I was writing my 19 year old self a letter and decided to put out a twitter message in hopes someone would want to write one and share it with me… It’s always so cathartic being reminded how similar we are. Here’s a few of the wonderful letters I received.. Thanks so much for passing along. You added so much light to my day.
My letter is at the bottom.
Dear Young Self,
Enjoy your young years as much as you can because you’ll never get them back. They can seriously be the best years of your life.
Pay more attention and be grateful to the ones who truly love you – family and friends, but be careful of who you listen and become friends with. People will try to trick you into believing what they say but listen to your heart. You have to learn that mistakes are okay as long as you learn from them. Above all, always be honest.
Forge your own path, follow your muse even if it don’t seem practical to others. Your life is great, so it’s a good time to prepare for the future. Study hard, but don’t make it your life. Always take care of your health and exercise more.
Be more self-confident by accepting who you are, and always be yourself. What other people think of you isn’t nearly as important as what you think of yourself. Don’t look for a role model to imitate. Look for your inner self and you’ll find a person who may be forgotten, but who lives in you. Look for Christ.
I would tell my future self that it’s okay, I’m going to get cancer, take more pictures, and live for the minute, and love yourself.
Dear 19 year old me,
Brace yourself. You’re life is about to turn upside down! First off, you’re pregnant. Yup, that’s right. There’s a bun in that oven. You’re about to go through some very, very rough times but it’s ok. It does get better! Soon you’ll marry the man you love and he will join the Army. Don’t freak out, but you and your son (yup, it’s a boy!) are going to have to live alone for a year. You’re going to have to do all kinds of new and scary things by yourself, but it will make you so much stronger and appreciative of everyone you know and everything you have. Be strong! Remember, it’s ok to cry. Your husband will deploy twice and it will take it’s toll on you but in the end it will all work out. Don’t focus so much on the hard times (like living alone in a different state); instead, embrace the special one on one time you get with your son and how strong you and your husband’s bond becomes! Distance really does make the heart grow fonder. Remember that. Well, That’s all I can really say to you right now. Stay strong and keep your chin up! ;)
25 year old you =)
Dear 19 year-old Matt:
Stay/finish college, you’ll have to work twice as hard to get 1/2 the money. You’l catch up eventually, but it would have been a lot easier. I know you’ll be tempted to drop out in your junior year b/c you thought you life was falling apart and that no one was on your side. But, the tough times are put in front of you so that you grow strong in all facets of your development. The more you overcome, the more that is revealed to you. It’s ironic how the worse it gets, the greater the reward.
Don’t be ashamed or afraid of love. It’s better you learn to have your heart broken when you’re younger. In your 30s you feel it much, much worse. It still is worth it: the love, anger, work, disappointment, anticipation, hope & despair….but it’s like the chicken pox, better to feel the pain of a broken heart @ 19, than @ 35.
35 year old Matt.
Dear Nineteen Year Old me,
Stop worrying about when your life will begin. You’re not a spectator in the world, you need to stop idly standing by. You are meant to interact and bond with the strangers of the world. That is what life is about. You’re scared of getting hurt. You have no idea how strong you are or how the pain only makes you stronger. I know you’ve been rejected and it feels like nothing else matters. Rejection says more about the person doing the rejection than it does about you. Don’t waste your time worrying about what other people think. YOUR opinions define you. Being a chameleon and absorbing other people’s views will never let you stand out. Connect. Connect with others. Thats the promise of this world… That you will meet people who will shake up your world, break your heart, and maybe even change you forever. Don’t wait to fall in love, but Always make it count. If you aren’t in it all the way don’t waste his time. But if you are… Be honest. Don’t let your fear speak for you. Fear will only make your tongue sharp and cruel. You won’t be able to take words back no matter how hard you try. Make your words count but don’t use them to harm others. No matter how much you hurt at the time. Forgive your family for the flaws they’ve exhibited in the years past and the years to come. They’re the people you really “belong” to. The people who will always gather together when tragedy hits home. Also, Don’t worry about your stupid loud laugh. It’s awesome.
