A Letter to Myself About the Things That Matter

By Caroline Hesby, TIWP Student

I am not sure when you will read this.

I am not sure if you will read this at all, but just in case you needed a reminder, I came to tell you about the things that matter. They always end up being different than what you think, don’t they?

I know you think that your bad test grade is going to haunt you for years. I’m here to assure you that it won’t. Neither will a bad hair day, the time you stumbled in the hallway, or the time you had to stand alone at lunch for a few minutes. All those worries you had, those minuscule moments where you weren’t perfect- they do not matter. They will not haunt you.

The only thing that will cast a shadow over your life are the things you don’t do—the things you don’t do because you let the fear of imperfection take the reins. The things you will look back on and feel a pit in your stomach over are the things you said no to. Things like not going to that party with your friends because you assumed you weren’t welcome, or shying away from raising your hand to volunteer. Running away from someone who began to show an ounce of care towards you. These are the things that you will look back on and realize truly mattered.

So, as the version of you who is writing this now, I am going to make a promise to the both of us. A promise to remember what is important in life. A promise to ensure that at the end of each day you never have to lie in bed with that, stinging, empty feeling of regret ever again. A promise to never let the underlying fear of slipping up prevent us from creating those irreplaceable memories.

I promise that I will do everything I can to live every opportunity to the fullest. I promise to love more deeply, and sing out louder. I know that deep down this is what will allow my future happiness to thrive. I promise to leap at chances and take risks. I promise to look people in the eye even when I am shaking with fear. I promise to laugh harder and not leave anything on the table.

I cannot promise that I won’t mess up sometimes.

I cannot ensure in any way that nothing will go wrong—because it will. 

But I promise to live in a way right now that future me—you—will never have to spend her nights wishing to go back in time and live a little bit more.

And you must promise the same to me. I know that part of you still lives off of that feeling of safety and comfort in rejecting change in your life. I know that it’s so much easier to run away from the things you want but do not want to mess up. But you have to trust your heart—because in your heart you know you would rather shatter the glass and clean it up than never even get near it. 

I promise you I will not fear my inevitable stumbles and accidents. I know that most of the time my inner anxieties are blinding me from a beautiful experience. Promise me that whatever you do, you will trust that voice in your head telling you to make a leap of faith. Promise me you will remember these things, these things that truly matter.

I can’t wait to see where we end up. 

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