Repairing The Future: Young people’s letters to their future selves

Anaïs Mateus

As part of the Repairing the Future interview series, BOZAR strives to open new perspectives for a future world by giving scientists, artists and thinkers from different fields, an opportunity to speak. In this context, we wanted to give a voice to younger generations, working with several participants in the Next Generation, Please! citizen project. The 16- to 21-year-olds from Brussels shared their vision for the future through letters they wrote to their future selves, 20, 30, or 40 years from now.

Anaïs Mateus, 19, has just graduated in visual arts from the Athénée d’Anderlecht school. Her interests include fashion and issues pertaining to diversity. She participated in the 2019-2020 edition of Next Generation, Please! as part of the ‘Home Sweet Home’ project.

50 years from now

Dear Anaïs,

I can’t really picture what you look like. I don’t think often enough about who you are or who I would like you to be. Today, I’ve finally given it some thought and am sitting down to write to you, my future self, so you can remember who I am. It will surely help you to be the best version of yourself. Knowing who we are and where we come from always helps us to determine where we’re headed and who we want to become. You and I are 50 years apart. You are me and I am you, but since time separates us, I’m sure we are very different. Time means evolution, change and growth. You know things about us and about the world that I do not.

Dear Anaïs, you are probably sixty-eight or sixty-nine in this letter. There are a few things I’d like to ask you, to wish for you and give you advice about. You have probably gone through much hardship by now. I’m sure you’ve had your share of victories and failures – they go hand in hand. I hope that you will continue to be a true fighter and not to give up when difficulties come your way, bravely to confront the things you fear and that are meant to slow you down. When I say “bravely confront”, I do not mean without feeling fear, but rather regardless of fear. I hope that 50 years from now, you will have overcome your irrational fear of failure and that you will have learned to enjoy and rejoice in small victories. They also count. They’re the ones that will help you achieve your “great victories”.

I hope that you will accomplish all the dreams I’m currently imagining. Like my dream of waking up every day to do what I love and am passionate about. Or my dream to travel the world. Or the one in which I bring about change in the fashion industry, an industry that I greatly admire but of which I do not totally approve. Continue down the right path on which you have embarked, regardless of what goes on around you. It’s not easy for me to imagine the world you live in. I sincerely hope that society as I know it has evolved positively. I hope that our society has realised that too many of its systems don’t work. I hope all that has changed, and that you helped to bring about such change (another one of my dreams). Don’t forget the values we were taught and that I try to keep alive in us. Values such as respect of self and others, loving thy neighbour as oneself, open-mindedness and patience. And, above all, loving God with all our mind and soul. You have a part to play. I’m counting on you and I believe in our capabilities!

This letter is meant to remind you of the young, energetic woman, full of dreams, joy and hope that I am and that you were. It is meant in particular for the difficult times and moments of doubt that the great woman that you’ve become will face. No matter the period in your life, I know that you will experience them. This letter will help you to withstand the ups and downs of life.

I imagine that, at the age of sixty-eight or sixty-nine, you are at a turning point in your life. I hope that you continue to do what you are passionate about. To end this letter, I would like to say that I’m happy about what we’ve gone through so far, what we’ve undertaken and will undertake in the future. As you’ve grown, I hope that you’ve maintained the essence of who you are.

See also