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What I Wish You Knew: letters to my younger self

Updated: Sep 4, 2023

In the fifth grade, my elementary school made us write letters with advice to ourselves that would be distributed around graduation. At the time I thought it was a silly exercise, not realizing how much I would appreciate this letter later in life. My "advice" centered upon convincing my crush at the time to fall in love with me, hoping I had a good job, and to be kind to my family. I wish I had taken more care in this letter, but it's an amusing reflection of my 5th grade view of the world.


Since then, I've developed a great love for hand written letters––whether to myself, to friends and family members, to boys and girls I've liked and loved (and never intended on giving said letters to)––and tried to consistently give them to people I love as a token of my appreciation. My diary has become littered with "dear Juliette"s and countless words of wisdom, and while some of these entries are for my eyes only, others are more reflective of the grander scheme of a person's life.


I've compiled some of the many letters I've written to myself over the years (albeit edited slightly to avoid any embarrassment or grammatical errors) and copied them onto here. Maybe you'll learn something; maybe you'll find some advice for yourself; maybe you won't. Regardless of what you get out of them, I myself find it rather therapeutic to revisit my past selves and understand what mattered the most to me during different times of my life. I've started with the oldest first and ended with the present moment.

 

May 12, 2019


Hi there.


I’m currently sitting on my bed, cramming for an AP Latin test tomorrow that I procrastinated for and thinking about my future instead of the endless translations I must memorize. Tomorrow I hear back from Emory University, and while it’s not my top choice, the results will set the tone for my sanity going into Spring Break (when I hear back from the rest of the universities I applied to). But as I contemplate my life and the events that have led me to this moment, I feel the need to remind myself of a few things.

Life goes on. No matter the situation you are in or the sadness you may feel, these moments are fleeting. You have the capacity for so much joy and love inside of you; don’t allow the few worries to take over your being. Live in the moment and enjoy the mundaneness of life, because you deserve to feel All the Good Things.


I’ve recently realized a few things about my past, and I’ve finally grown out of them––or at least I think I have. I look back at myself as a girl, and I see a trend of self-doubt. I thought that I was incapable of saving myself from the demons in my head. I allowed the fear of my own entity to encapsulate me; I became dependent on others to uplift me from my sorrows. I welcomed my demons in and nurtured them to health, without realizing they were the cause of my own despair.

However, I am so much stronger than I think––both mentally and physically––and I need to embrace this strength rather than hide from it. I know it’s hard to stay afloat amidst the complexities of life, but it’s so important to persevere and hold continuous faith in myself. I hold so much potential for greatness, and I promise you these trials will end soon enough.


Juliette, you’ve got so much going for you, and you cannot lose your faith in the process.

 

August 20, 2020


I’m currently sitting in the passenger seat of my own car, finishing the long journey across the country for the first time. I’ve spent a lot of time this morning contemplating my own existence, and I remembered this letter I wrote to myself a while back; I figure it’s time to start again with my endless accounts of life advice.

Listen to your friends. Hear them. Love them. They have more wisdom than you realize, and they only want the best for you. You are so worthy of love and you have so much love to give. Remember that.


Your past may terrify you and leave you haunted by demons, but try your best to continue to fight against them. I firmly believe that one day you will defeat them all. You are so strong and capable of anything. You are your own worst enemy; fight that.


If you find a way to believe in yourself, you can accomplish so much. I know it.

 

February 19, 2022


It's been a while. I hope you're doing well, wherever you are in life. I am in the process of recovering from covid (yeah, we're still in the midst of a pandemic, woohoo) and have been going a bit insane from boredom. Hence this letter I suppose! I've had a lot of time to reflect and sit with myself void of distraction from other people (minus Sappho). At first it was a bit painful, and I desperately longed to just sit with someone and chat. My poor family got ample FaceTime calls and texts. I've watched more Friends episodes in the past five days than I think healthy (I'm definitely a mix between Monica and Rachel, with perhaps a smidge of Ross in there, in case you were wondering), and I've scrolled through tiktok after tiktok until my eyes glazed over and hours passed by.


