wman discusses letter she wrote to herself (Photo: Courtesy Image)

I stumbled into my cluttered shoebox of a studio apartment in Hollywood at about midnight—earlier than I’d planned to get home, but after what had seemed like the longest day ever—and looked down at my stack of mail. Sticking out from under the usual late notices, unpaid bills and rhinestone-studded wedding invitations was a large manila envelope.

As I held it, my thumbs caressing my handwritten name, I recognized the scrawl of a lefty trying so hard to keep her letters in the lines; the subtle restraint in the penmanship of a woman who wished her writing looked sophisticated instead of mirroring her unkempt nature. I recognized it because it was mine.
In my senior year of high school, our teachers had asked us to write a letter to ourselves, to be opened 10 years later. Who did we wish to be at age 27? If we could say anything in the world to our future selves, what would it be?


Ten years later, my letter was back in my hands, forwarded by my parents, who have lived in the same house since before I was born. I sank into the depths of my seafoam green couch, purchased for $100 from Craigslist, and let out a huge sigh.
The letter felt like an omen, especially after the day I’d had. While I was training my last pilates student of the evening, a Beverly Hills fake-breasted type, she said she was worried about me after noticing I’d gained some weight—just as I was preparing to change into the very tight LBD I had brought to wear on my date that night. As much as I wanted to let her have it, I nodded in agreement, afraid that otherwise I might lose her business.


The downward spiral continued on the date itself, when the man I’d been seeing almost daily for two months confessed that he was getting back together with his wife. I hadn’t known he had a wife, let alone that he was contemplating getting back together with her. Maybe I should have been suspicious when he never invited me over to his house. What guy ever let a “lack of furniture” stop him from getting some action? Knowing the truth made me feel like such a fool. I’d really been falling for him, and now he was the latest in a string of assholes I’d worked too hard to impress.


As I tore open the envelope, part of me hoped it would contain some nugget of insight into my inner self that would pull me out of the cycle of disappointment I couldn’t seem to escape, something to trigger me into action toward a better life. Maybe I’d remember that I’d always wanted to become something fabulous, like a doctor—I might even find a line warning me about married men and the spotty paychecks of pilates instructors.


Not a chance. Instead, as I read, it became clear that the younger me had been certain that by now I’d be married to the love of my life, would have several adorable, well-behaved children and, most important, would be filthy rich. All very amusing, but as I got to the end of the letter, my amusement quickly faded:


I know you are going to be reading this 10 years from now…. I am so insecure about myself…. I hope 10 years from now I am really proud of myself, because I am not proud of myself now…. Love yourself, respect yourself, stand up for yourself and don’t let people push you around because I let people do it to me now. Please, please, I hope I am secure and self-assured 10 years from now.