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Writing a Letter to Your Future Self: Love Who You’ll Become

Time

Tension is who you think you should be.  Relaxation is who you are.” ~Chinese Proverb

Yes, I had reached the age of 25. Still, I doubted this letter from my past would make it to me, all these years later. It was a simple creative writing assignment from when I was 15.

The teacher collected our letters to our future ourselves in self-addressed envelopes with stamps and promised to mail them 10 years later. But, so much time had passed; would he keep his word? Would he even remember?

Thinking back on the letter, I tried to remember writing it. I vaguely recalled giving my future self some advice.

In my recollection, my 15-year-old self wanted to make sure I would continue to write and figure skate, and she probably assumed I’d be married and have a baby by now.

When you’re 15 years old, 25 seems like a grown-up age, but I wasn’t feeling as grown up as I believed my younger self expected me to be.

Then, on a family vacation in San Diego, my parents brought me the mail from home. And in scrawled ink, there was a letter addressed to myself. I knew it was the one! I laughed delightedly and could not believe what was in my hands. I opened it eagerly and was astounded by the results.

The letter began in true, snarky fifteen-year-old fashion: “How much do you bet that this letter will never get to you?”

It continued to greet me casually as if we were having an IM chat.

Here are two key nuggets from the essence of the letter, which I found salient and beautiful:

1. The Desire for Balance

My 15-year-old self was so stressed! As an almost junior in high school, facing the SATS and demanding Honors and AP courses, as well as college applications—and of course, the daily antics involved in peer interactions and being a teen—I was apparently not quite happy.

Thus, much of my letter to myself was fraught with advice and hopes that I wouldn’t stress and worry so much in the future, and that I wouldn’t forget to be present and enjoy my life! It was so wise and sweet.

2. Self- Acceptance

Contrary to my belief, my 15-year-old self did not have any demands of me, or false expectations or goals that I might have failed to meet.

Instead, she wrote “…So I guess I’ll stand by whatever you do, because even if you are not who I imagine now, I’ll support you, because maybe who I’m imagining is someone else, and you are—well you’re not someone else, you’re me.”

I was blown away, and tears welled up in my eyes at this self-acceptance through time. I immediately wrote a heart-felt thank-you letter to my high school teacher and sent it in the mail.

Then, I wrote a thoughtful letter to my 35-year-old self and tucked it away for the next 10 years.

In this new letter, I paid the self-acceptance forward even further. I am a big goal-setter, and like many I know, I put a lot of pressure on myself to be the best and biggest version of myself that I can be.

However, I now knew that what I would have accomplished and what I would have done in 10 years time would pale in comparison to how I’d feel and who I’d be.

For me, the biggest lesson in receiving the letter was the idea of “allowing”—allowing myself to be whoever I am, allowing myself to relinquish my plans for who I “should become,” allowing myself to simply “show up,” and for that to be enough, more than enough.

In what ways can you create a time capsule for yourself?

I recommend experimenting with envisioning your future life, accepting and forgiving your past selves and forms, and writing to yourself at a specific age in the future (5 or 10 years, for example.) There’s a site that helps with this called FutureMe.org.

As you write, consider these questions:

  • What hopes do you hold for yourself in the future?
  • What fears and obstacles do you currently face that you wish to overcome?
  • What internal resources do you inherently possess that will help you, now and always?
  • What goals do you have that you aspire to? Tip: Commit to the vision, but be flexible to the form.
  • What is the ultimate and underlying reason why these goals matter to you? (i.e.: I want to be a public speaker. Why? Because I want to share my knowledge openly!
  • What faith do you hold in your own strengths?
  • How will you remember what you have to offer, and how will you continue to know yourself and your presence as a contribution to this world?
  • How would you react if you met your future self? How would you interact? Create a sample dialogue—see where it goes!
  • And finally: What are ways that you can seek to love your future self no matter how much the future varies from what you expect it would be?

Time travel is possible, and we can indeed learn a lot by removing ourselves from the chronological march of time, and see ourselves as an infinite but evolving whole. Happy travels!

