This past weekend I was home in California and one of my major tasks was cleaning out a huge bookshelf in my room at my parents’ home. This was the room that I grew up in from 8th grade onwards, so the bookshelves were PACKED with stuff. I found school photos from kindergarten onwards, tons of picture books that I wrote and illustrated from elementary school and middle school (I used to write stories for fun in my spare time…yup), class notes from high school, college, medical school, and letters from friends. I even found notes and letters written to me in Chinese from my grandparents, all of whom passed away in recent years (how I coped with their deaths here and here), which were really precious. While going through one of my letter boxes, I found a letter that I wrote to myself to be opened the day before Stanford University early decision was released. I don’t remember writing this letter to myself but going through it I kind of teared up a little because this was a very very nervous 17-year old Joyce writing a letter to A) boost my wavering confidence in myself and B) to reassure myself that no matter WHAT happened over the next few days, I needed to love myself. I realized this message applies to everyone out there going through any sort of application process. I could have read this same exact letter to myself when applying for medical school or for dermatology, which you know was a tumultuous time. In a funny way I wish I had read it again and again, if only to just remind myself that all these other things do not define my self worth. Because the message is so universally applicable, I wanted to share it here with you today (slightly edited for privacy):
I can’t imagine what you must be feeling right now. One of 2 extremes…just 24-48 hours from now I’ll know where I’ll probably spend the next 4 years of my life. It’s scary, and I’m antsy as hell right now. But I digress. The point of this letter is to remind YOU (circled) how insanely wonderful you (circled) already are, regardless of Stanford’s decision. You are smart, talented, motivated, well-loved, and beautiful. No college’s decision can take that away from you because it is a part of who you are.
(then I write out a list of what I think are my top qualities)
You are so blessed with a family who loves you so much and friends who make you smile. Through these years you have grown so much, maybe not physically 😛 but in the ways of life, love, seflessness, responsibility…First and foremost, love yourself.
Lastly, God has a greater plan for you already formed in His head; remember He loves you and wants the best for you as you open that envelope.
I can’t believe I had the maturity to write something like that as a teenager, and I’m actually really glad I found it again to read as an adult. If you are feeling overwhelmed or doubting yourself, write yourself a letter. List out the things you love about yourself. And read it again and again. I’ve always been critical of myself, demonstrated by my fall anxiety post last week, but reading this letter made me realize I’ve been working on self love all along.