The 15 -Year-Old Birthday Letter From Me To Me

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So when I was 15 I wrote a letter to myself, sealed it with wax (because I loved the drama) and wrote that I should not open it till my 30th birthday. Well as of Monday I turned 30 and had a great deal of anticipation about what exactly my 15-year-old self had to say…

It was quite emotional to finally be able to open it and I was a little scared to be honest. I had kept it in my old NRA folder (National Record of Achievement not National Rifles Association!) and pretty much forgot about it over the years. Then I stumbled upon it last year and realised it wasn’t long till I would be able to open it… At last, Monday August 22 2011 arrived and it was like an alarm went off in my head as I realised the day was finally here.

So I dug out the letter and carried it around with me waiting for the right moment to open it, which uneventfully turned out to be outside a Tesco’s in Piccadilly Circus (the suspense appeared to be killing both my mum and sister who couldn’t wait any longer).

I won’t post you all the details but in summary after I wish myself a very happy birthday in my best squirly and romantic handwriting I go on to:

  • congratulate myself for being an “award winning journalist”.
  • hope I got a wonderful prezzie from my boyfriend
  • ask whether I’m in touch with several school and church friends
  • remind myself to start planning on getting married and having kids “in the next decade”. I actually say “before you turn 40 eh!”
  • Warn myself that I better not still be eating chocolate

I actually laughed out loud when I read it. I know I was quite opinionated as a teenager but it’s a bit surreal to come face-to-face with your teenage self wagging a long finger at you and prodding at your life.

Much of my anxiety before opening it was that I suddenly felt accountable to my 15-year-old self. Had I achieved my goals? Would I be a disappointment having done nothing I had hoped to do at that age?


  • I may not be an award winning journalist but fortunately I was nominated for a Precious Award for my blog and am currently working quite happily as an online community manager. Ultimately that’s all I’ve ever wanted is to feel happy and successful in a career I’m confident in so haven’t done too bad in that regard.
  • No boyfriend so no special boyfriend prezzie. Sorry little Harlem
  • Thanks to Facebook I’m still connected with 8 of the 9 friends I mentioned in my letter. Even got invited to one of their weddings next year!
  • As for planning my own wedding one day… Name it and claim it sister! Can I get an amen?
  • Chocolate is the one exception where I do deserve a scalding given I’m currently staring at an empty pot of Pret’s 5000-to-infinity calorie Chocolate Moose Pot. I enjoyed every mouthful too. Big Harlem is so baaad.

Anyway, I’m really glad I took the time to do that and I think I set myself quite sensible ambitions which I haven’t gone to far off from overall. I’ll probably do another two letters this year. One for when I turn 40 and another for when I’m 60. I already have such romantic notions of what I’d like my life to be like when I’m 60 so it would be interesting to see if it matches up or goes beyond.

Amongst many other things, I'm a 30-something contemplative Londoner making the daily commute between contentment and ambition.When not blogging, I'm using my talents for good as communications director at Gingerland and co-founder of Love Harlem.


  • Reply August 25, 2011


    Harlem this is a lovely blog post. I love the fact you wrote a letter to yourself!!
    I don’t even know if I thought that far ahead when I was 15!

  • This is adorable!

    I think you’re doing pretty well for yourself, boyfriend or not lol!

    Are you writing another letter for another milestone birthday?

    Oh and belated happy 30th!!


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