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Dear Future Self - Pauletta Hansel


Dear Future Self

by Pauletta Hansel

It’s hard to imagine a life that I may lead.  

It’s hard to imagine the unknown. 

Over time I’ve learned that you cannot grow a tree  

without knowing the roots. 

Are you back to your old self? 

Are you having fun like you used to? 

I wonder every day how my life is going to turn out. 

Does everything end up better or do things get worse? 

I know how scared you were. 

I hope you remember all the wild and crazy dreams you once had. 

I hope that by some chance, one day I will stumble back onto this 

 and see we have made it to our dreams and beyond. 

We’ve made it through some pretty rough times. 

At 15, you know we have been fighting for what we love. 

Please don’t give up.  

We’ve done that in the past but we better not do that again. 

Fight until you can’t fight anymore and after that, fight harder. 

Stay on that grind. You will succeed. 

You will graduate. 

You will go to college. 

You will innovate, 

create a piece of the future. 

Don’t overthink it. 

Don’t be afraid. 

Don’t be choosing clout. 

Keep your real friends close and let the fake ones go. 

I know you have a desire to be you, 

and speak out. 

Be different, and be a light to others. 

Always try your best and believe in you. 

You’ll surely be the greatest. 

Always stay strong and strive for the greatness you can achieve. 

Dear future self, be better. 

Focus on the things that are going to lead you to success. 

Appreciate everything, never give up. 

Learn from your mistakes. 

Never stop doing what you love. 

I know things might be difficult. 

Don’t forget that it’s never too late. 

Make your own choice in life; it’s yours, not theirs. 

Don’t let people get to you. 

Life can also get very aggravating.  

Just take a deep breath and think of the positive things. 

But most importantly, remember who you were  

and who you are and who you are to become. 

Make sure to follow your dreams  

and when you achieve them,  

dream even bigger. 

Don’t let anyone distract you from that. 

Don’t let your memes be dreams. 

Keep your head held high for us. 

We are strong. 

We are smart. 

We can do anything. 

I know your younger self is a little shy. 

Don’t forget me. 

Never forget the land to which you first belonged, 

because it is your home.  

It’s like a mother looking after her children,  

and she will always find you,  

even when you can’t find yourself. 


I will catch up with you later. 

Good luck, future self. 



Your Past Self 


And maybe have a dog, but no rush.  

What would you tell your future self? What hopes and dreams do you not want to forget? Conversely, if you could go back and give your younger self advice and encouragement for the future, what would it be? 

Ms. Coomer’s Second Period AP English (Breathitt High School) with Pauletta Hansel (Our Breathitt artist)  

This column is brought to you by Our Breathitt, a community arts and health experience bringing together artists and Breathitt Countians from across Kentucky. Project is organized with IDEAS xLab (an artist-led nonprofit), and supported by the National Endowment for the Arts. Starting in August 2019, five collaborating writers, each with their own perspectives and ties to the county, will offer weekly columns and audio stories for radio and podcasts. Contact us at 859-397-1317 to join this conversation by leaving a voicemail with your response to the questions we raise and adding thoughts of your own! You may hear your responses incorporated into future posts and narratives! You can also email at We hope you will mark your calendars and join us at the Our Breathitt Summit, October 11-12 in Jackson, Kentucky. Information at