But in the midst of all this boredom, I finally came to terms with the loneliness, and I felt rather comfortable. There are very few constants in life, and even fewer constant people. Whether separated by time apart or hurt feelings, those you love in life might not stick around forever. Besides yourself, your family is the closest thing you have to a constant (and I know for many people even this lacks truth), and I know for you (us?), family means everything. Every time you've felt true heartbreak (most done by the same person, might I add), your dad has written you the sweetest texts and threatened to "fly out there and beat his ass"; your mom has called you every day checking in on you and offering her wonderful words of wisdom; your sister asks you what you need and is more than willing to talk shit or just listen while you cry; and your grandma sends you gifs of cute kitties and shares her countless stories about stupid men. Your family always knows what you need and will never leave your side––never stop appreciating them.


I think the best choice I've made in life thus far is adopting Sappho. She truly is the light of my life and my best friend. God forbid the day she leaves me... I might just fall apart. But hopefully that hasn't happened yet, and if it has, hopefully you were able to come to peace with it. My point is, though, that you should always have a cat with you at every stage in life. Or a dog, if that's more your style right now. Men and women can come and go, but pets are loyal to you forever.


Also, do your goddamn work and stop procrastinating your way through life. If you do what you love (which I hope you are doing), work should never be a chore. Just because our society is capitalist and makes money seem like everything doesn't mean it is. I really hope you're loving whatever you're doing in life, and if you aren't... seriously rethink your life choices lol. Life isn't worth being unhappy for; you've only got one life to live (well, theoretically, or at least as far as we know), so live it up goddamit!


 

July 16, 2023


Dear Juliette,

I am so proud of you. As of now, we've graduated from UC Berkeley with honors, written a 60+ page thesis on a topic you love, gotten a job as an archaeology technician in a national park, and grown SO much. You've fallen in love with a boy, and even better, fallen in love with yourself. You followed your own path and sought adventure in the great wide somewhere, helping people along the way. Keep doing what you're doing.


The transition into adulthood has been difficult, as is expected, but I feel that I've been doing well at adjusting. I'm getting stronger than I've ever been—both physically and mentally—and I'm re-learning how to be independent. That's something I hope you never lose; your independence is one of the best parts of you, I think, and I never want you to lose sight of it.


I'll keep this one short and sweet:

  1. Always persevere through challenging times. To quote A. A. Milne, "You are braver than you believe, stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think." (Or something like that)

  2. Stay playful and childish at heart.

  3. Wait until you're settled to even consider starting a family. Children are gross.

  4. Be creative and allow yourself to shine through the arts. Writing has always been and will always be your outlet.

  5. Keep reading and staying curious! Just because you're out of school doesn't mean you shouldn't keep learning about the world.

  6. Follow your dreams, even when they seem impossible to achieve.

  7. Make sure you do something you love. Your job should never be a chore, and it's worthwhile to be in a profession that brings you joy. As of now, we definitely value outdoor activity in our job (I mean, I'm literally getting paid to go on hikes and look at the ground), so hopefully that stays with you forever.

  8. Treat your body with respect and love. Your body is your temple (in the non annoying Christian anti-sex way) and you should take care of her. Eat well, but don't be afraid to enjoy yummy junk food when you want to. Remember that you are always beautiful inside and out, and changes in your body are natural and beautiful.

  9. Allow yourself to love, and when you do fall in love, love deeply. Don't settle for less than you deserve. Your standards should always be high.

  10. Most importantly, love yourself. There's no point wasting time disliking aspects of your personality, physique, or anything in between. Unless you've really lost yourself (which is impossible), I'm sure you're still hot AF and living your best damn life. And if you aren't, do something about it! Move somewhere new; change your career! It ain't worth it to be miserable my dude.


I'm excited to see where I'm at whenever I read this, and I know I'm going to do some amazing things in life. I mean look where we are already, and we're only 22!


Head my advice and keep on keeping on. We've persevered through severe mental illness, heartbreak, loss, and so many changes, and I have no doubt that you will continue to be a bad bitch who doesn't take anyone's shit (especially men). Be the goddess you are!


Love,

Jetta

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