Motivation logo

Letter to my former self

Could a former version of myself truly be me?

By Mark LangenhorstPublished 2 years ago 6 min read

Dear Mark,

It’s you. From the future. I know this is going to sound weird; even I am still trying to grasp the complexity of this situation. If you don’t believe my disbelief, look at how I began this letter. How do you even address a former version of yourself? I’m pretty sure you don’t start by calling yourself a dear; that somehow gives off a vibe of conceitedness. Anyway, how’s it going? Ugh, I need to get better at this. I digress.

If this letter finds you correctly, you’ll be about 18, the age that society starts calling you an adult. The age that people are supposed to have the rest of their lives figured out when most haven’t even gotten to the first quarter mark of their lives. People are going to start dumping their expectations of who or what you’re supposed to be in their eyes. Those people aren’t around long enough for you to allow them to have a lasting impact on your future. Along with that nugget of advice, I have a few other things I’d like to get off my chest.

Do not spend so much of your life planning to a point where you allow opportunities to slip away. Of course, setting goals and making plans for where you should be at a certain point of your life is great, but don’t spend so much of your time waiting for some big break or perfect moment; they either won’t come or will arrive in such a form that you will not be able to notice it until it’s gone. Even if you are able to execute on methodical strategies or recognize that big break when it is present, life has a funny way of showing up, seemingly washing away almost everybody’s ‘5 year’ plans. Even if you are at the place where you wanted to be 5 years ago, there is no guarantee you still want to be there once those 5 years have come and gone. Don’t let a job title force you to let go of other interests in your world. Your occupation should be a verb that describes what you do, not a noun that envelops who you are.

When you feel unmotivated, change your environment. Some people will try to pass it off as laziness. They’ll say “you just need to work harder.” Sometimes you’ll even convince yourself that maybe there’s something you could be doing differently. You can run through an array of hypothetical and real-life scenarios, trying to get to the root of what you are doing wrong. Ultimately, when you do things you care about, especially when you’re feeling validated and useful in that situation, motivation comes easily. Dad always says “do what you love and you’ll never work a day in your life.” Also, listen to your parents more. The delivery may come off as cheesy, overused clichés, but there are truths to (almost) all of them.

There are going to be times when things don’t go your way. It’s going to happen. Don’t let fear of failure keep you from experiencing life in its fullest or force you to settle for less than what you deserve. When you do experience these failures, do not ever allow anyone to diminish the strides you took to better yourself or those around you. Don’t allow yourself to deride anyone else for trying the same things for themselves. You’ll come to find out that those who bring others down further for falling short of the greatness to which they aspire are the same ones that were too afraid to try reaching for their own stars. A majority of life’s experiences are going to be those mistakes you make to help you grow and learn; learning opportunities don’t just disappear after you become an adult. Don’t always be so hard on yourself when they happen. Acknowledge the opportunity to grow, own up to the mishap, and move past it. Time has already done the same thing.

Don’t be afraid to ask for help or accept help from people when they offer. Somewhere down the road our society has developed a mendacity where we sense weakness in those who request any type of assistance. Don’t let false judgments from those with whom you barely have any acquaintance keep you from getting any succor. Even if you don’t necessarily need the help, if you continuously decline their help over and over, they may feel less useful around you or feel like they’re doing something wrong that keeps you from their support.

Consider interactions between humans to be more of a course in chemistry than a social study. Sometimes people won’t agree or even like you. One of the many aspects of life, aside from the ones already mentioned, are the innumerable variables that come into play with every single exchange throughout a human’s time on this planet. Everybody is going to react differently to certain people and situations. Even the same people in the same situation could render different scenarios, as our emotions play so much of a bigger part of our existence than we realize. Our innermost thoughts and feelings seem to tear down and construct new realities with each passing day. When feeling great, we feel like we can take on anything and come out on top. Conversely, when we’re feeling down, some of the simplest tasks can seem like such an obstacle. When we’re feeling stressed or overwhelmed, we can’t seem to find that word in our brains that we seem to use every day, and finally come to it while we’re driving home, about 4 hours after the conversation has passed and we don’t even remember what we were even talking about anymore.

It’s still amazes me to this day thinking about the duality between our nature and our own chemical balances or imbalances in the brain. Our environment can have such an effect on our emotions, just like our emotions and how we react to certain circumstances can affect those around us. When reactions become poor, we have an obsession to pinpoint what happened or who was at fault. There are times when it’s just a perfect storm, a combination of people, present emotions, and past experiences that become incendiary.

Regardless of your environment, your emotions, or who you do or do not get along with, always choose to shine bright in your reality and in the realities of those around you. Do not let fear of rejection get in the way of perpetually striving to make a positive impact for everyone you meet. No matter what happens in life, whether in your future or even in mine (even though we’re the same person), don’t let bad experiences and previous heartaches callous you. Some seem to say that we’re living in a dark, dreary world; both in your present and in mine. Be the light that proves them wrong.

Yours Truly,


PS: As you can tell, I haven’t gotten any better at addressing myself in letters. Should I have said “You Truly”? Oh well.

PPS: Buy post-it notes whenever you see them. It’s a vicious cycle of redundancy when you can’t remind yourself to get more because you already ran out.

self help

About the Creator

Reader insights

Be the first to share your insights about this piece.

How does it work?

Add your insights


There are no comments for this story

Be the first to respond and start the conversation.

Sign in to comment

    Find us on social media

    Miscellaneous links

    • Explore
    • Contact
    • Privacy Policy
    • Terms of Use
    • Support

    © 2023 Creatd, Inc. All Rights Reserved.