What can we learn from our sent folders?
The other day I took what is known – to myself only, perhaps – as a Hotmail deepdive.
A Hotmail deepdive is when you search random words in your cobweb-collecting Hotmail sent folder and read old emails you’ve likely forgotten about. It’s a highly revealing journey into the inner workings of your 16-year-old psyche. All of the insecurities you had and unnecessary abbreviations you used come back in blissfully uncomfortable waves. Sometimes – if you’re lucky – Greenday’s “Good Riddance (Time of your life)” will waft through your consciousness in a manner that can only be described as annoyingly nostalgic.
Miranda July, who I’ll admit is someone I know only by her reputed brilliance as an artist/author/playwright/filmmaker/overall cool, empowered woman, and not through actually reading/viewing most of her stuff (sue me!), started a project about a year ago called We Think Alone. She asked a group of interesting people to share old, personal emails they had sent on a variety of subjects. You could subscribe to have these emails sent to you on a weekly basis. I always enjoyed reading them.
I decided to embark on a similar odyssey in hopes of unearthing wisdom from my past self to aid my present self. I needed to get a sense of how much I’d grown (and hadn’t grown) since 2008. I needed an understanding of who I was and ultimately how that led to who I am now. And also, most importantly perhaps, I really just needed a new way to procrastinate.
Here, in all of its just-slightly-post-pubescent glory, are my 10 best sent folder findings. It’s a carefully curated collection of bits and pieces of my past self in various stages of development. Enjoy.
Just some solid life advice – part 1
Subject line: Re: read the other one first.
Date: Monday, August 11, 2008
And yes, i should hope that this will be our year.. we’ve ben saying that for what? four years now.. and hunny, we’re gonna keep saying it til the day we die. but in a good way, ye know? in a positive way. Let’s make this year amazing. And every year for the rest of our lives!
Just some solid life advice – part 2
Subject line: the other one
Date: August 13, 2008
And your life does not suck. I thought mine did to. Every time I think that I put my life in to the form of a movie trailer and suddenly I feel better. Like for example, “When she thought it was the end, it was only the beginning of a new adventure.” And then I picture myself on a meaningful bike ride to a good song.. through life. hahaha… you should try it it seriously works.”
Probably a good call
Subject line: Re: life
July 16, 2008
I wrote you a really emotional letter yesteday about how I have n o one to talk to but I decided not to send it becuase it wil perhaps put a damper on our holiday..
Didn’t even say please – an email to my singing teacher part 1
Subject line: theory
Date: December 12, 2007
question about chords: do you have to know the key signature in order to get the proper interval????
An entire school project dedicated to the miniskirt
Subject line: (no subject)
Date: January 7, 2008
-What made the mini really acceptable was the introduction of pantyhose known mostly today as tights
Yes, too cheesy
Subject line: council toolkit
Date: May 2, 2008
What about the “chilli” as a possible topic?
It has potential… oohh it could be like a metaphor about the Council, how like when great yet very different minds come together (such as ingredients in a chilli), amazing things happen and the response is awesome(the chilli as a whole was a a hit!).
No? Too cheesy?
Glad this self-imposed nickname didn’t stick….
Subject line: re: to my valentines
But, i really should go and do some real work.
Warning: Spoiled brat alert!!!
Subject line: please consider the following
Now, to come to the issue of myself attened a camp reunion cheduled for the same time as the family weekend (especially since my march break, as bebeneficial as it may be, will be spent almost entirely in a classroom) I would like to come to a comprosmise. As a seveteen-year-old, it is a Norm to spend a little less time with my family as I am in a period of self- discovery and the shift in to women. This is the tradition, and with that considered, I really do spend alot of time with my family. I also value their company a great deal and enjoy our dinners togetehr. Kaileifgh and my slef also probably spend atleast twice as much time with our families as our friends becuase of this. Hower, I don’t really see any point in FORCING a family weekend upon us, without compromising our surrent plans and atleast telling us first. I want to go, but perhaps for not the entire weekend seeing as I need to see my best friends, especially as we will be separted this summer. So here is a proposal which we can discuss later: I get to spend firday and saturday morning with my girls, and we can head up t the cttage either that afternoon, or that evening. Please think about this amd feel free to forward this Email to dad.
[note: mom’s response ended with “lovely email”. Well played, mom. Well played!!]
Classic teenage Sarah move: An email to my singing teacher part 2
Subject line: tapes
Ok, so, at this point I still haven’t found my cds and believe me when I say I’ve looked absolutely everyhwere….seriously. I didn’t take them anywhere other than home after my lesson on wednesday and just had them in the car. Because of this, I was wondering if there was any way I could record the needed songs for kiwanis on a cassette tape in the mean time maybe sometime this week. It wouldn’t be a lesson obviously, just me coming in to record the required songs and then leaving.
PLEASE get back to me, I’m freaking out. I’ve looked absolutely everywhere.
Very, Very, Very busy week: An email to my singing teacher part 3
Subject: RE: Hi Sarah
Date: Sat, 29 Mar 2008
Hello! I was wondering if tonight we could possibly end like 15 minutes early tonight becuase I feel like crap. I have that 24-hour flu that’s been going around and I’m just exhausted. Also, I don’t think I fully understand dominant, median, and tonic triads. Like, I think I know how to but I want to be sure. Also, I didn’t get to doing cadences becuase I never wrote down a page number, but I can do them by this wednesday (is there a lesson?). I know this is very last minute but today was the only day I could really focus on theory…very, very, very busy week. Seriously, though.
Please try and get back to me.
I will end this by saying in a slightly defensive manner that current Sarah would never send these types of emails. The nerve I had!! The typos! My complete and total lack of gratitude towards my singing teacher! It’s comforting to know that spelling, punctuation, and basic manners are much higher priorities for me now. Yay learning!
But I also wonder if perhaps a bit more nerve (with better intentions) would be useful to current Sarah. Was I more honest and candid with people back then? Are these qualities I’ve lost sight of in recent years?
Either way, the emotions and the experiences that inspired these emails are still so familiar. I’m still struggling with “very, very, very busy” weeks. I’m still envisioning my life as a movie as a way to make it more meaningful. I still have a deep and powerful love for my friends and family. I’m still this person. I mean, I did write these emails.
Bottom line: let’s own up and celebrate our sent folders. They’re imperfect. They’re likely embarrassing. If anything they provide documentation of how much we’ve moved forward (or in some cases, moved backward…). I’m fairly confident we can learn from them. Or at least find a good hour’s worth of entertainment.
Dive in, I dare you.