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letter to yourself
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Letter to yourself

My musical obsession, Dear Evan Hansen, inspired this blog post.

“Dear Evan Hansen, today is going to be a good day, because today, today at least you’re you and that’s enough.”

Evan Hansen has trouble fitting in. His dad left when he was younger. His mum is over-worked trying to provide for them both so is inattentive. He suffers from social anxiety disorder. The girl he loves doesn’t notice him. Long story short, his world sucks. After visiting a therapist he was instructed to write supportive letters to himself. The letters were to help him deal with the hardships of life and to help Evan gain a more positive outlook on life.

Letter writing

The art of letter writing is something that’s completely lost in today’s digital age and I think it’s heart-breaking. Maybe it’s the romantic in me, but the idea of someone taking the time out of their day to write down their feeling on a piece of paper is beautiful. But this isn’t a post about love letters. Or maybe it is if you look at it as a love letter to yourself.

Unlike expressive writing, letters fall under transactional writing. They’re written with a purpose, a sort of business to take care of. This doesn’t mean they have to be any less personal or emotional or true. You’re talking to yourself so they should still be full of compassion and empathy and gratitude. The aim is to communicate a message; something you want to get off your chest, how you’re feeling, what you’re thinking – whatever it is that you think you need to hear. Putting it down on paper makes it more real than just the thoughts in your head.

Now, Evan is writing to his current self; words of encouragement and things that will help him get through the day. But the letter’s also work when you’re writing them to your past self or your future self. I remember doing the latter back in secondary school; my teacher set us all a task to write a letter to ourselves in ten years. She wanted us to tell ourselves what we’d hope we had achieved by that point, what we wanted ourselves to feel and all the things we wanted to have in our life. I remember writing in mine how I wanted to graduate from university with a degree and be able to make my mum proud. I also wrote about how I wanted to be in love and have landed my dream job; two out of three isn’t bad?

But what’s the point? I’ve summed up a few reasons why you should write letters to yourself below.

Write yourself to gratitude

Firstly, writing to yourself helps you work on your gratitude, which is important to help you realise what you have instead of what you don’t. It reduces stress to take a breath and actually appreciate yourself every once in a while, so whether you’re writing the letter to your past, current or future self, be kind and grateful for all you have. This works especially well if it’s to your future self to open in a couple of years when you’re having a bad day.

We all love to scroll through our Instagram accounts, appreciating the past and how much you’ve changed. Writing a letter is basically the same, only more personal. You can be more honest with yourself because you’re sharing it with no one but yourself. So, the next time you’re having a bad day, write a letter to tell yourself. Tell yourself that you’re going to get through it like you always do. You can read it again on your next bad day, or in a few years’ time when you’re feeling thankful for the fact you didn’t give up.

Milestones

We always tend to take pictures or post statuses on ‘milestone days’, like a wedding or graduation etc. So why not take the time out to write yourself a letter on a day you’ll probably want to remember for the rest of your life? It would work for things you’re feeling anxious about, too. Like starting college or moving to a new city; tell yourself what you’re worried about and calm your stresses, and then you can read back over it later in life. You’ll see that it all worked out and it was no big deal. Give yourself a memory. Describe exactly how you’re feeling and thoughts you want to remember; your future self-will thank you.

Maybe you could even write yourself a letter on your birthday. The idea being that you open it on your next birthday. Tell yourself what’s happened since your last birthday, how you’re feeling on the day and what you hope happens before your next birthday. This way, you give yourself a constant stream to read throughout your life, and you’re able to see how much you’ve grown as a person but also how you always have and always will be you.

Look to the future

When life gets hard, and you don’t know where you’re going or even where you want to go and you just can’t be bothered, writing a letter to your future self helps take you out of the now and put you in the what’s to come. The key is the think big. Where do you want to be? What do you want to be doing? Give yourself to be ambitious and let your mind run free. Even if when you open the letter in three, five, or ten years, you haven’t become the President of the United States, the exercise will still allow you to get excited about your future and help get you out of your rut.

What would you put in a letter to yourself?

 

Photo by Joanna Kosinska on Unsplash

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19 COMMENTS

  • Eena

    Being a musical/theatre lover, I’ve heard of Dear Evan Hansen and actually have it in my list of musicals to see! I love this idea of writing letters to yourself – it’s a great way to remind yourself that you are worth it and to keep going even when the going gets tough!

