When I talk to my younger friends, I tell them that a great advantage on their side is time. How I wish I had all that time again! How much better would I use those years given what I know now. This is what a letter to my younger self would look like.
Dear young Daphne,
How much I would give to be you.
You still have time on your side. Time to initiate small changes that will snowball over the years. Time to tell the people you love that you love them, while they are still around.
Did you hear the birds sing when you woke up this morning? What a blessing to be woken by birdsong. The day will come when your hearing isn’t so good. Much of the world you take for granted now will be lost to you. Savour this wondrous world while your senses are still acute. See the colours, hear the sounds, smell the scents, taste the flavours, feel the textures.
Treat others better
That old woman you impatiently overtook because she was walking so slowly and blocking your path? That old woman was me. I would love to walk at your pace, yet my bones will not allow it. The young cannot know how the old feel at being brushed aside and left behind. A smile from you would have made my day. It would have told me that you saw me, that I still mattered.
The young people on the bus who were so rowdy they annoyed you? You were them not too long ago. Oh how quickly we forget. How foolish the young seem to us! Yet we cannot grow old without having been young. We cannot grow wise without having been foolish. So it’s alright, my dear, to make your mistakes. Enjoy them, celebrate them. And allow others to be young and foolish too.
Learn to recognise and accept love. Know that people will never love you as you want to be loved. They can only love you as they know how to love. Look past their imperfect actions. Look at their heart, and see the love that is there. That love makes them vulnerable. Don’t hurt them by your judgment and your criticism. All they want is your love and approval, just as you want theirs.
Don’t be needy. Just because someone is not telling you all day long that they love you, doesn’t mean they don’t love you. It just means they are busy living their own life, as they should. You’ll be much happier if you get on with living your own life, instead of trying to convince others that they should make you the centre of their lives.
Believe you are beautiful
I know who you really are, because I was you once. And you are more beautiful than you realise. I tell you all this not because you are not perfect. You already are. I tell you this because I see you fret about so many things, and I wish you knew that one day all that you worry about now won’t really matter. All that will matter is that you lived, you dared, and you loved.
How much I would give to be you again.
An Older, Wiser You
More “letters to my younger self”
How about you? Why not write a letter to your younger self, or a letter from your older self? It’s a great way to gain perspective.
If you want more examples of “Letters to my younger self”, read this book for inspiration from 41 famous women.
53 replies on “A Letter to My Younger Self”
Daphne, this is a very beautiful letter! I think the insights we gain from one simple exercise like this can be quite stunning. I’m going to go write one now!
Thank you Albert. Your comment just gave me an idea! Your latest post about dialoguing with the child in us? Maybe I’ll write a letter to that child, maybe that child will write back… or I may write out the whole conversation. Thanks for the inspiration – as all your posts are because you’re living what you write and make others want to as well.
What a wonderful “assignment”. Although the past is past, writing a letter to ourselves is a great way to gain a better perspective on who we’ve become, how we got there and what the future might hold.
I’m going to try this as well. I’m looking forward to what my younger self might expose, as well as what my older self might reveal.
BTW: The letter you wrote to yourself is absolutely beautiful.
Thanks. I used to want to change the past, undo the mistakes etc. Then I realised that right now I am living the ‘past’ of my future and therefore CAN change it for my future self by what I choose to do now. Convoluted, yet reassuring once it makes sense.
Do try it. Hey you’re a teacher at heart, or at least on your blog, and I’m sure you’ll both teach and learn great lessons from this exercise!
Like all of your writing, this is beautiful and heart-felt. I’m wishing you a daring adventure full of lots and lots of love.
Stacey, thanks very much. Life is such an adventure, isn’t it? Yours is a beautiful adventure too with lots of love – I can tell because this comes across on your blog and in your comments.
I love the concept here Daphne.
Very inspiring… and useful.
Keep these awesome posts coming. 😉
Thanks Marc and Angel. Your words mean a lot to me.
Daphne – that is beautiful. And isn’t this exercise so powerful? I have done it in my journals and it is so telling! Thank you for sharing your letter. We have many of the same sentiments to our younger self 🙂
Stacey, isn’t it funny how all the ‘adults’ want to tell the same thing to young people, and none of the young people are interested, including ourselves in the past? One of life’s ironies.
This entire letter is one big WOW! You are brilliant and amazing.
Do you know if the world population got this one thing I thing there would be world peace.
“Know that people will never love you as you want to be loved. They can only love you as they know how to love. Look past their imperfect actions. Look at their heart, and see the love that is there. That love makes them vulnerable. Don’t hurt them by your judgment and your criticism. All they want is your love and approval, just as you want theirs>”
There would be peace in families. Peace at work. Peace in traffic. Peace in relationships with friends. Peace with teens really stands out.