Stop worrying about when your life will begin. It already has.
Look at you go, buddy!
You’ve pulled through a lot and you’re reaching your goals.
But I have some advice for you, the time you spend worrying about what people think about you is time wasted. You are not going to please everybody even if you try with all your might. What’s important is that you don’t give up on what’s important to you and you don’t doubt yourself for one second!
There may be people who don’t like like your music, they may not like your clothes, style, personality, but if it’s important to you and you love each and every one of those things, then that’s the most important thing.
Please, don’t be ashamed of yourself, stop worrying about how people perceive you and just, be!
Love yourself more, you are a talented young man and you have people who DO support you.
Don’t be in such a rush to grow up, have fun!
If I could write a letter to me at 19.
When the chance presents itself take it. It doesn’t matter what it is, just go for it. Life is made up of experiences, so don’t waste them. Make them as interesting as you can When you get the chance to go sky diving, travel Australia, and go surfing just do it don’t even hmmm and ha about it.
Switching majors in Uni was for the best, kids are great but being a teacher isn’t your dream. Start learning Russian and how to read Chinese, it will make the decision to do a masters much easier. At the moment you’re fumbling a little bit deciding if you should or not, but life is still moving on and you have a sweet job at the moment.
You’ll still be confused about what you want to do for the rest of your life, but embrace everything you do. Living in a trailer without heat or water for a month isn’t the worst thing in the world. It will help build character and make you happy to be Canadian. Sleeping with a touque and bunny hug on but denying being cold while it snows outside, well it makes for a good story.
You’ll meet all sorts of people: good and bad, but embrace it. Don’t let people get you down. They’re just there to make you stronger.
Most of all always go for what makes you happy. Visit with your grandmothers more and spoil them as much as you can. Tell your family you love them and keep in touch with your friends. You will be separated by a vast expanse, so enjoy each others company while you can. You’ll miss walking to 7eleven like penguins and laughing til you fall down crying.
“Keep your head up and your shoes tied cause it’s just about time to run.” – chad parenteau
Dear 2005 Valerie,
You don’t know it yet, but you have a learning disability. Yes, you’ve managed to grow up without it being diagnosed. And yet, it will be another 5 years before it is recognized. So, this undiagnosed “disorder” will play a major role in manifesting the obstacles of your early 20s: repeatedly failing college courses, believing you are stupid and lazy, and ultimately becoming depressed.
But believe me: You’re not stupid or lazy, or unmotivated. You’re just not yet aware that your brain functions differently from others. You’re unique. So forget about doing things ‘the right way.’ Figure out what ‘your way’ is, and do it. It doesn’t matter where you “should be”–appreciate where you are and accept that all the failures you’re experiencing and will experience are blessings in disguise. Because if you take away every expectation of where you should be, oughta be, could be, you’re not a loser at all. And these experiences will guide you later when you revisit them.
It will be another year after your ADHD diagnosis that you will be frustrated with your “lack of progress” or “return to normalcy.” You will have forgotten already: you’re a unique person. Your brain functions differently from others. It will never be normal, and for certain, it thinks of the strangest, most interesting and random things. Remember that. Celebrate the creativity that comes with it and enjoy the satisfaction that comes with being aware of all your idiosyncrasies.
Be kind to yourself. Forgive all your mistakes. Know that you’re a good person. And get enough sleep.
You don’t know me yet but someday, in 5 years, you will. I’m you. Well, most specifically future 19 year-old you. And I have so much to say that I don’t know where to start.
You’re a little bit lost, uh? I know you, don’t lie to me. You pretend like you know where you’re going but you have absolutely no idea what you want to do with your life, and it scares you.
Well I have some good and some bad news for you: even at my age, you still don’t know. But the good news is that you’ll have done some awesome things and regret none of them.
That’s right, your life during the next 5 years is going to be awesome.
Ok, maybe not really. Actually the first 3 years are going to be a little bit rough, what with graduating from high school at 16 and getting totally lost in university because these people are no way like you. But you know what? The next two years are so worth it.
