"I know at this time that you are still trying to find yourself. You probably want me to tell you that in five years, you will have found yourself. The truth is that I don't believe you ever will yourself because Self is an ever-changing concept. Instead of finding yourself, you will learn to love yourself for exactly who you are, no matter who that Self is at the time."

To My 18-Year Old Self:

I’m here to tell you that you survived.

18 is a tough year. Hell, anything in the teens in a tough year. They say that high school is the best four years of your life, but I’m here to tell you that this is far from true. College isn’t even the best time of your life. The best is yet to come.

You survived. You survived it all. College applications, broken hearts, fights with parents, breakups from friends. And yet, you are still here, alive and breathing. And happy. I know that the tiniest, most minuscule things seem like they are the end of the world, but they aren’t.

I wish I could go back and hug you for all of the times that you help hopeless about your future. I wish I could hold you and let you know that it all turns out okay in the end. I know that you feel that any time failure is a direct reflection of who you are, but they aren’t. Don’t ever look at your shortcomings as failures; they are lessons. Learn what works and what doesn’t work.

I want you to know that this life is for the taking, and that you don’t have to settle. Don’t settle for friends that treat you like crap. Don’t settle for the guy who doesn’t respect you. Don’t settle for a job that you despise going to every day. Please, PLEASE. Don’t settle for anything less than what you deserve.  Because you deserve the world, my dear. And this world is yours to conquer.

I’m going to be completely honest with you here; this is a bullcrap free zone. There are going to be a lot of tough times coming your way soon. Things that you never even imagined are going to eat you alive, spit you out and try to swallow you whole. You have to keep fighting. Hold onto every ounce of courage and fight within you and know that you can make it through. Your freshman year of college is going to be the worst of your life. Even though I know that right now, at the sweet age of 18, you are so incredibly excited to start a new life. But that first year is going to be Hell. Believe it or not, you are going to be very homesick and miss your parents. You are going to get sick and have no one take care of you when you check yourself into the ER. You’re going to miss your high school friends and that old familiar town where everyone knew your name. You know, that town that you cursed you’d never return back to. You are going to wish that you could go back to being 18 just for a little while.

At age 18, year are going to learn some very important lessons. That success doesn’t come easy, and that you have to work for what you want. You will spend hours on end applying for scholarships, even missing out on fun events with your friends because you are stuck in your room writing away. You will think it’s a complete waste of time, but you will be surprised to learn that all of your hard work will result in your tuition being paid for your entire first year of college. It was worth it.

You are going to learn about forgiveness. Some people are extremely cruel-hearted and will aim to destroy you. You will never be able to fully bounce back until you learn to open your heart to forgiveness and move on. You will learn that spending time hating someone is a waste of energy, and that there are better things you could be doing with that energy.

I know at this time that you are still trying to find yourself. You probably want me to tell you that in five years, you will have found yourself. The truth is that I don’t believe you ever will find yourself because Self is an ever-changing concept. Instead of finding yourself, you will learn to love yourself for exactly who you are, no matter who that Self is at the time.

I’m happy to tell you that you will learn to be more confident in yourself. You will dye your hair purple and not care what people think. You will share your writing with others even though it makes you feel extremely vulnerable. You will learn to accept constructive criticism, which was always a huge challenge for you. You will wear those high-heels even though you used to feel silly doing that because you are already very tall. Your junior year of college you will dance on top of a bar with your best friend and have the time of your life. You will be a Maid of Honor and continue a beautiful friendship even after college when you both go your separate ways and live on opposite ends of the country.

Fortunately, despite hardships at the age of 18, the seasons of life are always changing. All of a sudden you are going to wake up 23 and be engaged to someone who loves and respects you more than you could have ever imagined. You are going to find solace living back home in the same place that you once hated at age 18. You are going to become part of a new, incredible family that cherishes every moment with you. You are going to be accepted into grad school for counseling and start a writing career on the side. That was always your dream.

I want you to know that despite what you may think now, everything is going to be okay. You are going to love your life 5 years from now. I’ll admit; nothing is ever picture-perfect, but you will be much more effective with your coping skills. Do you remember back when they used to ask you on your college admission essays, “Where do you want to be 5 years from now?” The answer you wrote back then doesn’t do justice to where you are right now in your life, 5 years later.

It’s better than you could have ever imagined.

Your 23-year old self





  • Dreammerin Dreamm

    Great post! Thanks for sharing!

    • Thanks so much for reading!

  • Veronica Pototska

    Wow! I’ve got shivers from reading it! I wish we could actually receive these type of letters from older ourselves

    • Thank you for saying that. <3 I'm glad you enjoyed it!

