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Day 28 - An Open Letter to Younger Me

In all honesty, my immediate thought having sat down to write this is: should I even say anything to my younger self? At my current stage of life, I have an amazing family, a successful business, and enough close friends to be happy. What if something I said to my younger self changes all this?!

Should we look back at actions and decisions we have taken in life and guide ourselves to do something differently? This, as no doubt has been surfaced many times in this series, is something you can philosophise to the point of madness. There are multiple dimensions to this, which could be swept away by a “don’t live by regrets” mentality. I most certainly agree that dwelling on the past invites negativity into your thoughts, but I am also a strong believer in the adage that you learn more from your mistakes than from your successes.

If you have ever read a personal development or “secret of my success” book, the power of positivity cannot be understated. Preventing negative thoughts, which most often come from looking back at regrets from your past, can have dramatic impacts on people’s lives. Sadly, there are people who have one incident, something that happened in a split second, that shapes their life from that moment on. For some, it is simply not possible to control thoughts looking to the past.

So, the question remains, if you could, would you tell your younger self something that would change the direction of your life?

Well here goes…

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An Open Letter to Younger Me (circa 1985)

Hello me!

Well this letter is going to come as a bit of a surprise, and don’t even ask how much the stamp cost!

I have been given the opportunity to write this letter and speak to you in a way I hope will let you know you are already on the right path. Let me (us) be clear, you don’t know it, but who you are now will only grow and improve. Your insecurities and lack of understanding of your future are NOT unique; in fact, you are MEANT to feel this way.

I won’t say too much about the future, as I cannot risk you changing too much about what life you create for me at this point, but I can say there is so much for you to be proud of.

You are feeling that your child and teenage years go so slowly and that becoming an adult is so far away, but please, please realize that it comes sooner than you are actually prepared for, but more importantly than that, make the most of NOW. I won’t patronize you and tell you that your childhood is the best time of your life, as while that is not far from the truth, there is so much to look forward to.

Shocking truth alert… you are an introvert and you currently think that your shyness is a weakness. This is not the case. Many of the positive things you achieve in life and the influence you have on your family, friends, and relationships are based on your thoughtfulness and empathy. It took a while, but once you learnt to embrace this fact, the happier we became. This will open up the word “yes” more, and yes is a word that makes things happen. It enables us to see, do, experience, and learn more.

Remember when you wrote out hundreds of lines from the ZX Spectrum computer magazine in Basic, typed Run, and spent the next few hours seeing how many typos prevented the program from running? Then the excitement of a simple sprite moving around a screen, when the code was finally correct. This is only the start of the adventure into how computing affects your life in the future and the start of a lifelong passion for technology (and gadgets).

I am going to ask you to do a couple of things differently and only a couple:

  • You will get glandular fever. Do NOT take this lightly. You are not invincible and if you don’t fully rest it out, it will have a huge impact.
  • An invite to Manchester will come along—get the train!
  • Say yes to that dance at the Rose Wilmot disco. I know you can’t dance (and you already know you never will with style and grace), but that is not the point.

Time’s up… See you in 2018!

28 Comments
Level 12

nice writeup

MVP
MVP

It's nice that you would use the letter to encourage yourself. I to am an introvert and it often feels like that's the "wrong" way to be. But I've learned to accept (and love) the way that I am. Now I have the freedom to be who I am and not worry about it.

Level 10

“Just keep going. Everybody gets better if they keep at it.” - Ted Williams

MVP
MVP

It took me too long in life to realise this was a strength. A good example, is if you start typing into Google (or your favourite search engine that auto suggests) 'Why introverts', you will see only positive suggestions.

m_roberts​ sorry, but you said Basic and little sprite moving across the screen in association with your younger self, that brought back a flood of memories from my Algebra 2 with computers class in High School. I did so much programming on those teletype terminals in basic and saved those to paper tape. I played so many hours of Star Trek and to think of all the trees I killed! When we could bring home the terminal with acoustic coupler modem, we could play it hooked up to our TV. [If anyone follows that link about Star Trek the picture of the terminal is the exact kind we had connected to our HP main frame in school.]

It was using this computer not just as a toy but as a tool in Algebra and Calculus in High School that started me down my IT career. I went into Electrical Engineering but at every turn there were computers that needed programming to help solve the engineering problems. Even at my summer internship I ended up writing a primer on finite element analysis on the IBM systems that the company published internally. So when my first job in the Air Force was doing computer support for the Engineering Directorate at Wright-Patterson AFB it was such a natural fit. I got to help all the other engineers solve problems by doing their IT.

good write up.  It is difficult to write that letter to you past self.   We are today who we are because of that past self.   If you hate who you are, well then you can still change, but your past self didn't make you you made you, past and present.   I would have probably said, stick with baseball longer and see if the shoulder injury would have healed.   Seems fine as an adult.   Also cut your hair.  You will eventually. 