You’re probably reading this letter from your bedroom in the South of France, with IS music blasting out of your stereo system. Mom and Dad are getting divorced, and it’s very painful; I guess you’ve discovered Instant Star just a few months ago, and it’s really helping in the process. Jude’s parent’s divorce makes you feel like you’re understood and not alone in this, even if you won’t admit it. And you’re already becoming a big fan of Alexz, right? Don’t worry, that doesn’t go away either. I’m actually writing to you on an idea of her!
I can imagine you from here, wearing black jeans and dark clothes, and some leather black Converses. You love colors and dresses, but never dare to wear them (except for your socks right? I remember only wearing colorful socks.) Your hair is tied into a tight ponytail. Me? Well… I just got out of work, so I’m still in my business clothes: classy black dress, high-heels, soft make-up… But on lazy days, I’m more of a colorful dresses person now.
But let’s get back to business…
First year of college is hard because you’ll still be very shy, too shy really. When Mom will propose you to get help for it, do it. It’ll be an excellent decision. (I guess now I’m the kind of girl you want to become someday. Be confident knowing that!)
At the university, you’ll meet this incredible girl who will help you in the process of getting less shy and facing your social anxiety. She’ll become one of your best friends, and you’ll move to Chile together, for 5 months. (That’s right, Chile! Awesome right?) There, you’ll get to travel all across South America with just your backpack, your friend and a crappy map, and you’ll do things I know you don’t even dream of doing right now: climb a volcano, bath in geyser water by -10°C, walk in the Uyuni salt desert, learn Tango in some hidden place in Argentina… It’ll be awesome. You’ll also live in a big house with 11 roommates, from different countries, who will become your second family; I’m still very close to some of them now. Please, don’t fight it when your friend proposes you to move there. I know it will be a hard choice for you to make, but it will be an excellent one and you’ll never, ever regret it. Really.
Oh, and by the way, I didn’t tell you from where I’m writing to you right? I’m in Chicago right now, for the next 5 months. “On a plane I’m leaving for Chicago…” Oh sorry, forgot that you don’t know that song yet. It’s an Alexz’s one! Not to spoil you or anything, but it’s an awesome song which will actually inspire you to go where I am now.
It’s awesome because nobody knows me here, so I get to be whoever I want to be; I know that’s what you’ve always wanted.
Don’t worry too much about falling in love already. It will come when it does. Even now, I’m still trying to find myself so I just decided to let it go and enjoy my life. Do the same, and don’t let peer pressure force you into dating people when you don’t really like them. There are so many things out there to do and live, you don’t even imagine.
But never forget to love people, and to love your family and your friends. Your family is amazing, you already know that. But you’ll come to know during the next 4 years how amazing and how strong they are. Love them. Show them. Share the love with everybody.
Just go live your life, and be awesome. Because if today I’m proud of the roads I’ve taken it’s because I know you’ll make the right decisions. Don’t be scared of the future.
And most of all, be yourself.
I love you,
Your Future You
Stop the negative mind talk. You are way too hard on yourself… what’s the point of any of this if it isn’t fun?
What do you love the most? Why do you love it? So, is it worth it?
Stop taking so many other people’s stuff on.. even though you come from the middle of a huge family, you’re not responsible for each and every one of them.. you need to save some stuff for you!
Stop being so hard on people you love in your life as well.. even though it’s because you want the best for them – it hurts them more than helps them..
Call Grandma and tell her you love her before you lose her.
Eat a sandwich for crying out loud.
Keep surrounding yourself with like minds.. you are who you hang out with.. trust your taste in character.
Remember to focus on the little things…the little amazing gifts that are all around you.
Do the music you want to do, regardless of the struggle. Keep your eye on the ball.
That time you think your heart is going to explode in pain….. it’s a good thing!! Trust it.. learn from it.
Allow your face to turn red if it chooses, always. It’s endearing, not weak.
Take a deep breath and be careful with your words – they’re all we have.
Love your 25 year old self.
Deep thoughts at 19…