An illustration of leaves of different colors set to a pink background

“Letters to My Younger Self” is a series focused on wisdom and self-awareness. Just as you write letters to a friend to encourage and uplift them, here is the advice we would go back and tell our younger selves.

I used to write letters to my future self. I hid a shoebox under my bunk bed covered in Lisa Frank stickers and a note written in sparkly, gel pen on it reading, “Top-secret. For Hope’s eyes only.”

Those letters held questions about love, college, the unknown future, crushes, womanhood and what my first kiss would be like. I was always curious and anxious about what would come next. At a certain point, perhaps when extracurriculars took over, I stopped writing those letters that were full of hope and anticipation. I became disillusioned with time and felt life was happening to me without my permission.

I became disillusioned with time and felt life was happening to me without my permission.

Those letters have grown dust. I suppose a decade later it’s time to reply. This is a letter and list to you: the 13-year-old girl listening to “Fidelity” by Regina Spektor, sitting in your obnoxiously yellow room, daydreaming during summer break in the suburbs and thinking about what to wear on the first day of 7th grade. 

Dear younger self,

  1. The most important and timeless accessories will be your mind, a kind heart, free spirit and open hands.
  2. Authenticity outweighs popularity. Cultivate friendships over focusing on merely having friends.
  3. Your hand-me-down style and thrifted clothes will someday be considered cool and “in Vogue.”
  4. Pick flowers, not fights.
  5. Call your mother. Love your sister. Befriend your father. 
  6. There is beauty in diversity and having a family scattered around the earth. People will leave. No one is replaceable.
  7. Practice good posture. Your strength and courage will take you higher than any pair of heels. 
  8. You are more than the things you do or people you know. Your resumé and trophies will never speak for who you are. 
  9. You will fall in love someday. It won’t be what you thought but far better than you could have imagined.
  10. Prom is overrated. Play dress up whenever you want.
  11. Essential items to wear as make-up: a smile of joy as lipstick, light-filled eyes sparkling with wonder, rosy cheeks from dancing to your own song, kindness as a cover-up and grace as perfume.
  12. Tears are not a sign of weakness but proof of being real. 
  13. Your dreams will come true. The brokenness of the world may make them seem like a nightmare at times but reality is not your enemy. Eternity is on your side. Find an anchor and hold on tight to hope.
  14. I dare you to fail, fall, fly, dance and speak up.

I believe in you. I promise you there is beauty in the mundane. Don’t fear the future—for it indeed is bright. 

Yours truly,
Your future self

When you were younger, did the thought of the future make you nervous? What advice would you give to your younger self?

Image via Monica Choi

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