**Content warning: This is one person’s story; everyone will have unique experiences in recovery and beyond. Some stories may mention eating disorder thoughts, behaviors, and symptoms. Please use your discretion when reading and speak with your support system as needed.
While navigating her own recovery journey at The Emily Program, Teresa Schmitz discovered a hidden gift in being known as a great listener with a compassionate heart. Being earmarked as an IT Leader who was more into the people on her teams than the technology they were building, she realized her purpose was beyond her title. She connected the dots and soon realized her purpose was to help empower others. She pursued her dreams of becoming a coach and launched her own coaching business, My Best Self Yet. She now helps women feel empowered to navigate the journey of loving themselves unconditionally. She also empowers others to know and use their character strengths in the In It Together group coaching program. Learn more about Teresa’s story and follow My Best Self Yet on Facebook, Instagram, and her blog.
A tradition of mine was started on August 13, 2017. That was about a week shy of when my daughter was heading off to college for the first time and moving away from home. It was also a little more than two months shy of my official eating disorder diagnosis.
At that time in my life, I was struggling with not only my eating disorder (unbeknownst to me at the time), but also underlying depression and anxiety. It was a time when I tried hard to find small bits of hope in the everyday of life yet would come up short many days due to the depression and loud eating disorder. That summer, I had been painfully counting down the days until my daughter would leave (as if my life would stop when she did), rather than counting up the hours I had with her in the present moment. I was finding all the things “wrong” rather than all the blessings I had. To say it was a tough time in my life is an understatement.
Yet that day, four years ago, was the day I decided to write myself a letter. I had never written myself a letter before. On that particular August day, I decided that I wanted to spend the next year, while my daughter was away at college, becoming more resilient because I felt aimless and unsure of where I was headed. I had no idea that it would then become an annual tradition.
That first year I wrote, I told my future self that fear was currently the thing holding me back. I vowed that I was “going after what I want, which is a soul-fed life full of love, joy, and happiness.”
The ironic thing about that first letter is that much of what I wrote I wanted to accomplish came true in that first year. It was ironic because it was almost as if my soul knew I had an eating disorder and needed help and this letter was forecasting what was needed. As I closed out my letter, I said, “When you read this on August 13, 2018, you are going to smile and just enjoy what you see and feel in your life. Here’s what I envision:
- Meditation will be a daily habit
- Yoga will be a weekly habit
- Living in the present moment will be a little easier than today
- Your resilience muscle will be stronger
- You’ll feel happy
- You’ll be closer to your career that’s soul-fed
- You’ll have completed a retreat somewhere
- You’ll offer love to yourself on good days and bad days.”
I finalized that letter with “You’re going to be proud of who you are in a year! I can’t wait to read this letter in a year and celebrate!”
The following year, on August 13, 2018, the opening line of my letter, after addressing it My Dearest Teresa, was “You have so much to be proud of!” Last year, in 2020, I recognized how much my eating disorder diagnosis was truly a gift. It was a gift because I got to heal myself, make new dear friends, and learn how to love myself and my body as if my life depended on it, because it does.
Writing a letter to my future self has become an annual tradition—something I look forward to year over year. I’m always fascinated by how much of what I write in the letter actually comes true. It’s fascinating to me because I don’t read the letters in between the year and I don’t write down what I say anywhere else. It’s almost like my soul knows what to write and then also what to incorporate and make happen.
What will you write to your future self today?