A letter to my 9-year-old self — from 43-year-old me — & the power of dreams
Dear 9-year-old self,
My name is Audie Roldan & I am you, 34 years later. This may come as a surprise to you, but trust me when I say that you will live a beautiful life defined by love, luck, family, friends, and determination.
I am writing this letter to encourage you never to give up on your hopes and dreams. At 43 years old, I have seen your life unfold throughout the years. I am you, after all! Let me impart some of the lessons I’ve learned and give you a glimpse of your future:
Lesson 1: Never give up!
Even if it seems like things aren’t going your way at the moment, know that things will change. It always does.
I know how frustrating it can feel if you can’t always see the light at the end of the tunnel but trust me, it’s there. Sometimes it can be right around the corner. Even when it’s not, soldier on anyway!
Life is full of ups and downs & the journey won’t be easy, but it will be worth it, trust me!
Lesson 2: Embrace your challenges & don’t be afraid to fail
There’s no shame in failure; they will define who you are. Learn from your experience & your mistakes; it will make you stronger, smarter, and more compassionate. And on that note, never stop learning!
Lesson 3: Don’t forget where you came from & be happy with what you’ve got.
It will make you appreciate your blessings later in life & not take anything for granted.
Lesson 4: Don’t be jealous
Forget that kid with a new toy, that man with a nice car, or that family with a big house. Those material things won’t last. Your possessions won’t define you. You are lucky! You’ve already got it made even if it’s not yet obvious at age 9.
Lesson 5: Appreciate your family and loved ones; let them know you love them
Know that they have your best interest at heart, will work hard to make sure you achieve your dreams and will support you all through life through thick or thin.
Lesson 6: Appreciate all the friends, schoolmates, colleagues, bosses, & acquaintances that you will encounter throughout your life.
You will be surprised by how long great friendships can last, untethered by time & distance. Even folks you barely know, you will learn from.
Be kind to others & they will return the favor. You will be showered by great memories & a ton of laughs. Some will even open doors to fantastic opportunities. Don’t forget to say “Thanks!”
Lesson 7: Oh, & by the way, Santa is right: Just be good for goodness sake, even if nobody is looking.
Be a good human & steward of the planet. Do a good deed without expecting any reward or recognition. Your actions will speak louder than your words.
Respect people’s beliefs even if they don’t agree with you. Be kind even if they aren’t.
Now here’s the good part:
(are you ready?)
You will achieve most of your dreams!
You will end up living in America, go to Disneyland (many times over), touch real snow, & visit all the places you’ve only seen in the movies or read in books. You will have countless adventures!
It’s the year 1985 for you so let’s see…
That’s right. “Back to the Future” just came out!
Well, guess what? You will end up visiting the set of one of your favorite movies. Are you getting excited yet?
You will attend an American high school, just like in the “Breakfast Club” & every other teen high school movie you’ll see from now on.
The cheerleaders, the jocks, the nerds, the outcasts, the bullies, the inspiring teachers, they will all be there waiting for you.
You will be bullied, but don’t let them get to your spirit. Your heart will be broken and you will unintentionally break some people’s hearts, just don’t forget to say “I’m sorry” & make it right.
I know what you’re thinking: How could you possibly make it in this new land? You will be a foreigner, the new kid on the block. It sounds very intimidating & overwhelming, especially for a young kid such as yourself.
Would people accept you for who you are? Will you end up lonely — an outcast?
I’m here to tell you that you will be welcomed with open arms.
Look at all these wonderful people that you will meet along the way, all of whom will give you lasting memories that you will cherish forever:
You end up playing in a band; several ones, in fact. Can you believe that? You don’t even know how to play the guitar and piano yet. Don’t worry, you will.
I know you love drawing & painting, tinkering with gadgets, and marvel at technological innovations of your time.
Well, guess what? You will eventually find the job you’ve dreamed of, working as a Designer for several tech companies in Silicon Valley — the world’s tech Mecca — & beyond. Yes, that same Silicon Valley they mentioned in the first episode of Knight Rider that you love to watch!
The best part of it is that you will make amazing friends along the way.
You will buy your own car (sorry, not a Lamborghini) and live in your dream home & city(s).
You will meet the girl of your dreams. Her name is Cheryl Rampton Roldan & you will end up marrying her. In turn, she will love you in sickness & in health.
You will have 2 wonderful boys that will redefine love as you know it. You will adore them, believe me!
You will enjoy teaching them things you’ve learned throughout life & they will show you how truly magical childhood can be through their eyes.
You will even fly the Millenium Falcon with them. I am serious! You will! In Disneyland.
You will be tired though so don’t fight naptime!
SLEEP. AS. MUCH. AS. YOU. CAN. NOW!
Now for the bad news:
It’s 2019 & sadly we still don’t have real flying/anti-gravity cars or a hoverboard, but we’re getting closer.
We landed robots on Mars. We also have self-driving cars, robotic drones, & a phone/computer in our pockets that are smaller & faster than anything you’ve seen. All the people in the world can communicate with each other instantly, for better or worse. We call it the “internet” & “social media.” We take lots of pictures of our food and faces. We have gadgets straight from science fiction & the movies. You will be in awe!
Things will get worse
I’ve also seen the future. A year from now, in the year 2020, a great global pandemic will sweep the entire planet, the likes of which have not been seen in over 100 years.
This virus will slowly make its way from country to country, leaving more and more people sick and dead in its wake, until it makes it all the way into your backyard.
It will be a scary and surreal time. The world will be at war, not against each other but against a tiny and invisible but deadly foe. For the first time in modern history, the entire world will collectively come to a halt, eventually locking down to protect itself. Major cities will be quiet and empty, major attractions deserted, people will be quarantined in their homes, loved ones dying alone in hospital beds, kids won’t be able to attend school the normal way, and so much more. Life as we know it will change in a matter of months.
It will bring out the best in us. Doctors, nurses, healthcare workers, grocery workers, delivery folks, first responders, people in the frontlines, teachers, essential workers. They will become the new heroes, facing their duties despite the risks.
It will also bring out the worst in us. Neighbors fighting against neighbors, friends & family against each other. Mistrust and division will continue to grow. We will fight over everything including facemasks. And in the middle of it all, civil unrest will brew. When the time came to truly come together, we didn’t. Shame on us!
Needless to say, kid, you will live through a part of history that future generations will be talking about for centuries.
Not all is lost, however. Through these dark times, we will learn to value our friends and loved ones as a result of isolation. We will pause to reflect and realize that we miss all the little things that we used to take for granted. We will have a new sense of appreciation for things we hold dear. May we continue to do so and in turn create a better future.
Now back to 2019
Most importantly, particularly for yourself, you will face one of your greatest fears at age 43 & face your own mortality by getting diagnosed with cancer. I know it’s such a scary word, but don’t fret. You will be reminded that we don’t have forever. Tomorrow is never promised, but this reminder will make you appreciate life & the people that surround you even more.
I have way more things to tell you but goodbye for now. I will leave you with this:
Live & love life to the fullest, never take anything or anyone for granted, be compassionate, and never give up! EVER!
That dream that you wish will come true!
Your older self,