To my future self
When I was seventeen years old, I carried with me a colossal secret: I was anything but happy. I couldn’t let myself admit to it, because guilt overwhelmed me every time I simply thought about my unhappiness. I was surrounded by people who loved me, was well-poised to graduate from a great high school and attend an even greater university, was able-bodied, was doing well in and out of the classroom.
On paper, I had it all together.
But that didn’t stop an extreme sense of dissatisfaction from controlling my every move. My family was falling apart at the seams, my bitter parents always on the verge of calling it quits for good. I hated my body with a fiery passion, and felt frustrated that my overt attempts at restricting my caloric intake hadn’t yet caused me to shed any weight. Each day, I withdrew further and further from those around me.
I constructed a bubble around myself, not daring to let anyone try their hand at popping it.
Until I popped my own bubble–with the point of a pen. As a child, writing was my biggest comfort. Any notebook was a place I could let my imagination run wild, express myself to the fullest extent, and construct the narrative I wanted to put out into the world.
“Dear future self,” were the words that I wrote. What came next didn’t feel conscious at all. Instead, I word-vomited all over the page. I confessed to future me how alone I was feeling, asked her how she was feeling now, and disclosed my biggest dreams for her. For someone who only existed in a different timeline, this felt oddly natural.
She and I understood each other.
When I finally finished the letter, I sighed with relief. I tore the page out of my notebook, stuffed it under my pillow, and smiled. Why? I couldn’t explain it at the time, but I had released my pent-up discomfort and cleared my head for thoughts about how I could counteract my pessimistic brain. This, as best I knew it, was catharsis.
In the coming months, this practice became a safe haven: a means for grounding myself. I stored each “letter to Rory” in a binder. Though I never let anyone else lay eyes on them, the passages helped me define my sense of purpose, my relationships with others, and my role in manifesting a better future for myself.
Me today is proud of past me for her ability to reflect and think proactively. And to future me, I hope you are proud of me now, and I know you see more room for growth. I hope you return to this practice when you are seeking alignment, and spread its reflective power to those around you.