Letters to yourself, five years ago: Inspired by Frank Ocean

Being present is a key practice of happy people, but when you are moving towards a goal, it’s easy to slip into being future-oriented. Thinking about the future can encourage your to reach goals, and plan for the kind of reality that you want, but it can also produce anxiety, fearful thinking, and make you lose perspective of the progress you’ve made.

Frank Ocean, a member of Odd Future and one of the most unique, talented and promising song-writers in the industry right now, posted a conversation he would have with his five-years ago self if he could.

I like  this because it helps us gain perspective of how far we have come, and how far we can still go. It’s also a reminder of how quickly things can change.

A letter to my 23-year-old self would look something like this:

Dear C,

Where to start? The grad program is cool, but it will not have the purpose in your life that you think it will. You already sense this though, so just trust your instincts. Also, you’re not going to marry him, and it’s for the best. You already have a sense of this too though. Keep writing. Don’t try to qualify it or tie it into a “real” career path, just keep doing it. You can make a living off of your obsessions and fascinations, but it will be another few years before you fully let go and do it. The urge to switch gears will become stronger down the road. You are not a flake, and you’re not having a “quarter-life crisis.” You know what you want, it’s just that your ability to suck it up and do work that doesn’t inspire you or call on your strengths is dwindling. The missteps weren’t missteps after all. It was all a part of the plan. Right now you are happy, in love, healthy, and busy. Fear will become like a pebble in your shoe, not anything like the rock in your stomach it is now. You are in the neural zone now, the “in-between time.” You will come out. And life will be great.

What letter would you write to yourself, five years ago? Send me a link to it, or write it in the comments section.


9 thoughts on “Letters to yourself, five years ago: Inspired by Frank Ocean

  1. writing to myself… – mydearadia

    […] I’ve noticed a few folks writing letters to their five years ago self.  Freedom Reeves did one over on her blog a couple weeks ago in response to Frank Ocean’s letter to […]


  2. # FreedomSongs2013 Day Five: Dontcha Love The Internet? - Freedom Reeves | Freedom Reeves

    […] discussed my fandom of Odd Future as a collective in previous posts (here, here and here), and with 2013′s Feel Good, Odd Future’s resident DJ, producer and […]


  3. Angel Blanca


    You’ve been struggling with what it means to live with MS, but that struggle will take a sharp turn very soon. The most important thing to remember is you are NOT defined by what you can or cannot do, but by WHO YOU ARE! MS doesn’t change your heart, your mind, or your capacity to affect and infect the world. Don’t give in to the depression. You are still an amazing woman, with so much to offer all those you come in contact with.

    Depression is a very real animal, but you don’t have to give in to it. Begin now to create a web of support that does not include your students, co-workers, or family; you need an outlet to ensure you remain true to who you are and the dreams you hold for yourself. Also, if you don’t keep moving, you’ll find that you have a very difficult time doing so and losing weight as you move past 40. Invest in a gym membership today, and you’ll hit your target by the time you’re mid-way through that fourth decade of life.

    Finally, take chances!! Don’t let that one who attracts you get away because you think you might lose the one who you’re around all the time; you don’t have to doubt the attraction is mutual, or wonder if you’ll be thought less of by anyone because they won’t be there for you when you need them down the road. It’s better to follow your heart, here and in other situations. So, apply for that PhD program, let Kervin know you find him utterly fascinating, and practice self-care in every area; push those boundaries and get out of the box in which you’ve settled for so long…you deserve it.

    Finally (and, yes, I know I did that already), increase your contribution to your IRA; double it, in fact, as you’ll be pulling money out to send the offspring to college…a private university…to study film, writing, and photography…with their own expenses. It’ll be worth it, but it won’t be easy or cheap. Her dreams should soar unencumbered…and you can help that happen.


    1. Free Reeves

      Thank you for sharing this. I’ve dealt with depression in the past as well. It’s funny, as I was writing to my former self, I had forgotten about the depression. Something shifted somewhere between ending grad school and quitting my first “real” job. I get “down” every now and then, but it doesn’t feel hopeless anymore. Wow.


  4. Cheryl


    You are in love but it will not be forever. You will not gt married to him. Care about you. Figure you out. Don’t worry so much about how you will be remembered by others if you choose not to fully focus on what they want you to focus on. Write. WRiTe. wRiTe. WRITE. do what you love-enroll in law school-Still WRITE. Do not lose sight of your goals. You will pay for each decision you make-you will regret not taking chances. Believe in yourself, face your fears head on. Let go of him & think about you. Life is not all about “fixing people” “helping people” fix you-help you THEN lend a hand to someone else. Regain control.

    I absolutely loved this exercise!! Check out my blog @ mymindisurz@blogspot.com @Shesamovement on Twitter. Let me know what u think 🙂


    1. Free Reeves

      “Life is not all about fixing people.” How much better we are once we let this sink in. Thanks for sharing sis. I’m checking out your blog now 🙂


  5. Free Reeves

    Thanks for that Brian. It can feel good to give our formers selves a stern talking to 🙂


  6. Brian Lee


    I know this city, this program, this part of the country where you find yourself is a hostile place, but you will rise above. You can’t blame yourself for this bad fit. How could you have known? Find comfort in the small places filled with green light, incense smoke, orange paint, and jazz rhythms.

    Keep writing and reading-Sonya Sanchez and Ani Difranco will guide you through.

    Just go ahead and pay for that Ben Harper ticket, the experience will take you closer to the divine better than any church service has in the past few years.

    You want to leave your program and not look back. You know you want different things than your classmates. Finish what you started. Let this inform you and not alienate you from them. You’re still on that journey as I write to you. Culture. Art. Diaspora. Those are the keys to our future.

    Stop ditching class, you’ll ruin your 4.0 average because of your attendance. Seriously.

    Speak when spoken to and don’t be easily offended. Learn to accept your preference for solitude.

    Cultivate your sensitivity into a tool for healing. It is strength.

    Don’t quit the research job. Practice some radical acceptance with it.

    Yes, you are depressed. Get out of bed now.


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