These were the instructions we received from our Outward Bound instructors on the last full day of our trip: “You will hike to the top of this mountain today, over rocks and up vertical surfaces. When you are at the top, we will have Solo Time, where each of you will find a spot to yourself and write yourself a letter that only you will read. We will collect the letters, and in 6 months we will mail them to you.”
I hiked to the top of Table Mountain, sat on a rock, and wrote a letter to myself…
First of all, HAPPY BIRTHDAY! You’re/I’m 31 today, and I am so proud of you! You are at the tip top of a mountain, a mountain that you hiked to the top of! Can you believe it? The Outward Bound trip is such a big step for you. The old you would have created a million reasons why you couldn’t go, but you are here, looking at a mountain side that is halfway covered with a thin layer of fog, countless trees…it is absolutely breathtaking! You pushed yourself today, probably more than you pushed yourself in a long time…so much so that you got a headache, became nauseous, and threw up right before SOLO TIME! You should have been drinking more water…shame on you. You know this; you need it! If, 6 months from now, you still aren’t drinking water to help your headaches, you START NOW!
The trip has been amazing so far; you don’t mind trying new things, and you’ve finally pushed yourself to do it. Do more! Be adventurous! Seize the day! Don’t let anything hold you back. You are amazing and the Super Woman you think you are! I think you wait on others to give you the green light to be yourself, and that means you’ll be waiting forever. I would definitely say thinking of [your boyfriend] helped you get through the ropes course, but you got yourself through today. You can do that everyday!
Speaking of [your boyfriend], since this is 6 months later, if you aren’t engaged, you should be. If you don’t have a dog, get one. Stop bad habits, if you still have them. They are no good for you…
In 6 months (or earlier), I want to…
- Plan a Spring Break camping trip.
- Have money…clear the debt! Nice clothes and shoes are great, but being out here shows you that you don’t need it.
- Get a puppy!
- See my parents more often.
- Send my parents money…they took care of you…you owe them.
- Decide on a different career.
- Get engaged. It’s now or never!
- Cherish true friends.
At this point, you are going to nap…gotta get that in before the climb down! How many people can say they slept on the top of a mountain!
On my birthday, I didn’t make the decision to provide my then boyfriend with an ultimatum. I never even told him about that letter. Today, I look at the letter I wrote myself as a proclamation that being married to him is what I wanted. Up until this time, I had been “shy” about where our relationship was heading. People would ask, “When are ya’ll getting married?” Or they would say, “It’s about time.” I would always respond sheepishly with nonchalant answers: “Maybe one day” or “If it’s meant to be, it will be.” I would always be sure to add, “…but I’m not rushing it.”
On this mountaintop is the first time I put it into the universe that I wanted the marriage, that I was yearning to be his wife. I finally admitted to myself that this was going to be – sooner rather than later.
I returned home the next day, the day after I wrote this letter, covered in dirt, sweat, and pure earthly funk. When my boyfriend opened the door, I expected my birthday gift, in the form of a sweet little puppy, to come running to the door to greet me. Instead, I walked into a room of sweet-smelling roses, lit candles, a warm bubble bath, a dinner outfit all picked out, and a proposal. He got down on his knee, pulled out the most stunning ring I’ve ever seen, and asked me to be his wife.
I, of course, said yes.
Six months later, the letter I had written myself on the mountaintop came in the mail. It was nice to be able to check off the engagement bullet. Maybe if I had been less nonchalant when people asked, it would have come sooner. Maybe. Maybe not.
The next time I want something, I will remember to tell it on the mountain.