An Open Letter To My Younger Self

After finding a letter written ten years earlier to the 'Future-Me,' Heather Jones pens another message in an attempt to impart some wisdom to her childhood self.

When I was ten years old, I wrote a letter to my future self. I talked about what I was like, what my aspirations were, my likes and dislikes, typical ten-year-old things. I ended the letter with, “See you in ten years,” folded it up, taped it to the back of the binder of loose leaf paper I carried everywhere like a security blanket for my thoughts, and promptly forgot about it. I didn’t think of the letter again until I was getting ready for university, and found it while sorting through my things. It was just shy of ten years later. Because I had no recollection of even writing the letter, it literally felt like time travel. It was as if my childhood-self was speaking directly to my future self and it was incredibly cool.

Being only nineteen at the time, I was still just beginning. Now, as I head into middle age, I have started thinking about what I would write if I could somehow send a letter in reverse. What wisdom would I impart to my childhood self? I will leave it here until technology catches up to nostalgic whimsy.

Dear Young Me,

I know that sometimes you feel like things are really tough. It can feel like you are facing insurmountable pressure. I want you to know that you are okay and that all of the things that seem so big now are conquerable. They are speed bumps, not mountains, and you get over them. As you get older, the hills get steeper, but your legs get stronger. You will be thankful for the workout you are getting now.

Be monumentally grateful for your parents. You are thankful for them now, you truly appreciate them, but you will really discover how lucky you are to have them once you are an adult and you realize that you never stop needing them. You will be even more grateful when you realize they will never stop being there when you do.

Grades are important, and you should be proud of your academic achievements, but the lessons you learned outside of class will be what form you as a person. Learn how to learn, and focus on being a good person more than a perfect scholar. Have more fun, put yourself out there more, and realize you are more than the letter at the top of your page.

You are not being judged nearly as much as you think you are. Fear of not being accepted is keeping you from doing so much you wish you had the courage to do. Take the chance, all eyes are not on you. When you are an adult, you will reconnect with all these people you thought were looking down on you, and they will have no idea where you got that impression. They valued you then, and they value you now. You are valuable.

You will marry a man who is the exact opposite of who you always pictured, and you will be glad you did. You will have children who are nothing like you always pictured, and you will be glad for that too. Stop spending so much time imaging what your life should be, and look around at how beautiful your life is. It will all come together.

You will never really feel like an adult. You keep waiting for it to happen, but it never does. Your parents were adults at this age. Your friends are adults. You are not yet an adult, but maybe next year.

Learn to fail. You don’t do failure right now. You only participate in things at which you know you will excel. As you get older, your freedom to take this approach fades away, and you will fail. A lot. You will fail at failing. Learn how to fail now when the stakes are much lower. Failing doesn’t take away from your value, it adds to your character.

Coffee right now is cool, and you feel very grown up when you drink it. Relish that feeling. In twenty years, coffee will become as necessary to you as food and water. Savour drinking coffee for the enjoyment of it before it becomes your life preserver.

It is hard right now to recognize a real friend. You don’t feel worthy of them, so you assume anyone being friendly to you is disingenuous. In time you will realize that people spend time with you because they want to not because they have to. Though they will have moved all around the globe, you will still be close friends with people who you included in that letter at ten years old. You will have people in your life you trust with your heart and soul, and you will finally feel included. You will realize you always were included. Let them in, they want to be there.

Most importantly, don’t be so hard on yourself. You’re doing better than you think and you’re going to be okay.



Childhood-Me may never get to read that, but Grown-Up-Me sure needed that reminder.


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