with young children. But, grandma and grandpa don’t have anyone to share that bond with. It’s strange.

  28. Super article and I think it’s so true. As a child, I never pictured myself at any particular age, only doing particular things. I imagined myself with children and a husband living in a house, in an urban environment, with a small studio or art table to do my own art projects, with time to travel internationally. I think, in many ways, I modeled my life after my Grandmother, who is also an artist. I just wanted to do what she did, raise children and make art. She never traveled, but she traveled the world in her imagination with National Geographic.

    My husband and I often talk about how we see ourselves when we’re much older. We talk about selling our big house after the kids grow up, moving into something small and living all over the world, skipping from place to place. There may be some slight changes, of course, but we like to talk about the future.

    I think it’s great advice to imagine oneself in the future and have large goals. For me it’s been especially helpful finding older women to emulate, like my Grandmother. I feel so lucky to have her.

    Thank you for this post. It’s a wonderful reminder to think for the future!

  29. The best thing that ever happened to me was a Pilates class with an 80 year old woman. She was in incredible shape after 30 years of yoga and 15 of Pilates. You better believe I’ll be taking care of myself!

  30. I rarely imagine MYSELF older, but I do notice that I do things with thought to the future. For example, when we just finished our basement I made sure one of the rooms could easily fit a king-sized bed and a crib…for when our kids come back to visit with their babies! I don’t know if we’ll stay here forever, but I constantly plan things AS IF that is where we’ll be, so I guess I have a vague idea about my future self! (I should mention that I don’t have any kids out of elementary yet, so this is VERY future planning!)

  31. This is so true. I got a little stuck in the 25 rut… I have a wonderful husband, career, and home. But now I’m almost 32 and thinking about kids, and it sure is a shocker! I still feel like I’m not ready, but I need to get a move on!

  32. I’m so enjoying these comments!

    Your comment above about Oscar/you/your mother just made me realize my parents will turn 59 this year. That snuck up on me! I think they both age very well, and my siblings and I are lucky as well. I distinctly remember being similarly shocked when I realized my brother was turning 30! Not a parent or mentor adult, but my sibling! My dad is one of the most energetic and playful grandpas I know. My husband’s parents are similarly very healthy and active for their age, and I know we want to follow that route. I’ve recently dwelt a lot on how my grandfather really is showing his age- 92- and yet has maintained his garden, computer, and home canning. I hope to follow that example!

    I think I am the youngest employee on my team at work. I have definitely noted from others behaviors I want to keep and avoid, and it has motivated me to take the stairs much more! I don’t want to get stuck on that slippery slope losing health by being inactive. I have a few other “bucket list” items, too, but I still struggle to picture myself at any specific age.

    P.S. I check the mirror everytime I’m in the restroom, but briefly. Lately I’ve checked windows and mirrors much more often to see my growing pregnant silhouette. Yesterday was a good day- I felt beautiful and thus spent a few extra seconds each time I saw my reflection. Today, like most days, the makeup must have worn off faster, so I’m not as interested.

    1. Your pregnant silhouette comment in the P.S. reminded me that I too looked in the mirror more often when I was pregnant. It’s such a mind-blowing thing to see your body growing another human being.

  33. I am 25 and I look much younger. Last time I was at an R-rated movie I got carded! I’m sure I will appreciate looking young someday but not yet! I have tried styling my hair and makeup differently but I think I have a young face, also I am average height but slim boned.

    As a kid I always wanted to be 16 because it was the magical age of driving. I remember thinking it sounded so old!

  34. When I was in my 20s and oh-so-overwhelmed with little tykes, I invented my “45 List.” Everything that I thought I would like to/should be doing… but couldn’t right now… went on the list. I planned on doing it when I was 45. Now that I’m only a couple of years away from that, I’m pleased to see that I’ve already been able to work in a few of those things. I’ve already started a “50 List” and a “60 List” to look forward to.

    Also, a wise woman once advise me to make a chart, with the names of my children across the top and the years down the side – starting this year and going on for 20 years, or even until the last child is 20. Then fill in the age each child is for each year. For any given year, I will know at a quick glance how old my kidlets will be, and how old – I mean young – I will be! It has made future planning (how long should we anticipate keeping this new car we are buying? How long do we have our whole family at home?) much easier, and much more real.

    I love looking at how old my high school classmates look on Facebook. But I don’t look that old. I’m sure of it. :-)

  35. Never really thought about it, but after reading this post I realized I never look at myself in the mirror anymore either. When I was younger I would preen for hours.

  36. I often encourage my kids to do what their 80 year old self would do when making ‘Big’ decisions. I do the same with myself….I’m so wise at 80 : )

  37. I was JUST thinking about the exact same thing. I’ve been really reflecting on what I had thought I would do with my life, and what I am doing. Maybe since I’m almost 40? One thing I did realize, though, goes along with what Tricia said in the comments above. The amount of time we spend looking at ourselves in the mirror in high school and college might imprint a mental image of ourselves. As we get busy and more confident post-college, we just don’t spend the kind of time and effort looking at our reflections, and so it is always a little bit shocking how the signs of time show up on our faces. It’s probably inevitable to be surprised by how our faces and bodies change. My husband’s 90 year old grandmother said the other say, “You know, every time I look in the mirror I just think, ‘Who is that old lady?’ I still feel like I’m much younger on the inside!”

