Most of my posts are in the “Writing Advice” category, so I thought I’d be open-minded and give the “Journal” category a chance. Today I’m going to teach you why this specific type of letter is absolutely genius, and also how I choose to write them.
Have you ever heard of Dear Future Me letters? There might be a different name for them, but that’s what I like to call it. Basically, you write a letter to yourself in the future and specify how old you’ll be when you open it (it may also be an occasion). For example: My 21st birthday, college graduation, New Year’s 2030.
Why should I write one?
When creating these letters you need to carefully imagine your reader (which in this case is the future you). After you have a firm image in your mind you can begin to write your letter. I believe this is a lot like writing novels or stories. In order to connect with your reader you need to first imagine them. Of course, each reader will be different, but you probably have a type of age group and/or gender that your story is geared towards. Dear Future Me letters help you practice the visualization to make your story relatable to readers. I believe they have personally acted as a great practice/warm-up for writing my stories.
Enough blabbering, just tell me how to write one!
Okay, okay. I’ll show you an example below. (Sally is a made-up person—just a note)
Sally’s High School Graduation
15 years old
Dear Future Me,
I sure hope you’ve chosen a career plan by now. A few days I thought for sure I wanted to be a teacher, but yesterday I began planning to become a famous scientist like Albert Einstein. Sometimes I don’t know what goes on in my head. Hopefully you decided on a job, and it better be pretty awesome, too. I don’t want to spend the majority of my life behind a desk, or being a waitress. We both know that you are super shy! Please, please, please don’t be a waitress.
Your past self,
In this example, Sally is writing to future Sally about her career plans. The note at the top saying, “Sally’s High School Graduation” is stating the occasion in which the letter must be opened. On the right, Sally stated the date of writing the letter and placed her current age underneath. This is typically how I like to format my Dear Future Me letters. It’s fairly simple and has all the information needed to know.
After I am finished writing the letter I print it out (unless I wrote it by hand) and seal it off into an envelope. Then I carefully write the occasion once again on the envelope and place it with the rest of my letters in my Dear Future Me box. I keep a list in my desk that I refer to often with all the dates and occasions for when I need to read the letters (this way I won’t accidentally miss a special opening day!).
In fact, right after I write this post I’m going to hop back onto a word document and create a new Dear Future Me letter to open at the beginning of my second year of college. I definitely want to straighten my plans out. I’m going to lash out at myself and make sure that all my values and life plans are exactly the same. One thing I’m especially going to tell myself is to never look down on teenagers. Because…you know…that’s an intrusively
common cruel thing to do…yeah…
Not convinced yet? There are plenty more reasons to write a Dear Future Me letter!
1) They are suuuuper fun! (And just so you know—I never use those many Us in a row.) I love writing them, but the best part is when you reach the date and you get to finally read one! Hurrah! I think reading Dear Future Me letters are more enjoyable than reading old diaries because they are written specifically for me. Sure, you write a diary for yourself, but it’s for your present self. When you read them, there’s a gap between you and your past self. It feels distant. Well, not with Dear Future Me letters!
2) It gives you something to look forward to. Have you ever bought yourself a birthday present? (I sure have!) Too bad you already know what’s inside. (Cough) By the time you’ve reached the opening date of your Dear Future Me letter you probably already forgot what you wrote for yourself, so it truly is a birthday present from your past. Sounds pretty sci-fi-like if you ask me!
3) You can travel through time. Not literally, of course. Think of it as simply switching brains with your past self (a little creepy, I know). Have you ever wondered what types of things you thought about when you were seven? Writing these letters makes it so that you can simply jump through time and hop into your past selves. Pretty neat!
4) It sure is better than an old photo album. This is probably self-explanatory. Sometimes I scavenge through those dusty old books and say, “Huh? What was I doing? If only I wrote a note to myself…”
I hope I’ve convinced you to write a Dear Future Me letter. I promise you, writing one is not something you will regret!
Have fun writing to your future self!