thinking of 42 at 32
unexpected birthday musings
I told my therapist that I’ve been having trouble committing to anything in the future because I don’t entirely believe the future is happening.
I turn 32 on Saturday, May 21 (that’s today!) and I’ve been having ~feelings~ about it. Most of the people in my in-person inner circle are exactly my age or younger (something that hasn’t always been the case) and I’m craving a peek into the life of someone a step or two ahead of me, just to know it’s real.
Even before learning about manifestation, I’ve always been in tune with visualization. If I could envision myself making the trek up the hill to my 8 AM Rhet Comp class in my first year of college, I’d get up and go. But if I couldn’t imagine myself actually sitting in the class, I didn’t go.
I rely on visualization for most of my decisions in life because it’s always been there for me (no matter how similar to the angel and devil on my shoulders). However, as of late, I’m keenly aware that I lack the context to visualize what’s next for me.
So how did my therapist respond to me telling her I wasn’t sure the future was going to happen? With a guided meditation to go meet my Future Self. Not the kind with a beam of light or a log cabin. Just me, walking up to me. Observing and receiving a message.
Surprisingly, the message from my Future Self came through loud and clear: follow the path that keeps you present in yourself and your community. Not only did I immediately hear resonate with the message, but it offered exactly the validation I was seeking.
What didn’t come through in the mediation, however, was any visualization of myself. I got some clues about my lifestyle and perhaps my work, but I didn’t gain any clarity on what *I* — my Future Self — looks like.
So my therapist and I decided on a pre-birthday assignment — a vision board — to help ground me in some hopefulness and tangibility about my Future Self.
How to Make a Vision Board for Your Future Self:
(I obviously write this as an expert, having just done it for myself…yesterday.)
Step 1: Google actors in the age group you’re vision boarding for. Feel genuine shock when you find out that Jennifer Garner is 49!
Step 2: Choose a few age-appropriate celebrities whose look or vibe you resonate with. If you’re POC or LGBTQ+, express disappointment in the lack of representation of your identity among folks in that age group. (Editor’s note: Where are the quirky lesbians in their 40s! Guess I’ll settle for Natasha Lyonne, who decidedly counts.)
Step 3: Head to Pinterest and search the following
“celebrity name + now”
“celebrity name + 2022”
“celebrity name + outfits”
“celebrity name + hair”
Collect images that resonate with you, especially in terms of style and general aesthetic.
Step 4: Position your laptop at an angle and squint as you try to imagine your face on theirs. Think about the laugh lines you expect to have at that age, despite this celebrity not having any because of Botox, and wonder at what age normal people start to get them.
Step 5: To fill in the blanks, seek out other inspiration that feels in alignment with who your Future Self may be. What do the places you spend your time look like? Your home, your office, your vacays (because we’re manifesting vacations, bestie!).
Step 6: Let’s get into the head of your Future Self. It’s unrealistic to think that our Future Self has it all figured out, but you can definitely hope that the challenges your Current Self is facing have been resolved. So what kind of affirmations is your Future Self seeking? Search “affirmations” and pin a few to let the algorithm know a little about what’s on your heart (in the future anyway) and let Pinterest guide you to the validation you can offer your Future Self from your Current Self.
Step 7: Review your vision board and see what you’ve learned about your Future Self. Know that you can’t answer all your Current Self’s questions right now, but find peace in knowing there’s a lot to look forward to.
Before I show you some favorite images from my own Future Self vision board, I want to offer a piece of advice from my former therapist that I think about almost daily:
You get to have more than one dream.
I was one of those people who had it (almost) all figured out at 24 and by 28 realized I didn’t want that anymore. It didn’t mean what I had was bad, but it wasn’t serving me anymore. I’ve spent the last four years chasing the same high I felt as a mid-twentysomething with all the momentum and moxie and excitement. Something about saying goodbye to my first dream has caused me to really doubt myself. Even though I have the evidence that I can succeed, I worry that I’ve already used up all my good fortune on a dream I had when I was 20.
But I look at my vision board and I think about my Future Self and I see that I’m just getting started and there are dreams I haven’t even thought of yet that are going to be so fun to bring to life. I look at my Current Self and see, really, how much I’ve made happen for me — despite a global pandemonium and not feeling 1000% sold that I haven’t scammed my way into the sincerely wonderful life I have. With a wonderful community. And a beautiful home to keep me safe. And the love of my life. And the best skin I’ve ever had.
With that, I give you some highlights from Nic at 40, my own personal Future Self vision board.
Thanks for hanging out for some JELLY TOAST and I’ll see you next time!
Follow me on IG @nic.taliaferro for more or to let me know what you thought of this issue!
With love from Austin,