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My first letter to myself, dated February 25th 2018, began like this: 

Dear Me,

I’m really stressed right now, but what else is new? It’s all trivial in the grand scheme of things, but there’s a lot of stuff on my mind.

I go on to talk about the upcoming SAT and how my extracurriculars are becoming overwhelming. 

I include this gem of a line: You need to figure out your feelings and shit.

And I end with the sweet but depressing signature of: 

Stay alive, 

Me

I started writing letters when my anxiety disorder became more and more prominent in my daily life. Writing letters gave me an outlet to say everything I needed to without backlash, useless advice, or prying eyes. I was able to read back my thoughts over and over, and would often work through them as if they were nothing more than an algebra problem. 

Three months after writing my first letter, I started therapy. I found an interesting parallel in how I felt after my therapy sessions and how I usually felt after writing a letter. The weight that had been sitting heavy on my shoulders would be lifted by the time I walked out of the room or typed out my signature on the blank Google Doc. There was something freeing in both, the feeling that I had rid myself of all the negative thoughts and all the junk that had been crowding my brain. 

While therapy has helped me immensely, there’s still something about putting all my problems down on (digital) paper. It’s also convenient for when I’m panicking at 1 am and need a good stress release. 

Perhaps the most wonderful thing about my stress relief method is that I get to actively witness my growth over time. Having written to myself periodically for 3 years, I have amassed over 50 documents that span through my later high school years, my freshman year of college, my college transfer experience, and now to the present day of life as a college sophomore. I smile to myself when I read that first letter, worrying so much about my SAT exam and about feelings for a boy I don’t even speak to anymore. I look at letters from my first year of college and feel sorrowful for my past self who was so sad that all she wanted to do was catch the next train home. And I skim my most recent letter, written last week, which contains the word “happy” four separate times. It’s beautiful to see myself go through life changes and remember how I was feeling in specific moments, and to see that every single worry I had at the time is now resolved. It gives me hope for the present that my current anxieties will soon be nothing more than words on a page and provide a reflection of who I am at this very moment. 

If you find yourself in need of a friend to listen to your worries, my suggestion is to look no further than the mirror. Sometimes we know ourselves the best. 

Julia is from Westchester, NY and is a sophomore majoring in Exercise Science & Kinesiology. When she's not writing or studying anatomy, she loves hanging out with her dog, Molly, and watching New Girl on repeat.
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