The company I work for values and emphasizes self-reflection. Semi-annually, all of its employees write “letters to self.” Now that my two years with this organization is coming to a close, I just received my last letter. I have compiled all four letters here, and I plan to continue this as my own semi-annual tradition.

I have seen my life transform in these letters and subsequently my happiness has grown. I went from one of the hardest times in my life to one of the happiest in the course of these letters. They are are a great way to reflect, check-in, and be intentional. Here they are:

*Names changed.

August 19, 2015

I don’t really like this idea of a letter to self, I’d rather think of it as a check-in with self. It is day three of our second week of training. I am feeling excited, overwhelmed, and anxious. I’ve had a lot going on this summer leading up to BTA (Basic Training Academy) and it’s all been catching up to me. First and foremost is my break up with Chris*. He broke up with me on July 7th and I haven’t stopped running since then. But now it’s been six weeks, and I’m starting to realize how sad I truly am.

Karen* called my parents last week, so now I have to start therapy and go on antidepressants. I am very unreceptive and do not want to be talking to someone. I want to figure everything out on my own time. But I know overall I am very sad.

In terms of work, I am very excited to get into my school and my groove. I have no idea what to expect. I am excited to be busy, have structure, and learn new things.

-Tara

February 17, 2016

Six months later, almost to the date, and so much has changed. It is weird to read my initial letter, because it really doesn’t feel like that long ago. I remember being that sad, that heartbroken, that lost. In a lot of ways, I still am. I’m still healing from a tumultuous year. But I have also grown more than I could ever imagine. I am more proactive, confident, and reflective. It’s funny to think how last year at this time I was just starting to date Chris*, and now I feel healed from our relationship. I haven’t seen him since the day we broke up, and I am so thankful for that. I have been intentional about moving forward, and learning from our time together.

I knew I needed to be single this year to focus on my growth and development, and I have stayed true to that. Guys have been in and out of my life, David* currently. But the only person I’m invested in right now is myself.

I have had a very amicable experience so far – a great partner teacher, great students, and a great team. I feel myself growing complacent and more focused on what I will do after this program, so I hope to really maximize the 85 days I have left – I know they will fly by. I have developed such a strong bond with my partner teacher especially; I am already sad about going our separate ways.

The most important thing I have learned so far is how to adapt. My team, school, and environment are extremely diverse – this has been a tremendous challenge. I have learned to meet people where they are instead of where I want them to be.

My plan after this program is hopefully to be a Team Leader or go into teaching (or both). I want to continue national service in education because I have so much more to learn. I also want to get out of Seattle – see a new place – experience a new culture. I’m craving geographical stimulation – a void Seattle cannot fill (at least not currently).

I’m excited to see where I will be in 85 days, because no matter what my next steps, I know I’ll be proud of the person I am.

<3, Tara

August 12, 2016

Dearest Self,

We meet again. This is my third letter to self and I am definitely in the best head space of the three. I am a lot healthier and happier than I was during our first retreat, yet I miss that time in my life. I feel at a stand still – unsure of where and how I want to move.

I have my half marathon tomorrow with my roomies – I love the life we have all created together. I already miss them thinking about next year and moving to San Jose, but I am also very ready to immerse myself in something new. My heart always seems to be in transition when I write these letters, because I’ve always moved from one boy to the next. But I’m done doing that – my heart is healing from David* and as it’s healing I am giving it back to myself – that is both where I need and want it to be.

I’m ready to switch from external to internal validation. I keep running and seeking happiness elsewhere, and I haven’t found it. So I’m ready to be content where I’m at – for the first time in a long time.

I have found a lot of comfort and connection in my blog, and it has made me extremely interested in being a speech writer for politicians. But first, teaching 🙂 Cheers to whatever comes and whatever grows.

<3, Tara

February 23, 2017

Dear Self,

Wow…fourth times the charm, right? I can’t believe this is my last letter to self. It is sweetbitter. I don’t really know where I’m at other than in a huge transition. I am getting ready to pack up my life and move to San Jose which I am stoked about. Boy, has this been a challenging year. It has definitely been an eye-opening last year in Seattle. My roommates are my family and I will miss them dearly, as well as the rest of my friends.

My heart is becoming my own. Not necessarily for better or worse, but out of a deep sense of need. I also have been doing a lot of reflection because I want to make the most of my roughly 100 days left. I tried to repair things with Derek* and I only hurt him more. I need to let him go because it is what is best for him.

Overall, I am looking forward to becoming a math teacher and starting this next chapter in my life. Until then, let’s make some memories, Seatown!

<3, Tara

As I reread these letters now, I vividly remember the head spaces I was in when I wrote them. I think the biggest theme I notice throughout them is that I only grow when I am committed to it. I only learn from my mistakes when I challenge myself to. And I only move forward when I am ready to. Reading through these has given me faith and confidence in my ability to continuously seek growth while finding beauty in the whirlwind of transition. Dear self, let’s rock this. 

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