“The day the child realizes that all adult are imperfect, he becomes an adolescent; the day he forgives them, he becomes an adult; the day he forgives himself, he becomes wise” ~ Alden Nowlan
Fearful. Self-conscious. Insecure. Lost. Confused.
These are just some of the feelings that dominated my teenage years and followed me into adult life.
Closed. Suspicious. Apprehensive.
These were added as I became acquainted with adult life.
Responsible. Independent. Strong. Perfect. Selfless.
These were the traits I thought I had to possess to be successful and considered a “good” person.
It was my birthday on Thursday. I turned 35 and as I discussed in this post, I’d been in a bit of a funk about it during the months leading up to the big day.
I’ve been reflecting a lot on my life journey which made me ponder what I wish I knew or had been told years ago.
I decided to write a letter to my younger self, which I will share later in this post.
Benefits of Writing a Letter to Your Younger Self
Through writing my letter, I discovered many benefits that I had not expected.
- It helped me to heal parts of my past and gave me closure on difficult periods of my life by taking the time to give myself the love and understanding that I needed at the time, but did not receive
- It helped me to forgive myself and others for the pain and upset I experienced
- It helped me to gain clarity about areas of my life that are still being affected by my past as well as areas where I am not following my own advice
- It helped me out of my funk by increasing my happiness, strengthening my self-esteem and giving me inner peace
- I can now share my knowledge and advice with others who may be in need of support and inspiration
Tips for Writing a Letter to Your Younger Self
- Be real and authentic
- Be clear what age “you” you’re writing to
- Pick a period of your life that still bothers you, that was particularly challenging or an aspect of your personality you struggled to accept, understand or develop
- Talk to your younger self in a way you would speak to a younger sibling or a dear friend – i.e. be compassionate, loving and empathetic
- Speak directly to your younger self using “you”
My Letter to My Younger Self
My letter is to the 17 year old me. I’ve written my letter as advice on how to navigate my late teens and early twenties as I found the transition from teenager to young adult challenging.
I’ve wanted to write this letter to you for a long time, and I wish I had written it to you much sooner.
The first thing I want to say is that you don’t have to be afraid.
You have spent most of your life on tender hooks, waiting for the next disagreement, for the peace to be shattered yet again and I know you are terrified of making decisions just in case you get it wrong.
Trust yourself and you won’t go too far wrong, besides most things are really not that significant.
I know you’re often punished for very minor things, often mistakes you couldn’t help, but life won’t always be like that. You’re allowed to make mistakes – in fact it’s part of being human.
Each mistake will teach you something.
Some lessons will be painful but they won’t kill you or destroy you, they will simply help you to grow. You won’t always see it at the time, but trust me, you will learn a hell of a lot over the next few years.
Don’t let mistakes stop you from trying new things and experimenting and don’t lose confidence just because you make a mistake.
The second thing I want to say to you, and this is important, is to stop hiding who you are and dumbing yourself down to make others feel more comfortable.
You are bright and intelligent. Be proud of that and use it to your advantage.
It is a invaluable trait to be curious and to ask questions. I know it often makes you stand out from others and it’s got you into trouble on more than one occasion, however, it is one of your biggest assets.
In some ways you are different and it’s not a bad thing.
It’s OK not to think the same as everyone around you, in fact it’s a damn good thing.
Most of what you have been taught in school and by society is not fact, it’s simply information fed to you to control the masses, so you are right to question everything.
People say you think too much and this will continue as you move through adulthood. Eventually you’ll see that more often than not, those same people don’t think enough.
People say you think you’re too nice and as you grow older, your kindness and refusal to do what everyone else is doing will really piss people off – even so-called friends.
Your happy demeanor and optimistic outlook sometimes rubs people up the wrong way, for seemingly no reason.
Do NOT make apologies or feel guilty for who you are. The world needs more people like you.
Everyone’s ultimate goal is to be happy, so when people can’t find it for themselves, it may frustrate them to see that you appear to have achieved it – whether or not they know your story.
You are finding your place in the world just like everyone else, so no-one has the right to make you feel inferior for simply being who you are.
You don’t have to sleep around, you don’t have to like clubbing or drinking alcohol and you don’t need to do it to fit in. In fact you don’t need to fit in. It will only make you feel even more disconnected and unhappy in the future.
You do not have to conform.
You can hold out for someone you feel a true connection with, despite other people telling you that you’re too fussy. You don’t have to settle.
Now, it’s important that you truly believe what I’m going to say next…
You are NOT responsible for your parent’s relationship or their happiness and it is not your responsibility to bring up your sister.
Nurture your relationship with her as your little sister and of course be there for her as her big sister. Love, guide and support her. Enjoy her.
At the same time, live your life freely and make the most of it.
You do not have to feel guilty for wanting the freedom to live your own life.
Travel, explore and experiment. Find out what makes you happy.
Your life is your own and you owe no-one an explanation. If you want to spend time alone, do it. If someone makes you feel bad about yourself, stay away from them.
Positive energy flows freely from you and as you get older, you will have to work hard to protect your energy.
Put healthy boundaries in place and teach people how to treat you. Do not adapt to how they choose to treat you. – Tweet this
You don’t have to accept any negative behaviour towards you.
Don’t let society’s bullshit constructs about relationships (romantic or other) keep you in unhappy situations.
Know that you are important. Believe that you matter.
It is not selfish to take care of yourself and put yourself first. Prioritise your physical, mental, emotional and spiritual health and well-being and do not let anyone make you feel guilty for doing so. It’s vital.
Stay active and keep growing.
Read, write, meditate and stretch daily. Even when you don’t feel like it, do them all, every day.
Commit to a daily routine and protect that time. It’s sacred. Don’t worry if others don’t see the importance.
Finally, trust your instincts.
This will come with age as you get to know yourself, which means spending time alone and trusting your own voice.
Trust that you know what’s best for you.
Spending time alone doesn’t make you sad, crazy or a loser, it will be the most valuable time you spend doing anything.
I feel like there is so much more I want to tell you… but I’ll wrap it up here.
Always be happy Lea, no matter what happens, protect your happiness and peace of mind.
Always be true to you.
Immense Love Always,
35 year old Leanne
How to Use Your Letter to Your Younger Self
Although this letter has been written to my younger self, it provides inspiration and motivation for me today. It reminds me how to be happy and how to authentically and unapologetically live my life each day.
You can use your letter to your younger self as a personal mantra as it can serve as a powerful reminder of what you need in times of difficulty or uncertainty.
Your letter can also be a reflection of your core values as well as areas of your life that you still need to transform, therefore read your letter regularly to ensure you are being true to yourself.
Writing my letter was extremely therapeutic and I encourage you to take the time to write your own letter to your younger self.
Set aside a time when you won’t be disturbed and write from the heart. Be honest and don’t filter or edit what comes out.
Although I’ve shared my letter with you, I totally understand how vulnerable it can feel to share your inner most thoughts and feelings with others, so you don’t have to share your letter with a single soul, if you don’t want to.
Sharing is Caring
What advice do you wish someone had given you when you were younger?
What do you know now that you wish you had known then?
How could you use that same advice in your life today?
If feel happy to do so, I’d love you to share some of your personal insights from writing your own letter.