  38. What an interesting question! When I was a child, I remember thinking of myself as a “grown-up” which didn’t have a specific age attached to it, but wouldn’t have been older than twenty-five.

    I’m about to turn 30 on Monday, and I’ve only just recently started imagining myself as a “grandmother” – it randomly popped into my head one day that I would let my grandkids call me Nana, which struck me as funny.

    I guess I don’t like to think of specifics, other than, “I wonder how I’ll feel when I turn ___?”

  39. I think of myself as 60, 75, 85 a fair amount, come to think of it! But it’s easier to think of myself about 10-15 years older since that feels more tangible and I can better link the present to it. I’m not sure I ever thought much about being an older person, beyond just “being an adult” which was probably somewhere around my parents’ ages at the time. I remember one of my aunts marrying at 39 and we all thought she was SO OLD to be tying the knot. Sheesh.

    Like you, I don’t tend to look in the mirror except for my morning and evening routines and these days, I’m noticing more signs of aging… lines and creases and slight sags where there used to be none. My mother says when she looks in the mirror she almost doesn’t recognize who’s staring back at her because she doesn’t feel any older than 35. Sometimes I wonder if one of the answers to aging happily is to get rid of our mirrors!

  40. I often think of myself older: I picture my kids’ high school graduation parties, I imagine talking to them in our living room when they’re in high school, I fantasize about grown kids in their own beds for Christmas mornings in their twenties, I imagine having grown children and grandchildren in our town or across the country. I imagine how I’ll feel in these scenarios, almost letting myself practice. One day my living room was a disaster, full of Legos and ribbons and puzzle pieces and I looked at it as though I was in my sixties, my children were grown, and I got to have them be young in my house again for one day. It changed the whole afternoon, made it so precious and lovely.

    Once I read an article that said having needlepoint or knitting as a hobby helps you communicate with your high schoolers — you’re present, in the room with them, giving them your full mental attention, but your hands and eyes are just distracted enough to let them feel like they’re not being interrogated. So now my future self also makes needlepoint pillows.

  41. I’m thirty but almost always mistaken for much younger. Three days ago a new receptionist at my kids’ elementary school thought I was an elementary school student! It will be a definite change for me when I start looking my age.

  42. I’ve thought quite a bit about my future self, mostly what I’ll be doing when I’m retired. I’m 29, ha! I’ve always expected myself as a wife (check), and mother (check), and I think when I retired I’ll take up growing orchids in my greenhouse and caring for a salt water fish tank. Active, healthy, happy is what I’m going for.

  43. I am not sure if this makes sense, but I think I pictured certain things in my life: job, kids, husband, but I don’t think I pictured “my life” per se…if that makes sense…sometimes I do feel my life is more open to detours because I never had a grand plan or vision….maybe I should get one for the future, but sometimes I fear it might limit the wonderful unexpecteds.

  44. I’m 69.

    I didn’t “picture” my future self but I planned. I made a little list of how old I would be when I had each child–I wanted babies–and we stuck surprisingly close to the list.

    But it seemed unwise to plan on too much of life. One had to move where the jobs were, accommodate one’s spouse, be prepared for health issues, etc. I mean, so many things are beyond our control that it seemed like it would be tempting fate to have definite expectations–even about my appearance.

    But at a young age I knew–I knew–that we could keep on living in our later years. So today I still set goals and try things and learn and work–and I accept that I’ll be slower because, well, I’m 69. : )

  45. This is such an interesting topic for me to read, it’s fascinating how similar our experiences can be and yet how we are all surprised when they happen to us. How can something so universal be so surprising?

    My mom used to always tell me that she didn’t feel like a “grown up” and I would laugh. Because clearly she wa SUCH a grown up. Now we actually live in the house I grew up in (recently bought it from my parents) and have cars, kids, dogs, the whole nine yards. By any kid standards we are totally grown ups but I rarely feel it. I don’t look in the mirror much and realized lately that when I imagined my future kids as a teenager/twenty something I never imagined them being older than two or three. It’s making the school years feel like rocky and uncharted territory.

    One last thing – when I was a kid I also thought that dyeing grey hair was silly. That by the time you had any you were clearly old enough that you should accept aging gracefully. Now at 31 with lots of greys appearing I’m torn. I don’t want to let down my younger self but my vanity cannot stand those hairs. Getting older is so much different than it always seemed to be from the outside.

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  47. I just had a baby girl last year, and I’ve found I look in the mirror more than ever -with her! She LOVES to look in the mirror. And while sometimes I’m horrified by how I look – tired, older, no make-up, just woke up, etc. I then see her beautiful smile and none of that matters. She just giggles and I giggle and make faces, and now we love looking in the mirror together.

    And funny enough, this looking in the mirror with my daughter does relate to your future self comment – I also imagined a future self when I was young that I would someday be a mom, but I never knew what I would LOOK like as a mom. Now I see myself with my daughter and think – “I’m still me. Do I look like a mom now?”

  48. Ha!!……every day I look in the mirror and wonder who that old woman is!!?…..yes, I am quite a bit older than you are…..and sometimes I get scared as my mother seems to be looking back at me!…(:

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