Although I am familiar with the popular Chicken Soup for the Soul books that I read off the shelves of the school library in middle school, I was a little unfamiliar with National Chicken Soup for the Soul Day, which falls on November 12. After doing a little research online, I found the day is not only about picking up one of these enlightening Chicken Soup books, which house curated collections of inspiring stories of everyday people—and maybe even making and eating actual chicken soup to comfort your soul—it’s about celebrating “who you are, where you’ve been, where you’re going, and who you will be thankful to when you get there!”
At its core, this day seems focused on appreciating where you are in your life and celebrating the journey that brought you to where you are today—and where it will likely take you.
In honor of this National Chicken Soup for the Soul Day, I decided to evaluate the journey I have made so far in my life by using a letter I wrote to my future self when I was a sophomore in high school in 2015. My high school had us write ourselves a letter that we got to read once we were seniors and about to graduate. It has been a few years since I have read this letter, but it still makes me smile as much as it did the first time I read it.
The letter reads:
You are almost done with sophomore year. You only have the rest of today, which is Thursday, May 21, 2015, tomorrow and finals week. I believe that sophomore year went way better than freshman year. You became a little closer with a few more people, and I think your confidence was boosted a little more. I remember during freshman year, you were not that happy, but I believe that high school will get a little better each year. I think you did pretty well grade-wise during sophomore year, and I expect you will keep it up. Also, I don’t know why, but you are going through a period right now of being very nervous about random stuff, so please just learn to relax. You are starting to scare me. Just believe in yourself and breath. You will be able to do anything. This year, you joined the Senior High orchestra, which I think helped with your confidence. You have been walking there every day with Sammy. Today may be your last day this year. I hope that by the time you read this you have your license, because then if you continue orchestra, you won’t have to walk there and get sore feet like me! I believe that you will do great as you mature and grow. I worked hard for you, so keep up the work. Keep getting to know new people and open up! It will do you good! Even though I’m long gone, just remember: MAKE ME PROUD!!
Anjuli of 2015 sophomore year!
*The part about getting sore feet always tickles me. My high school didn’t have an orchestra, so in order to continue my violin-playing, I joined the orchestra at the public high school—about a 16-minute walk away.*
Anjuli of 2015 sophomore year would be very pleased that she did eventually get her license. It may have taken two tries—and a few tears after the epic failure of the first try—but luckily no more walking for her.
As I look back…
It is true that high school was not my prime. I found myself anxiously counting down the days until graduation because I never really felt at home. Oftentimes, I think this dislike of high school sometimes prevented me from making the best memories that I could. However, I did manage to make some lasting memories once I got out of my comfort zone. Some of these included eventually going to the school dances with my friends (none of which I attended during freshman year).
Overall, I would say that high school did get a little better each year.
It seemed like each year running on the cross country team, I was getting stronger and stronger. My last race of senior year was by far the best race I had ever run. My time was 23:01 for a 3.1 mile race—nowhere near the time of a reigning champion, but an entire minute faster than my time at the start of the season, which is definitely something to be proud of. I also grew a stronger bond with many of my teammates throughout the years.
If anything, I could say that high school made me well prepared for college, at least academically. Although I didn’t know I would pursue it at the time, English was always my favorite subject. It was the class I did the best in and the class I put the most effort into. Because I stayed on top of my assignments and put in a lot of effort, the academia of college was not such a big change for me.
Sadly, that nervousness that I felt during sophomore year has never really gone away.
I would say that I deal with a decent amount of anxiety on a semi-daily basis. Most of the time it is school-related—which often leads to overthinking as I try to perfect everything I do—other times it feels more like social anxiety. A slight degree of social anxiety is likely what I felt during high school, which made sense why the social activities of high school didn’t seem so appealing to me (my inner psychologist shining through). Although I still experience this sometimes overwhelming feeling, I have found ways to cope with it. Sleep is a big one. I find that getting enough sleep helps to recharge my often drained brain and tense body. I have also found that making time to watch things that relax me on Youtube, as well as exercising when things get stressful or when I get jittery is very helpful.
In terms of where I’m going…
This is still a little unclear to me. This will be my last semester of classes. The only thing standing in my way of graduation next semester is completing my portfolio and my internship—which I am still in the process of setting up. As I think about it, college really did whiz by, almost as fast as high school. I would say that I have grown considerably since my first day of college as a freshman. I have learned to open myself up to new experiences and to put myself out there—at least more than I did in high school. I am not exactly where I would like to be in terms of my self-confidence, but it has definitely grown substantially since my freshman year of high school.
And I know this confidence will likely only get stronger as I learn to overcome new challenges and struggles in my life. Through it all, I will likely learn more about myself and one day become the person I have always wanted to be: someone who is driven, strong and independent.
In terms of who I will be thankful to when I get there…
I will always need to thank my parents. It’s because of their hard work that I am able to attain an education at all, let alone a college education. They have believed in me and cheered me along on my endeavors; they continue to do so. I know it’s rather cheesy, but I will have to thank all of my teachers throughout my educational career. Literally without them, I would not have learned the skills I have. It’s through their various teaching methods that I have found my strengths and weaknesses.
As you can see, sometimes it’s hard to make sense of the journey that life takes you on, and it can be even harder to imagine where this journey will take you. Here was my attempt to try and make sense of mine.
On this National Chicken Soup for the Soul Day, reflect on your own journey, the person you have become along the way and the people who have helped you get there.
And in honor of the inspiring nature of the Chicken Soup for the Soul book series, here are the rather uplifting words of a sophomore in high school:
Just believe in yourself and breathe. You will be able to do anything.