Some people write letters to their younger selves to express their personal life journey. I did the exact opposite to achieve a similar goal.

When I was little (like middle school little), I wrote letters to myself in the future. I’m not sure if that’s normal – or healthy – but that futuristic outlook has had positive repercussions I still unexpectedly encounter.

When I read my clumsy handwriting from nearly 10 years ago, I treasure the innocence and curiosity that each word holds. Many of the paragraphs contain questions that consumed me at the time. Where would I go to college? What profession would I choose? Would I ever learn to be patient and hold good conversations? I think these efforts tie back to a deeper question: who would I become in the world?

My younger self wanted certain “things” back then: the right collection of professional clothes, a respectable car (perhaps stick shift), and a close group of uplifting friends. I imagined myself independent and polished and carefree. I wanted to be something more then who I was.

I haven’t reread those letters because their intent is ingrained in my mind. As a result, I still ask similar questions to myself.  Who will I become? Will I learn a new aspect of character or confront a previously unidentified fear I was succumbing under?

Asking such questions can post valuable discussions conducive for growth. We humans are messy by nature. Whatever we touch, think about, or do holds evidence of our existence in that situation. We fill each day with to-do lists, relationships, accomplishments, and much more. Our actions bleed into the lives of others and mold us – for good or for bad – into what we set our minds toward.

I encourage these futuristic questions because I recognize the answers more clearly when they appear. They direct my mind towards a goal to grow in areas that are currently weak. And many of my questions from the past are answered. Yes, I’m a UNC Chapel Hill Tar Heel. I’m hunting for the balance between therapy and entrepreneurship in a career. And hopefully I’m learning patience along the way as well. I’m able to confront more adversity and accomplish more goals than younger me could have understood. And I like that. The joy of growth includes recognizing its presence in life and sparking more questions about the future. When we ask questions, it focuses our attention on a goal and reminds us when we have accomplished it.

I destroyed most of those letters long ago, but I still have a habitual collection of thoughts and interests that I treasure. I mostly draw my thoughts in art journals now. Hopefully the future me will learn to appreciate discipline and growth as part of the journey towards becoming something better in the future.

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