If you are reading this letter, I have successfully manipulated the speed of light and have traveled back in time to deliver you a message. I write this letter to you as your 27 year old self. I am essentially still you, only I am a little older and wiser. I’m sure you have many questions. So before you drop this letter and begin to slowly walk backwards to the nearest exit with your mouth ajar; have a seat and please hear me out. Of all the times I could have gone back to, I chose this particular time, because this was the time that you needed me the most.
I am not writing you in the hopes of swaying your decision. Altering the past can have grave consequences on the future. Perhaps the 27 year old self you come to be doesn’t exist today if you choose otherwise. That is a risk that I am not willing to take.
This year has been particularly tough on you. 6 months ago, you buried your mother. But you didn’t allow yourself to properly mourn. I know because at 27, you are still processing this. And that’s not because this wasn’t the greatest loss you have ever faced. We both know it was. You didn’t allow yourself to properly mourn because you have an unhealthy romance with your strength.
More specifically, the arbitrary values you assign to strength. You hate vulnerability and moments of inadequacy. But you won’t find the remedy in the bottom of a liquor bottle. You can only sedate yourself for so long from the inevitable.
Every morning when you get out of bed you feel a little more defeated than the previous day. I’m not sure if you are depressed or wallowing in denial. But I know today you will make a decision that will alter the trajectory of your life. You have grappled with this decision for the past few months. But even you know that this idealistic view of strength is compressing your essence. Today is the day that you will drop out of college.
As you walk out of the registrars office, regret and uncertainty will loom over you. You will feel helpless. You will be angry. And you will feel like a failure. Your mother will be the first person you think of because you made her a promise. The shame you feel as you have to call your father to tell him that you have dropped out will consume you like an asphyxiant.
If you think this sounds terrible, and trust me, it is— experiencing this wide array of emotions in real time will be even greater. Earlier in this letter I told you that I chose this particular time because this was the time that you needed me the most. Perhaps after you accept this decision, you will need me even more. This journey that you’re about to set out on will be one that pushes you to breaking points that you didn’t know existed; only to forge new ones that will also be tested and broken. You may not be able to see it now, Terrance, but you are built for this.
I think you have always known that. But some where along the way you forgot what it felt like to be vulnerable. You forgot about the lessons that are acquired. You didn't allow yourself to see the majestic beauty one finds when they search the most intimate regions of their soul. And you made the unfortunate mistake of thinking that vulnerability is a badge of helplessness.
You may not be able to feel it now, but the moment that you drew your battle line, a fire was lit inside of you. Others will feel it long before you ever do. But trust me when I tell you that it is there. It burns. Though this journey will be bumpy and riddled with false victories, some amazing things will happen to you. You will find a purpose that gets you out of bed every morning.
You will become a writer. Which doesn’t sound exciting at 20, but you’re just going to have to trust me. It will be tough in the beginning. You will struggle to find your voice. You will doubt yourself. You will see your writer peers excel and wonder if you have what it takes. Repetition will be your hallmark. But at some point, everything will click.
You will discover that you have an unique ability to selflessly give yourself in everything you write. You will find that your art is also a form of therapy for you. It will feel celestial. People will cling to your words and apply them to their own lives. And spoiler alert: You go back to school, keep your promise, and graduate college May of 2017. A little later than originally planned, but life is funny like that.
I know there will be times when you don’t believe. Faith has never been our strong suit, has it? These words may seem foreign now. After all, I am your 27 year old self who has traveled back in time to deliver you a message. But there will come a day when you read this letter and think back to the first time you allowed yourself to be vulnerable and this will all make sense.
You see, Terrance, you won’t always be brave and you won’t always be strong. Sometimes your voice will shake and your hands will quiver. And there will be times when your heart and your head cannot come to an agreement. But you will find your true strength in an uncommon place. Those moments of fear, inadequacy, and vulnerability that you have been running from, are the moments that will shape you.
Your 27 Year-Old Self.
For more stories like these, follow Terrance’s personal blog on Medium.com