Conflict is about misunderstanding. This quote is about letting go of expectations. If we did there would be no disappointment. No taking things personally. I could go on and on.
I hope you are writing a book and this quote is in it.
Thanks my friend for sharing such a powerful and heartfelt letter.
You’re the best!
Your comment is making walk on air, and I’m not sure it’s healthy for my ego, though I’ll certainly remember what you said about writing a book and including those lines. Thanks for being such a staunch cheerleader!
Peace in the world at large, and in our little worlds at home, would be wonderful. And very achievable if only we worked on conquering ourselves instead of each other.
I have to agree that conflict is about misunderstanding. I wish I could let go of expectations as easily as I write about it. It’s such a big challenge for me, and probably for many people. Maybe I will write a book on this one day. Thank you so much for this comment, Tess. You really made my day and gave me confidence. YOU are the best!
I most would like to talk to myself as a teenager. Those were the most challenging years. Albeit, myself as a teenager would have had nothing to do with myself in my 30s – I was a pain in the arse. Seriously. 😉
Fox, we were all pains in the arses as teenagers, I suspect. Teenagers know all the answers and have to put up with all the annoying adults who think they know better! I’m glad we both survived those difficult years 😉
Hi Daphne! It’s good to know what you’d want to write to your self now from your older self. I’ve also read Giovanna’s post and appreciated the lessons she’d teach to her younger self.
I couldn’t help but feel a bit jealous though, ’cause though you’ve also read the letter I posted to my younger self earlier in my blog, you’ve never even mentioned it in your post here 🙁
From what I remember, it was posted even earlier than Giovanna’s entry, and you’re one of the first who commented there. (Not wishing to cause any trouble, but expressing something I would like to settle deep within me)
I appreciate the honesty of your comment, and thanks for bringing this up so I can explain rather than keeping it to yourself. So sorry to have made you feel like you were unacknowledged.
Yes I did read and comment on your letter to your 13 year-old self. For some reason I wasn’t prompted to write my own letter at that point, perhaps because I wasn’t thinking much of my teenage self (too embarrassing!) When I later read Giovanna’s post, it was something I could relate to my present self, and that’s what prompted my post.
Part of it is pure timing too. Just as I was sitting down to write a post for this week, I saw Giovanna’s post and something just clicked just at that point in time. I should have remembered your post and linked to it, and have included the link in the post now.
Thanks again for pointing this out. It’s something I’ll pay more attention to in future. Hope there are no hard feelings.
Thanks Daphne, I really appreciate your response. I was a bit reluctant to bring it up to you because I fear it might taint our good relationship, as your are one of the first bloggers I really liked and got to know personally on-line. Communication is really no easy matter, but it does help in our relationships. I know I have no right to ask or demand anything from you, especially on which posts or bloggers you would like to include in your articles, but what matters most to me is to clear things out. Thank you for your honest reply 🙂
Jocelyn, I’m glad we sorted this out. You’re right that it’s important to clear the air, and maintain the good relationship. I am grateful for your online friendship and this way we can understand each other better. Thanks for your honesty too!
I loved this letter. I do have to say, even if the older us had the ability to send letters to the younger us, the young wouldn’t listen. It’s the way of the world. We all need to make our own mistakes and history is destined to repeat itself.
Vered, you’re right that our younger selves wouldn’t listen. I certainly remember advice my mother gave me that I refused to follow, only to realise in later years that I would have been better off if I had! That’s part of life’s adventure I guess, that we have to live it ourselves.
Thanks for this. I was touched when you told your younger self not to worry as much. For most of us, I think our present selves could benefit from that advice as well.
Chris, thanks for your comment. I’m not a worrier by any standard, yet I do know that much of what occupies my thoughts are things that don’t really matter. You’re right that we really don’t need to worry so much!
Daphne, I want to say a heartfelt thank you for posting this. It moved me to tears. It is the kind of letter that most of us would like to write to ourselves. The lines that stood out for me were that people “can only love you as they know how to love. ” I forget this sometimes, and this was a lovely reminder of something very true.
It is a lovely “coincidence” that you posted this because I had actually penciled in doing this very thing on my ‘To Do’ List. Your doing so here is all the more reason for me to go do it … and soon.
I’m just so glad that this post helped somebody. It warms my heart to know that it could move you to tears. That line about people loving us in the best way they know how is something I often forget too.
