Dear Me, Get It Together: The Benefits Of Writing Letters To Yourself

Upon entering my first day of senior year, I expected to be bombarded with feelings of nostalgia as I inhaled the smell of teenage angst and linoleum for the last “first” time or at the very least a sense of melancholy reflection at the sight of the hallways teeming with freshmen half my size with backpacks twice as large. However, to my surprise, I didn’t feel any of these emotions; in fact, I didn’t feel anything at all.

It wasn’t until I stepped foot into my English class that I was suddenly inundated with the overwhelming idea of the ominous future that most seniors, like myself, have mixed feelings about. In one sense, I was excited for what the future had in store and in another, absolutely terrified. My English teacher posed an assignment to the class in light of this shared feeling of anxiousness to write a letter to ourselves to read on graduation. Although this sounded dreadfully cheesy to “too-cool-for-school” first-day-of-senior-year-me, I obliged for the sake of my grade and began writing the letter which I expected to be a compilation of utter garbage messily thrown together to emulate something worthy of an A.

However, once I began writing, the idea of a dark, stormy future into which I could not see became slightly more exciting than nerve wracking. Writing a letter to my future self was cathartic in nature, easing my of the abundant stress of imminent college application deadlines and fees that loomed over my head. Therefore, my advice to those facing stresses they express little control over: write to yourself. It may help more than you think.

In my letter, I highlighted my goals for the future and what I would hope to accomplish by the time I’m reading it. Although I didn’t want to delve too in detail with my goals for college as to not depress my future self, outlining my aspirations for the future made them seem slightly more attainable than before by giving them a sense of reality and myself a sense of accountability (come on, I owed it to future me to live up to the high hopes of my letter).

Along with this, due to the uncertainty of the future, I also reminded myself of the positivity around me and a few of the happy, but easily forgettable, happy moments I had recently experienced that I was bound to forget later in the future because of my unfortunate tendency to focus on the negative. As I was sitting in my favorite class whilst aimlessly scribbling at my letter, I was surrounded by some of my favorite people and was able to jot down a few key highlights of my day to remind future me of the good in life, despite where I may be at graduation.

I also dished out some real advice to my future self that I hope I have the sense to take nine months from now. As a frequent advice giver and seldom a taker of said advice, one of my goals for the future is to actually start listening to myself and making decisions based on what I would advise other people. It is my hope that I will be wiser along with older by the time I read this next, so maybe I will have learned that sometimes, just sometimes, I actually know what I’m talking about.

Though writing letters to yourself is not an exact science, the process proved to be very therapeutic, at least for me. In the spirit of giving and taking advice, writing letters to yourself is one way to actualize your goals and provide your current self with some peace about the vague and uncertain future, while also comforting and uplifting your future self. Only time will tell how I actually fulfill my promises to myself, but I guess that’s what graduation is for.

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