Apologies to my future (invincible) self
I am a liar. But not the way you might think. I lie to myself, to my future self. All. The. Time.
Let me explain. Here is how my mornings usually start: the alarm blares at 5:00am, I stumble into the kitchen, make coffee, work on my book and then go for a run. You may tell yourself that this is because I am a super peppy morning person and I just love getting up at 5:00am. But that would be a lie, and I'm about to write about why lying to yourself is trouble, so stop it.
I get up at 5:00am because the night before, Present Me knows that I am a better person when I get to write and run first thing. And now, at 5:00am, Future Me is paying the price for that decision. (It's been solidly established that Future Rachel pays the price for a lot of questionable decisions.)
For example, instead of lying in bed arguing with myself (“Get up!” “No, I don’t want to.” “Yes you do, you’ll be mad if you don’t run.” “But I’m so tired!”) I’ve realized that I just have to promise myself that I will get to nap later. Somehow, knowing that Future Me can nap later in the afternoon makes it a lot easier for Present Me to get up.
But I never get to nap later.
Future Rachel, you see, is quite gullible. She believes me when I say she’ll fold the laundry later, or that she will actually accomplish everything on that to-do list. She believes me when I say that she will never (ever) yell at the kids again, that she will stop drinking weekday wine, and that this Friday is the Friday that she really will deep clean the whole house. (Future Rachel also gets a raw deal a lot of the time. She pays the price the next day when I decide that cheese is a great idea. She also gets stuck paying bills and getting the car's oil changed and all those other tedious things I keep leaving for her. Sorry, Future Rachel. That tax bill is all yours on June 1st.)
But because I love goals and challenges, and because I believe that Future Me can handle anything, I often get her into trouble. I can tell myself, for example, that Future Rachel will "have fun" on a 30k trail run at 7am on a Saturday. For Future Rachel, qualifying for Boston is a “done deal”, an Ironman will be “no problem”, and having babies while doing a PhD seems "totally manageable". Future Rachel also believes me when I say that having four kids is a great idea, even though Present Me can barely handle the two that I have. But I assure her that Future Rachel will be different and will handle it beautifully. (Is Future Rachel an idiot?!)
But I also love Future Rachel, because she is tough as nails. I trust her to handle the unknowns. I trusted her to handle whatever happened with cancer down the road. She did. And she will.
Deep into that “fun” 30k trail run, my friends and I begin to get a little silly at about the 25k mark. I don’t think any of us were consuming enough calories per hour, our brains undoubtedly glucose-deprived. They start talking about a 25k trail race that was coming up, and how maybe doing the 50k would be an even better challenge. (Did someone say challenge? Totally! Future Rachel would love that!) The fact that we could even discuss doing a 50k trail race when we had already been running hills for two and a half hours just proves how delusional we were—all of us blatantly and unapologetically lying to our future selves.
Friend A declares to Friend B: “You can wear a shirt that says ‘It seemed like a good idea’, and then I’ll wear a shirt with an arrow that says ‘She told me to.’”
All of us erupt in giggles—but these are hysterical, exhausted, mouths-caked-with-salt giggles. Our actual situation matters little right now. We are, after all, talking about our Future Selves, who clearly can do anything. Friend A continues: “And then Rachel can wear a shirt that says ‘I’m with stupids’ and it will point to both of us!”
More crazy-dehydrated-exhausted laughter. Friend A trips and falls. (Don't mock. It’s really hard to laugh and run trails at the same time.) We gasp, help her up, and then laugh some more. She falls again. We are fully delirious now, so much so that this 50k trail race becomes a better idea with every step. Our Future Selves are amazing. Friend A brushes herself off and limps on, reminding me that this stupid 30k run was in fact my idea. (I blame Past Rachel. She lies.) Then we laugh about how great the race will be. I love this idea because I know that Future Rachel is invincible and she can do anything.
Plus, I told her she could have a nap after.
*While I did not sign up for that 50k trail race, I did commit Future Rachel to the NYC marathon in November to raise funds for Imerman Angels. This amazing organization believes that no one should face cancer alone and provides free mentors to those going through treatment. I also told Future Rachel that raising $3,000 for this incredible organization would be no problem. Please don’t make me a liar. Click here to donate.