MVP
MVP

I was different to the rest of my brothers and sisters - they were very outgoing and did lots of outdoors stuff. I was the opposite and would play video games with friends online, spend hours on the computer, etc. One day, I overheard my dad talking to one of his friends and he said something along the lines of, "I don't understand it but I will support him. It's better than being out on the street, getting into trouble, taking drugs and not knowing where he is".  That really helped me to embrace who I was without worrying what other people thought.

MVP
MVP

As has come out in other articles this month, getting affirmation from someone else can often be that catalyst to realisation. We are all different in our thoughts, actions and attitudes and it has been so good to see a theme of acceptance and positivity running through this months series of posts.

Level 13

It's never as bad as it is.

Shocking truth alert… you are an introvert and you currently think that your shyness is a weakness. This is not the case.

Introverts unite! Our shyness is our power. I am thankful every day that I married a fellow introvert, I can't imagine how stressful life would be otherwise.

"Say yes to that dance" is good advice for almost any young person.

Level 11

I think we all wished we had said yes to the dance at some point.  Sadly most of us stood at the side, watching other people dancing thinking I can't do that, or how silly they looked. 

I do agree, time feels to pass slower when you are younger and it feels to just fly by when you get older.

MVP
MVP

If you find the brake to slow it down, please share with me!

Level 14

Your "shocking truth alert" paragraph is 100% accurate and spoke directly to me.  It's almost as if you were talking about me specifically.  I also understand what you mean about any changes made having a negative impact on our lives, such as our kids, but the unknown is just that....unknown.  I have had convo's with people who make assumptions that if anything might have changed that their kids might not have existed or something of the like, but the fact is we just don't know and cannot know.  Some things are mistakes we learn from and other things are blessing that we should embrace and not worry about what could have been.  Thanks for the write up.  I've enjoyed reading these articles immensely. 

Level 9

Introverts can be very powerful. I too have seen this as a weakness in myself.  I've begun to understand that introverts can be strong if they just let themselves be themselves.  Accept who you are.  Use your strengths and you will be powerful.

MVP
MVP

These are common traits of an introvert, which I would suggest is very accurate, well it is for me, but I have become well adept at putting the extrovert face on when necessary.

  • Very self-aware
  • Thoughtful
  • Enjoys understanding details
  • Interested in self-knowledge and self-understanding
  • Tends to keep emotions private
  • Quiet and reserved in large groups or around unfamiliar people
  • More sociable and gregarious around people they know well
  • Learns well through observation
Level 9

Hope that helps the younger you!

Level 9

Love this post!  It reminded me of Schmich's Wear Sunscreen article.

Level 12

I've had the same thought as well. If what I say to my younger self affects my future self, wouldn't we end in an endless loop?

Level 10

Well written letter,

showed that being an introvert is not a bad thing as most extrovert will want you to believe.

There are strengths and weaknesses in every personality

Personally, I am of the belief of not looking back nor telling my younger myself what to do, or not to do. "Life finds a way!" To give away the ending ruins the story. To reveal all the clues spoils the mystery. To mark all the pitfalls on the map ruins the adventure.

What makes us... "Us!" is how we got here. Successes, failures, insecurities, regrets, wins, accomplishments, and a whole lot of the mundane. All woven into the fabric of our being. Celebrate! And write the next chapter in 2019!

Unfortunately I am still searching as well.

MVP
MVP

What if you did go back and change something that meant your life turned out differently. Your future self wouldn't know if that was a 'better' or 'worse' outcome compared to what you have now and would probably say they too wouldn't change anything. And on the loop can go, hence this being a rich source of book and film material.

Level 15
Level 20

In chaos theory, the butterfly effect is the sensitive dependence on initial conditions in which a small change in one state of a deterministic nonlinear system can result in large differences in a later state.  I'm not so sure the small change wouldn't be catastrophic.

You had me when you said "don’t even ask how much the stamp cost!"

Thanks for a good submission!

Level 14

It would be quite handy having a letter from your future self as long as it has a date.  Then you could do all the really dangerous stuff knowing you would be OK (until the date on the letter).  If any of it had gone wrong the letter would have warned you about it and you would know that you were still alive on that date.

About the Author
Technical Director at Prosperon Networks, a Platinum SolarWinds Partner in the UK, specialising in Network & Systems Management and Monitoring. Responsible for a team of engineers who together provide consultancy, installation and training services to organisations of all sizes throughout the UK and Europe.