    ☼ eena / cabin twenty-four

    • hanmwill
      AUTHOR

      I can’t wait to see it one day! Exactly that! Thanks for reading 🙂 x

  • mariexceline

    I love writing letters but I never write an actual letter to myself. When I write in my journal though it’s almost like what you describe. I feel that I will look back at my journals later to see how life has unfolded and how I was feeling about something in the past. I have put this year’s goals in a sealed envelope to open next year though . I do think it’s a good idea for everyone to write with pen and paper from time to time, and I liked reading your blog post.

    • hanmwill
      AUTHOR

      Ooo, I love the idea of putting your yearly goals in an envelope, would be so interesting to see how they turn out at the end of the year! Thanks, Marie, I’m glad you enjoyed it! 🙂

  • Lavrax

    I love the milestones one! When I was around 13 I would write myself letters for “future Lav” and I always hoped I would just stumble upon them having completely forgotten about them, but actually I still remember everything I wrote lol so it’s kind of annoying. But I like the birthday idea, I think I’m gonna do that this yea 🙂 x

    • hanmwill
      AUTHOR

      That’s so cute, lil future lav, I love! Glad I could inspire you! 🙂 x

  • Wanderlust Arts

    Very nice post! I like the idea of writing letters to myself. I am actually one of the last persons in my group of friends that still sends postcards, as well as letters. I just love how personal they are.

  • falidude

    I love this post. It’s made me want to write to myself. The milestone one is a fab idea!

  • PaigeSummer

    I LOVE this idea so much. I think I’d write my milestones and ones that would give me a pick me up when I need it. I will definitely be making time to do this sometimes soon. Great post!

    Paige x
    http://www.paigesummerx.wordpress.com

  • John Mulindi

    This looks a good idea to try out.I have never tried this, but your post inspires me to do it.

  • Chloe Chats

    I love this post! When I was at school my teacher did the same and got us to write a letter to our future selves. I remember we wrote them in year 7 and she collected them and didn’t return them back to us until we finished our GCSE’s.. it was pretty funny. I think I ended up saying something like “I hope my brother isn’t as mean anymore.” ahaha. But I agree, letter writing is a great thing to do, and I feel the same, there’s definitely something special when someone takes the time to write a letter to you. It’s kind of like postcards, they’re super cute, I have a friend who’s been travelling the world since Jan 2018 and I get postcards from her every so often and it really makes my day <3

    Chloe xx

  • lucymarytaylor

    Writing a letter to yourself is such a wonderful idea, a great way to get everything off your chest and a good keepsake to reread in the future! xx

    Lucy | http://www.lucymary.co.uk

  • Simply Chloe

    Wow this is such a lovely post and a beautiful idea Hannah! I’ve sometimes thought of writing a letter to myself but when it comes to actually doing it I’ve found it really difficult to put my thoughts into words. Writing to your future self about milestones you’ll reach is such a good idea and sounds like the best place for me to start 😊 great post! Xx

  • Ashley Firth

    What a fabulous idea! I’m always writing dull boring notes to myself that I find years later and try to remember how I felt at that moment – the art of letter writing is a beautiful thing I should indulge in to myself! xxx

  • katieemmabeauty

    ONE Im obsessed with the soundtrack for this musical and I’m not so patiently waiting for it to go on sale. TWO, I’m also obsessed with this blog post, such a powerful idea!

    Katie | katieemmabeauty.com

  • alisonw30

    I used to make ‘time capsules’ when I was a kid which included a letter. Not sure I ever managed to leave them till the date they were meant for though! I write in my journal everyday now which is useful to look back on. I like this idea so I’ll try writing a page in a letter form 🙂

  • Geraldine

    Great post Han! I’d probably try to write to myself and note all the hardships but the current positive things I see amidst everything … the light at the end of the tunnel, as some would say!! It helps to write things down as it helps us to realize there’s actually a lot to be thankful for. Loved reading this! <3

  • Really have no idea what I would put in a letter to myself! – this is so interesting though – perhaps I would tell myself to try to keep seeing positive instead of negative things in life 🙂

    lovely post and really good writing – you’re really getting better every post!
    -Lena
    x

  • Abby

    I love writing in my journal for this reason. I love being able to look back at what I was doing this time last year and see how much I’ve grown. I do love the idea of writing a letter to myself to open at a different time. Especially for important life moments. This is a great post. I think letter writing is a lost art and I think writing to yourself is great for mental health and wellbeing.

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