There are many who write letters to their past selves sharing with all those who read it what they would have hoped to know at that stage in their lives. They write about the fears they might have had that are inconsequential now, the burdens that were not theirs to carry, the warnings that could have saved them from regret and all the love and the words of wisdom that they hoped that someone had shared with them and what they now want to share with others. These letters are helpful for anyone to see how far they have come and others to benefit from their wisdom, especially if it catches them at the right time.
I, however, write letters to my future self.
Though I love the learning that comes with looking at the past and I do that often through the reading of my countless diaries and regular introspection, I try very hard to also ensure that mistakes and miscalculations of a different sort do not take place in the future and that my future is laced with triumph and celebration rather than regret and misery.
Therefore, my letters to my future self that I write and even open from time to time have taken on various roles that have helped me along the way.
The protector letter provides me with clarity when I find myself in situations that I have been through before. I know that often in the heat of the moment, it is harder to have a clear head about your weaknesses and which road to take, but these letters written in moments of awareness protect me from regret. I have check-lists to tick off against people and situations, I have clear warnings against patterned behaviour and all I would want someone to advise me in that moment or situation.
In some instances, I have predicted the ebb and flow of my emotions and have written letters to counteract them. The ‘for when you are sad’ letter, the ‘for when you are just done’ letter, the ‘for when you are hurting’ letter all fulfill the purpose of a therapist as they tell me that this too shall pass. Sometimes they also tell me exactly what I need to do to get out of that funk and lo and behold my non-talking inanimate piece of paper makes more sense of my life than anyone else.
There are many turning points in life in which I want to be reminded to move forward thinking about a specific life goal or vision that I have for my life. These turning points are both the known ones of age or other usual life milestones such as graduation, the first job or marriage or the unknown ones which I can anticipate such as the time I feel I have achieved something or the time I feel I am on top of the world. At times like these, the motivator letter tells me there is more to come, more to do and more to live for. It motivates me to keep moving without getting complacent.
The Reality-Check letter is especially for those times of triumph and glory in my life when I need to be reminded that everything I have is a gift that can be taken away at any moment. It corrects me against pride, greed and even jealousy especially when I clearly anticipate and know what might go wrong in certain situations. These letters are often hard and firm but are the most loving letters I could write to myself to bring me back to reality.
There are many roles even other than these that my letters take, often overlapping with each other but these roles are the ones I cherish and am thankful for the most. In a bid to ensure that my life is as smooth as it could possibly be, putting thought into and writing these letters is my contribution and I will continue to do so as I open some letters and seal some.