Photo by M Car

Avatar of Jeanine Cerundolo

About Jeanine Cerundolo

Jeanine is a workshop facilitator, personal development coach, writer/poet, and Kripalu yoga instructor who lives in New York City. With former experience in social work and education, she  believes that much lasting change in our world begins from the inside out. She blogs at ZestforTheQuest.com. You can reach her at JeanineNicole(AT)ZestfortheQuest(DOT)com or on Twitter @ZestfortheQuest and learn more at www.jeaninecerundolo.com.

Announcement: Wish you could change your past? Learn to let go and create a life you love with the Tiny Buddha course!
  • Dochy

    This is SOOO cute! I instantly fell in love with the idea and am gonna try writing a nice long letter to myself! You know, you’ve been such a sane and smart girl at 15, to accept a future you, however different you may be! I’m so proud of you! :D

  • Shruti

    Beautiful post… My eyes filled up with tears after reading the self acceptance piece. Thanks for sharing!

  • Shakthi

    That is an amazing post!! I am going to write a letter to my 30 year old self !

  • http://www.facebook.com/AdiaEng Amy Eng

    I love this!

  • friend forever

    Jeanine,

    I always love reading your posts! This one is sooooo nice and so thoughtful at the same time. And, its a wonderful idea- writing a letter to your future self. When one looks back, one can say how much we have changed, how our beliefs, values, priorities, and due to it, we, as a whole have changed. It’s a very beautiful xercise and I am very excited to try it!

  • GingerNinja

    A wonderful read mid-CV writing!

  • TB at BlueCollarWorkman.com

    Lol, crazy. If I got that letter in the mail, it would be crazy. 10 years ago I had already dropped out of highschool, gotten a girl pregnant, couldn’t get a job… I wonder what the heck I would say to myself today. I’d probably say that if I was doing a better job at life AT ALL WHATSOEVER that I should be proud, lol. I think it might be neat for me to have my daughters write themselves these letters right now.

  • Random

    http://www.futureme.org

    Write to yourself now and have it emailed to your future self to be read anywhere from 6 months to 100 years.

  • Cocoa

    I JUST did this! Then got this email. I just finished it. It was more a letter of what I’d like to see happen in the future, but same idea.

  • Jeanine Nicole

    Thank you so much!! I hope you enjoy writing your letter as much as I enjoyed receiving mine years later :)

  • Jeanine Nicole

    I’m glad it touched you Shruti, may you have a beautiful day!

  • Jeanine Nicole

    Thanks for reading, friend! :) Would love to connect on twitter or facebook via Zestforthequest for more where that came from :) It’s true, so much changes through the years, and yet so much of our essence continues to shine through! What a beautiful thing…

  • http://www.madlabpost.com/ Nicole/TheMadlabPost

    You had one of the best teachers in the world! He is a man who keeps his word, which is a valuable lesson in and of itself; and this is a teacher whose contribution to the world comes from his ability to extend the lessons beyond high school graduation, helping to enrich the lives of his students not only while they’re in the classroom but also in the future.

    I especially like your “Commit to the vision, but be flexible to the form” suggestion. I’m not saying I’ll be able to practice it…with ease, anyway, lol, but it’s a good takeaway nonetheless.

  • http://www.joyattheheart.com/ Melissa

    They had an art project at Burning Man four or five years ago where you wrote a letter to yourself and dropped it in the mailbox and they mailed it to you 2 years later. At the time I wrote it, I was in a shitty relationship, and when I got the letter, I was still in the shitty relationship but it was basically over. I wasn’t impressed with the amount of progress I had made, but it did remind me that the relationship had been shitty that whole time, so any doubts about ending it were, well, semi-quashed :)

  • Jeanine Nicole

    Yes, Nicole. He was an amazing teacher, and Creative Writing with him was my favorite HS class. I learned recently that he passed away and I was very sad to hear this news. I am glad I could share some of his legacy of teaching what counts…

  • http://www.madlabpost.com/ Nicole/TheMadlabPost

    Jeanine, I’m sorry to learn he passed away…his family may find comfort in knowing that his legacy is even greater than one could know, living on through his students’ images of their current and future selves.

  • Kathy – www.yinyangmother.com

    What a great gift your teenage self (and your teacher) gave you adult self. I’m 44 now, so maybe a bit old to see a big leap in perspective, but I think I might try something like a contract with myself for when I turn 50.

  • Maybel

    Beautiful. Thank you!