  • Colleen C

    Love this! Beautifully written and incredibly mature in grace. I’m so thankful that we’re able to look back at our lives and progress forward with such forgiveness and humble awareness. Right before my daughter’s 1st birthday, I wrote her a “Life’s Wisdom” letter for her to open when she either chooses to go to college or moves to her own place. These letters are incredibly important and I’m thankful that you were open hearted enough to share yours! xoxoxo

    • That is so incredible. You are an amazing mommy. <3

  • Love this, Chelsea! Thanks for being so honest. Not only does this letter to your 18 year old self show how strong and amazing you are, but it also gives us all something to think about as well. It’s always important to remember that we are worthy and we can handle what life throw’s at us– regardless of what it is.

    • Aw Hannah you are so sweet. Thank you for making my day!

  • I love this! Although I’m sure this is very personal, this could seriously be applicable to any18 year old who is getting ready to leave home and venture out on their own. There’s a lot you learn about life and yourself in those first years away from home, and this would definitely be well appreciated advice. Great post!

    • Thank you so much, Cara! I hope it helps someone along the way (:

  • This was a beautiful letter to your 18 year old self! There are a lot of things in this post that i can definitely relate to. Thanks for sharing and being so honest!

    • Thank you so much for reading!

  • This is great Chelsea! I love it :) It’ll be amazing to read this again many years down the road. I did something similar, a letter to my 30 year old self, but I didn’t post it on the blog. Maybe when I’m 30 I’ll post it :) haha

    • You should do it. I’m thinking of writing a letter to my 30 year old self!

  • Kelsie Kleinmeyer

    I always love posts like this. So beautiful. I wrote one to myself in college, so we would have been writing to about the same age “self” of ours.I also had the “don’t settle for a guy” in there. Thank goodness we didn’t!!

    • Thank GOODNESS we didn’t indeed.

  • Purely genious writing! I started reading it and after a while some of the things you’ve mentioned started applying to my life as well. We do have some shared thinking. I’m glad that I read this today. And I will read this every time I feel low. Your writing this post just made my day! Thank you! :)

    • Aw girl!! That is so sweet of you to say! I’m really glad you enjoyed it :)

  • I love posts like this! :) And your letter is wonderful! I love the last few lines. Whenever I’ve written letters to my past self I’ve always realized that I’m not where I thought I would be when I was younger, but that’s not a bad thing at all.

    • No. It’s not a bad thing at all. Sometimes, it’s even more wonderful than you could have planned (:

  • I love this!! I’m 28 and I needed to hear those things!!

    • Thank you so much for reading, Kristen <3

  • It’s beautiful <3 I am 18 years old right now (hah!) and I can totally relate to the problems you've just mentioned. The frustration of applications, scholarship programs, missing out on a lot and the fear of failure. Hashtag story of my life. But you couldn't be more right about the beautiful turn out of all the hard work in future. I can't wait to see what my 23-years-old self would say to me.

    Noor | Noor’s Place

    • Aw! I’m so happy that this post reached you! You seem like a really beautiful woman and I’m sure that your 23-year old self will be proud of you :)

  • Wow, I honestly feel like you’re talking to ME at 18 with this letter! I can relate to this 100%. 18 was a rocky one for me. It was my first broken heart, and that shaped a lot of it. I had similar struggles in college, probably for the same reasons. It’s hard to go from a town where you know literally everyone, to a place where you know so few. Somehow having so many more people around made it lonelier, and I missed my tiny town so much.

    • Isn’t it crazy how you just can’t wait to leave the house and then you end up hating it? That first year was a lot of change and it was hard to adjust.

  • I LOVE reading and writing letters like this because they give us so much perspective not only on how far we’ve come, but how far we will go in the years to come. It’s crazy to think how much more your 28-year-old self will have grown five years from now! That’s what really blows my mind. Beautifully written! :)

    • It’s scary as well!! Thanks for reading, Lauren!! I wonder what that letter will look like.

  • I always love reading these letters, it seems like I can always relate to them. At 18 I had my first real heartbreak and one of the lessons I learned was never settle less than you deserve. I’ve been trying to remember that ever since. There’s a lot of things you don’t really see when you’re 18 that you do now. I think this reflection is always great to do, you realize how far you’ve come & how strong you are. :)

    • It’s funny because when you’re 18 you think you know everything but it’s the farthest thing from that!

  • These are always so interesting to read.
    I may have to do a post like this to my 18 year old self because so much has changed since then.

    xoxo, Jenny

    • You should do it, Jenny!!

  • Ashleigh

    This is really nice… I’d love to write something like this to myself, only at 30. Thank you for sharing these thoughts… they are really relatable!

    • Thank you so much, Ashleigh!!

  • Very nice and a great read. I agree, never to settle for crappy friends!


    • Lesson learned the hard way!

  • Patricia Conte

    Love it! Love your quote about “the seasons of life are always changing,” and the idea that you may end up living back in the town you grew up in and hated :)

    • Exactly (: And now I love it.

  • Wow! No words! This is so true and I’m 27, I know the struggles and have been through them. Love this! Thank you!


    • Thanks for reading, chicka! You are awesome!

  • Aimz Khalid

    awwwwwwwwwwwwwwwww that was sweet !