And yes life is full of amazing coincidences! Maybe this is the universe’s way of making sure you get that item on your to-do list done. I highly recommend the exercise. Thanks for your lovely comment here.
I love this letter. Especially the part of your younger self rushing past your older self. It gave me chills. To think – and I do this – that we have to be in such a rush to get to “somewhere” that we can’t take a couple of seconds to stop and smile, or maybe say “hi”. This is a very touching letter, and one I’m so happy you’ve shared here with us. Not only is it a glimpse into your wonderful heart and soul, it’s also a touching reminder to me about what matters in life. Daphne, thank you for this, and I will work on one myself…
Thanks for liking this letter. The part about rushing past older people really struck me just the morning I wrote this post. I walked past an old lady and for some reason turned to look at her. She gave me the biggest smile, as if in gratitude for something. That’s when I realised how often I’d just walked past without really seeing so many people who had gone before me and made the world the place it is today for us younger generations. Thanks for your encouragement here today, Lance. I am grateful for you.
Hi, Daphne. You’ve done a masterful job, selecting some of the biggest things we learned how to forget. 😉 I, too, especially was moved by your wisdom about love. If that were the single biggest thing we all would be taught—and reminded about—throughout our formative years, just think how different the world would look! 🙂 ~ Julie
Hi Julie, thanks for your sweet comment. We certainly forget a lot of the important stuff, don’t we? Yes the world would be a different place if we could all love better. Yet there is probably a reason why we are the way we are. Something to ponder about for me!
What a great idea!!
I’ve often wished I could be young again, but with everything I know now. I think your letter is the next best thing.
I also think it could be worthwhile to write a similar letter to our children. I watch my sons blast through life without much gratitude for the beauty of each moment. Maybe a letter would slow them down and allow them to be mindful for at least a short time.
Until time travel becomes possible, we’ll have to settle for going back and forth in our own minds, I guess. I’m usually very happy with being my age, though sometimes I too wish I could go back to a younger time. Don’t we all?
You made such a great point about writing letters to your children. I wonder how I would have reacted if my parents had tried to write to me when I was younger. I know I certainly wrote them a few letters in my mind telling them all the things they were doing wrong as parents! Ha ha. Young people can be so naive and mindless.
Hi Daphne .. thank you for the post and the stimulating dialogue it’s opened up .. yes there are things I would dearly like to change, or have changed over my life time .. but if I did – I wouldn’t be where I am now ..
– I wouldn’t have found .. you, you, you, and you .. you all know who you are = you ..
– I would not have had the most incredible time with my mother
– I wouldn’t have found my passion, my future, my inspiration, my happiness .. as I have now
and in this light .. I’m not sure I’d change now – or want to go back .. (though it is definitely not an easy time .. for a variety of reasons – but I have a future, a definite one .. defined and entwined in my mind) …
Thanks – I’ll be interested in anyone’s comments ..
What a beautiful comment. You sound like you’re very happy with where you are and where you’re going, and that’s wonderful!
Yes all that we have lived brings us to where we are today. I wouldn’t change my past too, and can’t anyway. Still, I can do something with my today, just as you’re doing.
You continue to be an inspiration for me with what you’re doing with Positive Letters.
A wonderful letter, Daphne. I think it is a good idea for reflecting and figuring out ourselves.
Thank you, Daphne.
Thanks Arswino. Yes this is a good way of reflecting on the present from another time. I appreciate your comment!
What a great idea and what a beautiful letter. I think this is something I need to do.
Sorry, forgot to add great post! Can’t wait to see your next post!
What a great idea and what a beautiful letter. I think this is something I need to do.
Thanks for both your lovely comments. Yes do try writing a letter to yourself – it really made me see things from a different perspective, having to step outside myself. Love your spirit blog, by the way!
Your letter to your younger self gets top marks for its authenticity, freshness and being real to life. It’s great that you are able to see your current worries for what they are – impermanent. We are really perfect in our imperfect ways. Our imperfections are the seeds that help us grow and evolve. There should be little regret when death draws near, for a life well lived and loved!
Evelyn, thanks for giving me top marks! Your comment made me smile with school-girlish pride! This exercise helped me step out of the now and see the impermanence of so many things. I’m sure you get this realisation in meditation too.
I love it Daphne! I love the idea, and your letter is so heartfelt and I’m sure your younger self would be grateful to read it. 🙂 If I had one thing to say to my younger self it would be something like:
You will get through this and new worlds will open up to you, and where you are now is going to seem like a beautiful joke that the Universe played on you. 🙂
Thanks, Nathalie. I like your light-hearted approach to life. Sometimes I take life too seriously, and you’re so right that it may all be a joke in the sense that it’s just meant to be enjoyed with laughter!
