You’re thirteen right now. And you are having a really bad day.
You are sad, moody, and you think everything in the world is against you.
You didn’t know what to do with these feelings. You tried venting to mom, but it didn’t help.
So you were struck by an impulse. You sat down and wrote a poem. It wasn’t a very good poem. But you put a lot of heart into it.
Your poem was super meta. (That’s a slang word that won’t take on much meaning for you for at least another decade). You, a sad teenager, wrote a poem about a sad teenager.
And the sad teenager in your poem sat down to write a letter to himself in the future.
Yeah. A sad teenager writing a poem about a sad teenager writing a letter to himself. Super meta.
You still won’t get that, but trust me, it is.
The sad teenager in your poem wrote a letter about how he was feeling. About how he wasn’t sure about anything in life. About how he was sad.
The letter asked the questions: will I ever be successful? Will I ever find love? Will I succeed in the things I want to do in life?
Do the things I want to do in life even matter? Are they worth it?
Fifteen years later, in your poem, a man tucked his kids into bed. Then he kissed his wife good night, stepped out of the house, and got in his car.
He drove to a house he lived in as a boy. And he went to a tree in the back yard, and he dug a hole in a spot only he would know.
From the hole he pulled a letter, packed in a Ziploc bag. He got back in his car, and he drove home again.
In the kitchen of his nice home, he pulled out the letter and began to read. And he smiled as he remembered himself as a teenager, so young and full of life and passion.
But when he got to the dark parts of the letter, the parts where a young boy began to question the point of it all…he started to cry.
Every word was like a knife, because he remembered the pain of them. Each sentence and each paragraph stabbed at his heart. And he sat there alone in his home and cried for the young, pain-stricken man that he used to be.
When he was done, he went to his office and pulled out a piece of paper. He uncapped a pen, and he began to write a letter back to himself—that sixteen-year-old boy he used to be.
And the letter started with the simple words, “It will all be all right.”
To my sixteen-year-old self: I didn’t keep that poem. It might be somewhere in Dad’s house, but I wouldn’t know where to look.
All I remember is that it wasn’t very good, but it was important to you at the time.
And I’m not going to write you a letter now. I don’t have any stamps. They’re not really a thing any more. And I can’t write you an email, because you don’t use that yet.
But if I could tell you any one thing, now, it would be just that: “It will all be all right.”
You have it pretty good. And the things you’re going through as a teenager are necessary.
You’re going to see so many amazing sights, and do things you don’t yet know you’re capable of.
You’re going to help earthquake victims in Haiti and share drinks with film producers in Wellington, New Zealand. You probably don’t know where New Zealand is on a map, but you will when a certain film comes out next year.
Work harder to recognize the things that are good, and try not to focus on the things that don’t go your way.
One day you’ll be living in a good house—not a great one, but a nice one. You’ll have a beautiful wife, and three beautiful kids, and you will love all of them more than anything you could have ever imagined.
And you will be making a living as an author and a filmmaker. And you’ll be making videos on YouTube that people, for some reason, will actually want to watch.
What’s YouTube? Don’t worry about it. You’ll find out someday, and it will be awesome.
You’re going to be fine. You’re going to do well. You might not ever become a millionaire, but you will come to realize that that’s not what’s important to you anyway.
Don’t ever give up. Try harder in the face of opposition, because only by breaking through barriers will you improve things—and realize how good things were for you in the first place.
You’re a lucky person. Don’t take it for granted. Use it to help others whenever you can.
And most importantly: It will all be all right. You will be all right.