To My 20-Year Old Self, A Recent Graduate. A Letter from the Future.

Dear young Mailan,

Congratulations on your thesis! Congratulations on finishing school. You have shown great perseverance and fortitude. I look back at that moment and I still feel proud of you. The years ahead will be challenging, as is always the case when one is starting out, but these experiences will build your character. You will turn out to be a happy, witty, and classy woman that I am today. There is nothing to worry about.


open letter to self recent graduate, open letter to younger self, open letter to 20 year old self

This is you, moving out of Elbi after four years and 2 months. This photo is taken by your kid cousin Red. His father, a distant relative, owns the rented van. Daddy’s helping you to move out.


At 21

For several months, you’ll work 12 hours a day. You’ll work even on Saturdays. You’ll work many unpaid hours to increase your productivity and to rack up experience. You’ll be at the top of your game but this will take its toll. Very soon, you will resign. But you will have learned a trade. You’ll find this trade useful many times in the future. You will also have learned tact.

You’ll then get your first teaching job. You’ll be happy, but you’ll leave anyway. Things will be even more tight. You’ll be at the right direction. Carry on.


At 22

Reluctantly, you will drop out of graduate school and you’ll get a job. You’ll work under horrible conditions with horrible people, and it’ll create a bigger void inside. But here, you will learn your advanced grammar, a valuable skill that will benefit you in both career and craft for years to come. Here is where you’ll look back at during your most trying times, reminding yourself that you’ve already hit rock bottom. There’s nothing else you can’t overcome.

You’ll meet a guy and he’ll make you feel alive, and he’ll make you feel reciprocated. You’ll think he is the best, but he’ll break you in ways that can never be fixed. He’ll teach you to stay away from bad news. He’ll teach you you can’t save a broken one. I still think about him everyday. No, I don’t want him back.

Finally, you’ll get the job that you want. Unrelated past events, you will find out, connect with each other in the future.


At 23

Students will shock you. Faculty will shock you. The education system will shock you. You’ll struggle in your first year and you’ll feel ashamed of being young and new. But you’ll work twice as hard and you’ll show them dedication they haven’t seen in a long while. Most days are satisfying. You will find a family and a home at work.

Here you will learn eloquence, efficiency, and balance.


At 24

This will be the best of times and this will be the worst of times. Your work best friend will come into your life. You’ll find friends in some students. You’ll try to fall in love again, but you will end up hurting yourself and hurting someone else.

People will cover up their blunder by chipping at your creed. You’ll lose your faith in teaching. You’ll recognize the first symptoms of depression, so you’ll leave. This time, you’ll know how to carry your pains better. You’ll be out there, trying new things and gaining new insights. Here you will start a blog. Here you will achieve clarity and inner peace.


At 25

You’ll be back at teaching. You will have become a changed person. People will continue to disappoint, but you will know how to respond with grace and humor. A major plan won’t come true. You will have invested a lot in it before realizing that deep down, it’s not what you really want. You’ll leave teaching again. You’ll shift to a new industry. You’ll find a job you’ll fall in love with at first sight.

Here you will learn to listen closely to your heart. Here you will learn openness to change and change of plans.



You might ask me if there’s anything that I’d like you to change in the last five years. My answer: There is none.

Your first five years after college is a time for you to try things out, to find out what works and what you really want, and to build character. You don’t have to get things right the first time, and that is how you will grow. Carry on. Everything will turn out just fine.


Older Mailan
26 years and 3 days old
Witty, classy, happy

P.S. I’m prettier than you. 🙂


2 thoughts on “To My 20-Year Old Self, A Recent Graduate. A Letter from the Future.

  1. Ate! Super loving this letter. Reading this letter feels like giving an advice to fresh graduates like me. I’m glad you were able to conquer this tough life. Belated happy birthday!! ❤ BTW I really like the composition of your sentences. Writer na writer ang datingan haha ❤



  2. “I’m prettier than you.” Loveeeeet. Own how much better we look post-college, despite gaining a little bit of weight! Yeah college me was thinner but working girl/grad student me has great eyebrows and takes better care of her skin so who’s the real winner here? 😉


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