When I was a freshman in high-school, the first week, we were required to write a letter to our future selves. In the letter we were asked to explore any insecurities we had, concerns, fears, what we thought we would be like upon graduation and what we wanted to be in 4 years. The letter was then placed into a sealed envelope and collected by our counselors. We were told that we would receive the letters the week of senior graduation. Like most tormented, crazy, overly emotional, impulsive, irrational teenager my letter contained a lot of depressing things. Mainly how I felt about myself, how I felt about highschool and so on. When I wrote about what I wanted to be like 4 years later, I wrote about things that mattered to me at that time period. Physical appearance. Boyfriends. Shallow friendships, popularity, etc. That is what I had wanted.
By the time I became a senior, I had experienced all of those things. I had lost the puberty weight that plagued me(but I’ve gained it back now LOL). I had PLENTY of shallow friendships–many which left me hurt, betrayed, angry, etc. I went through a phase of hanging out with a few of the most popular girls within the clique that I had longed to be a part of. And I had 2 boyfriends. So when I opened that envelope and pulled out that letter–at 18–those things no longer mattered, or at least not as much a they as mattered when I wrote that letter. Not to say that certain things weren’t still bothering me, but for the most part those issues at 14 were silly to me at 18. When I read the letter I wrote, I felt sorry for my “past” self. I couldn’t believe how low my esteem was, how depressed I sounded, how completely pathetic I was. Especially being that at 18 my life was so vastly different then the way it was at 14.
At 18 I was getting ready for college, I was in a long-term relationship, I had made two of my closest friends ever, and I had finally rebelled against a family that at times had made me feel like a black sheep. I looked beautiful. I was confident–cocky even. There were many great things that I had accomplished, many not-so-great things that I had done in highschool, and many great things to come as I was entering college. That letter showed me that problems are truly temporary. That change is constant. And that I had grown as an individual and as a young woman.
I appreciated the exercise. And thinking about the letter, has really influenced me to continue writing these letters every four years. It’s a great way to track accomplished milestones, to see how I’ve changed, to see how my problems are truly temporary, and the most important–having solid evidence that I HAVE changed.
How many people feel as though these letters–as horrifying as they are to read years later–are truly a great way to measure self-improvement, growth, and change?