The Future Self Trap

Businesses know how to exploit this psychological human feature; don’t fall for it

Sophie Lucido Johnson


All illustrations are by the author, who is me, Sophie Lucido Johnson

I keep a running list of things I might someday like to write about, and mostly I don’t write about these things, because they aren’t good ideas.

On the top of a recent list of topics is “Haircut (you have to go through a part you hate to get to a part you like).” I was going to delete that altogether, because “haircut” didn’t go the way I thought it was going to go, and while I did go through a part I hated, and I did get to a part I liked, I didn’t walk the path I’d intended, so I can’t write what I’d imagined.

Here’s what I’d wanted to write:

I had bangs, and I grew them out, and I hated growing them out, but because I waited, I was able to get a chic, bang-less haircut. Now I look terribly chic and cool, and I have no bangs. This is extraordinary, because I am able to flaunt my forehead wrinkles, a thing I want to do as a political statement. On top of that, I look like a mean legacy art dealer who says things like, “If you don’t understand it, that’s entirely your problem, and get out of my gallery.”

The moral is, you have to wait. And if you wait, you, too, can scold little men who come into your art gallery that anything Hockney has breathed near is way out of their price range.

I had a vision of myself with a certain haircut, which would have required my hair to suddenly turn ice-white of its own volition. The thing about the forehead wrinkles was true, but growing out my bangs was horrible at every turn. I pinned them back with all kinds of barrettes and the barrettes were horrible. I French braided the bangs into the rest of my hair and little wisps flew out making me look like I’d been recently electrocuted. Bobby pins were painful and floppy, twists never lasted very long, and there wasn’t a hairspray or pomade that didn’t have sticky consequences. Maybe worse than my desperation to solve the styling problem was how convinced my friends were that they could advise me about it: “Oh, just pin it to the side! No big deal!” Smoke came out of my ears like I was a Looney Toon. YOU THINK I HAVEN’T TRIED EVERYTHING UNDER GOD’S BLUE HEAVEN? The smoke would say. (I have a cowlick, which infinitely didn’t help.)