That is a beautiful letter Daphne and a wonderful idea. I might try it myself…
Thanks Hilda. Do try it, it was a great exercise for me!
I was thinking about this very topic a couple of days ago and I agree with you that such an exercise does help gain a sense of perspective.
When I look back at who I was, I can see why what happened had to happen. I would not change a single thing. I would have worried less about the future but overall that is a lesson in and of itself.
With the passage of each birthday, I realize that every little thing that happens fits into a puzzle and with more time, I can see the story line and theme. Life is truly beautiful! 🙂
What a zen outlook you have on life. That’s wonderful. It’s true that sometimes the reason for painful things happening is clear only in hindsight. All we have to do is live long enough to see the story emerging.
It’s like sewing a cross-stitch, I think. Each stitch seems so insignificant yet over time the entire tapestry starts looking beautiful, and we finally understand the need for the dark threads – they set off the light ones so beautifully, and both are part of the larger picture.
Terrific idea, Daphne. Here’s my letter:
“Hey, You! Yeah, You. Yeah, I’m talking to you. You there wondering if things will ever get better. Praying it will but not really believing it. Feeling like you can’t take another stinkin’ day of this life sometimes. Yeah, I know all about it. It sucks. I know your dirty little secret. I know you want to kill yourself. How do I know? Because I am you. From the future. About 20 years, give or take.
“I’m here to tell you to stop wasting all your time fantasizing about offing yourself. Instead use that time to create exactly the life you want … starting right now. You think you can’t change anything? You’re dead wrong. And if you do kill yourself, you’ll only be missing out on the biggest party there is in this world called LIFE, my friend. Listen up and listen good. Here’s what you need to do:
“No. 1: If anything or anyone is making you miserable. Don’t think about killing yourself to get away from it. Think instead about actually physically removing yourself from the situation. You think you can’t do it? Of course you can! March on over to the library and study the lives of successful people and see what can and can’t be done with the burning desire to make it happen.
“No. 2: Your family will do just fine without you. You’re a kid for Chrisssakes! Let them be. Take care of your own needs. Even if that means leaving them. Don’t kowtow to their unreasonable demands. And, let’s face it, almost all their demands are unreasonable. Trust me, they will never thank you for it. In fact — and I can’t stress this enough — if you do sacrifice your life for theirs, they will actually grow to hate you for it. Don’t ask me why. I’m still trying to figure that one out.
“Maybe that’s why I’ve been given this chance to write you this letter back through time: to warn you not to make the 2 biggest mistakes of your life:
1. Wallowing in self-pity about your situation and idealizing suicide; and
2. Clinging to the fantasy of the family living happily ever after if you just sacrifice a little more, always a little more.
“Don’t waste the next 20 years of your life doing what they tell you to do. Figure out what you want to do and move heaven and earth to get it. You want a hint what that is? What do you love to do the most and always think you’ll never be good enough to do for a living? Yeah, that’s it. You’re gonna make it if you try.”
Wow what a letter! It’s incredibly honest and really conversational. I can believe you actually speak and write to yourself that way. I’m glad you also seem to have things under control. I’ve seldom been suicidal, except for a vague intellectual curiosity, though I know people who have real problems with this.
You know, you write amazingly well, and I’m sure that if you decide to be a writer, you’ll make it. Just bear with the initial rejections from publishers etc, as all the legendary authors have had to do. Thanks so much for sharing your letter here. I was glued to every word! You have a gift, thanks for sharing it.
I really like that.
Too bad we don’t get the wisdom of our elder-self with the curiosity and enthusiasm of our younger-self … or do we …
JD, thanks. Interesting point. I do know some older people who have the bright-eyed curiosity of a child… we could strive to be those people, and not yield to the know-all been-there-done-that attitude that is the alternative?
This is beautifu, Daphne! I am especially touched by these lines:
“Know that people will never love you as you want to be loved. They can only love you as they know how to love.”
This is so true, and so easily forgotten. I am guilty of forgetting it myself more often than I would like to admit. Thank you for the wonderful reminder!
Jay, thanks for your comment. I’m as guilty of forgetting this as you are. I guess we sometimes need the bad experiences to really learn the lessons.
This is a wonderful letter. Wouldn’t it be great if we could actually send letters to our younger selves? Thanks for sharing this and being so open. The honesty is much appreciated by this reader! 🙂
Thanks, Positively Present. Yes it would be great is we could communicate with all our selves through time. Maybe we do, in a way. I’m grateful for your appreciation!