How often do you look back on your life, contemplating past decisions? Have you ever thought about your younger self, before adult responsibilities and priorities?
We often look back on our lives to contemplate past mistakes, or to reminisce happy moments. However, we may not always recall exactly what we were thinking and feeling in those moments. What was I laughing about? Why was I sad? What were my goals back then? Did I have any aspirations? Have I achieved everything I set out to do?
If you could transport yourself back to a time in your past and answer all these questions — wouldn’t that be something? You would remember what made you happy or sad, and what you aspired to achieve. It could be fulfilling to learn that you have made progress in achieving your goals. It would be liberating to remember what your younger self-thought was important in life.
The easiest way to do this is to write a letter to your future self. That’s exactly what students of the Singapore University of Technology & Design (SUTD) did in June of 2015!
2015 Roadshow @ SUTD
I Love Children partnered with the Singapore University of Technology & Design (SUTD) for a roadshow in June of 2015. It engaged students on topics like fertility limitations and the definition of success. I Love Children also partnered with ZOOMOOV to give the students a chance to interact with children on electronic animal rides.
One of the key event activities invited the students to write a letter to their future self. They were set to receive their letters via post in June of 2020. This presented the perfect opportunity for them to pen their thoughts for future reference. More than 130 letters were written, sealed, and ‘posted’ to I Love Children — then mailed back to each participant in June this year.
“Looking forward to receiving this letter from myself, to myself — five years later!”
The participants were thrilled by the idea of speaking to their future selves, sharing the excitement of being able to have some form of reflection five years later. They imagined that it would be amazing to recall the feelings they had in the past and that it would be a pleasant surprise to receive their letter down the road when they are busy with their adult lives. So, how did they feel when they finally received their own letters? We spoke to a few of them to find out!
Ponmithiran Kannan, 22
In June 2015, I was single, and today, I am still single. LOL!
The letter I wrote wasn't goal-oriented, but rather, virtue-oriented, and I believe I have stuck to my virtues. I have managed to stay true to myself, giving importance to people who reciprocate my values, and most of all to never forget my roots. Today, I am working as a product engineer at AMD (which makes gaming consoles and laptops) and I can't complain, haha!
If I could speak to my younger self, I would tell him, ‘You are a smart kid, just chill out, you will figure it out.’ Everyone has things that they wish they did differently in their life but I believe I am living one of the better trajectories of how my life could have played out.
This project has been very meaningful in that it helped me focus on what I set out to become.
Jonathan Wee, 26
I actually didn’t remember what I had written to myself until I read the letter, but I did achieve what I wanted to.
I wrote three goals down: (1) Graduate (2) Get a job and (3) Get a girlfriend. I am still single so it’s 2 out of 3, but I still have a lot of time! If i could go back and speak to my 2015 self, I would tell him ‘Well done!’ because he will end up with what he wanted and he will be happy. This exercise was very meaningful as I feel that being able to remember my thoughts at different stages of my life allows me to reflect on how I've grown over the years.
Nowelle Tan, 27
I was single in 2015 but I had been talking to someone that I had been interested in. Today, I am dating that same person I had been talking to back then! I am at a firm I had always aspired to work at and I have somewhat managed to achieve what I wanted to five years ago.
I gave myself quite generic goals. I hoped that I was doing something I liked and was with someone who meant a lot to me. Seeing as how I am currently working in a company that I like and in a very stable relationship, I would say I achieved what I wrote in my letter! I also hoped to be happy and joked about reading the letter together with my best friend who was also writing her letter beside me then. The funny thing was we actually kind of read our letters together in 2020 as well, because we messaged each other when we received our letters and sent a photo of our letters to each other to read at the same time!
If I had the chance to speak to the younger Nowelle, I would tell her that bad times won't stay forever, and what’s most important is your mindset and perspective on things. I would also tell her to put herself and her feelings first; don't worry too much about what people might think. Also, stop spending so much money and start saving it for your future!
If I had started saving earlier I could have possibly paid off my student loan quicker. At the moment a lot of my future plans are on hold because of my student debt. Nonetheless, it really was a pleasant surprise to receive my letter. I totally forgot about it and wouldn’t have remembered what I wrote in it. It was exciting to open up the letter wondering what 22-year-old me would write about. It's kind of like catching up with an old familiar friend. I wouldn't mind doing this again. Thank you for this project!
Nowelle Tan, and her boyfriend, Hock
Ian Ho, 29
In June of 2015, I had been dating. Today I am soon-to-wed, albeit not with the same person I was dating back then.
It was a pleasant surprise to receive my letter as I forgot all about it. I think I have achieved quite a few things that I penned down. One of these things was to marry the person I was dating back then, hoping to get married by 2020. However, this relationship didn’t work out and we parted ways shortly after we graduated from university, which is where we met. Nonetheless, I’m glad that today I am with someone who is the best person for me and that we will be getting married soon!
Another goal that I penned down was to keep and deepen the friendships that I’d made during my university days. I read this point with a smile on my face, thankful that some five years after graduation, these close friendships are still present with increasing depth and familiarity.
I also penned down some career goals, stating that I wanted clarity on my career path to pursue. This has been somewhat achieved and I’m happy to be in a stable job today, yet at the same time, still seeking to discover myself and my unique calling in this world.
What would I say to my 24-year-old self? Adulting brings along many challenges, uncertainties, and transitions, and you should expect many struggles and trials in career, relationships, and life in general. But each test will give important lessons, so be humble to reflect, change, and be thankful for whatever comes your way.
This project has been meaningful because it helped me see how far I’ve come these five years and fills my heart with thankfulness for the blessings I have. I’m happy to say I don’t live life with any regrets.
Ian and his fiance
What would you say to your future self? Write a letter to yourself now and you may be surprised by how insightful your younger self will be to a future you!