Professor Joshua Belknap | Co Req ML | Fall 2023

11/6/23: Letter to Past Self or from Future Self11/6/23:

Write a letter to your past self or from your past or future self. Or just make a list of what would want to convey. This is your self, so take whatever approach suits you. You might consider, though, talking to your self kindly, as you would to a friend or younger sibling whose development you want to foster. Think about the rhetorical features of a personal letter when you write (but also consider the fact that the actual audience will be your professor and classmates, as you’ll be posting the letter on OpenLab) too.

Knowing what you know now—as a reader, writer, and student—what would you tell your self of the recent past? (perhaps your pre-pandemic self, your self from the beginning of college or from before some other turning point) What advice would you give to your earlier self to cope with challenges and achieve your goals at CUNY and beyond? What has your present self learned that would be useful to your past self?

Now, imagine your near-future self (perhaps from the end of the semester or as you graduate from NYCCT) looking back at you now. What do you hope he/she/they will say to you? What do you predict will be useful to impart to your present self? What do you hope they’ll be thanking you for?

Or perhaps your past self has some wisdom or admiration for you. What would he/she/they have to say? How might your past self be of service to you now?

Post here in the comment section. If you have any questions, let me know.


  1. Fairlay

    To my recent past self, there will be a pandemic at around the start of 2020 that will shut everything off. It will be really hard for you and everyone but make sure to stay strong throughout it and also stay physically active. This pandemic will last around a year but I’m sure in the end, nothing about you will drastically change. Finally, make sure to keep up the good work at school even though you will work from home and start making your mind up about what you want to do with your life. Do not wait until it is too late to decide your future.

  2. Jguarango21

    Letter to Past Self or from Future Self

    Dear Joann (2018)

    At that moment you had just started your freshman year of high school and you told yourself from here on out it would be the best years of high school no matter what.  New classmates after almost 3 years with the same people felt like a new chapter in life. Little did you know it would be the beginning of the end. So, what exactly happens, you meet a lot of cool friends and a girl but at that point, you never were really satisfied with yourself no matter what. Was self-care an option back then? Nope, I thought I looked just fine however I was.  You should’ve been taking care of yourself way before, but did you care, nope. In other words, take care of yourself and learn how to program, it doesn’t matter what language you learn just learn it. You will have a pandemic in which you will have online classes for a year and a half, you will create a bond with people you thought you hated. Fast forward you transfer school to one in the city. You will learn to be yourself instead of pretending to be someone. You will find your people, create relationships with professors, go to parties, excel in classes, and graduate as Top 5 in your class. All you need to do is focus on yourself and work hard. Not only that but you must also know that after high school you take a gap year due to financial difficulties. Things go downhill from here starting by ending a relationship and moving to a different country. But don’t worry, you begin college, and things seem to get better momentarily. As there are still difficulties.


    What do you hope he/she/they will say to you? What do you predict will be useful to impart to your present self? What do you hope they’ll be thanking you for?

    I hope to see myself graduating from Baruch College and hopefully with a bachelor’s degree in CST. After all those 4 years of suffering it was worth it. I’ll be thankful for the knowledge and for never giving up.

    Or perhaps your past self has some wisdom or admiration for you. What would he/she/they have to say? How might your past self be of service to you now?

    Understand that no one is here for you, it’s all you who must survive. Happiness does not come from someone else but from you. Be patient.


  3. Jimin Yoon

    To my past self: I would tell myself when I was 12 years old to start studying and stop playing games. I remember when I was young I used to sleep late playing games, and thinking I could study when I’m older and postpone it to the future. However, like any lazy person, I never studied like I had to, and wasted all my time watching YouTube. To my past self, I would tell myself to use the phone at a certain time. Second, I would not take naps after school and do something when I was sleeping after school, and also I realized earlier that being lazy damages a lot of things in life, and for the small time I used to play I could benefit myself by enjoying something. I regret realizing that lazy can ruin your life, and lose a lot of chances. 

  4. xin chen

    Hi, I’m you from 18 years old and now you’re finally free to have everything you ever wanted.I’m finally dependent now and earn a lot of money to feed my self. I know right now you must be tired, depressed, and want to run away, but I want to tell you to take your time and what you need to do is to be strong and put in endless effort to get what you want. Compared with others, we are not lucky, there are not so many choices in our life, we are always in the limited choices to make the best choice. But don’t be discouraged, don’t be cynical, treat everything with a normal heart, love yourself, and believe that there is a light waiting for you in front of you no matter what, me,and the future of you will always be here to protect and encourage you.

  5. Daria

    • Dear Past Me,

    Looking back at your pre-pandemic self, I see a person who always made thoughtful decisions. You had a strong sense of what was right for you, and that has guided you well. While I may not have advice to drastically change your path, there are a few insights from our journey that I’d like to share.

    Firstly, cherish the moments with your family and friends even more. The distance you felt back then was just a prelude to the challenges of complete separation. It’s heartwarming to know that you adapted and maintained those connections despite the physical distance.

    Your decision to set goals for that challenging year was a stroke of brilliance. Reading 100 books, learning English, and prioritizing your health were ambitious but worthwhile endeavors. Thanks to your dedication, I can now study in English, my health is in excellent condition, and the knowledge gained from those books has broadened my understanding of the world.

    So, dear past self, thank you for your resilience and determination. You never gave up, and because of that, I am where I am today.

    With gratitude,


    • Dear Future Me,

    I hope you’re looking back on this moment with a sense of accomplishment and growth. Right now, I’m working hard to complete my education at CityTech and prepare for the future. I hope you’ll be proud of the dedication and effort I’m putting into my studies. I also hope you can see the value in the challenges and learning experiences I’m facing today. Please remember the resilience it took to overcome obstacles and the joy of discovering new knowledge.

    Thank you for your patience and persistence in pursuing our goals. I trust that you’ve continued to build on the foundation I’m laying today, and I hope you’re enjoying the benefits of our hard work. Keep pushing forward and making the most of every opportunity.

    With gratitude,


  6. Rojina

    Until a year later. How are you a year from now, today is Monday 6/11, how are you? Is this your effort in learning the English language? Were you able to pass the basic stage of learning a second language? Did you give your best? I know that you are a smart and hardworking girl, but our dream awaits hard work. Were you able to pass this period or are you still working on it? Will you enter the specialty that you have dreamed of for years, my girl? Today we started a new life in the first field of my dream to study in the field of mathematics. You know, my soul, how many difficulties we faced to reach that day, but I was able to overcome all those difficult situations. I apologize to myself for the many difficult days I have exhausted you with, but I promise you that one day will come when you will enjoy unparalleled comfort. Be patient with me a little as you have endured a lot. I would like to thank you for all your efforts and your tolerance of the difficulties and challenges we are experiencing. In conclusion, I would like to tell you a message for your future. future, you are in the world of the unseen. I will not deal with dreams and I will not sell myself into illusions. I will not rush into a missing birth because tomorrow is nothing because it was not created and because it was not mentioned.

  7. Emely

    Dear Past Self,

    I hope this letter finds you well and in good spirits. I know that you are embarking on a new and exciting chapter of your life, full of possibilities and challenges. I want to share some insights and advice that I have gained over the years since we moved to a new place, hoping it will help you on the path ahead with more confidence and clarity. First and foremost, be kind to yourself. You tend to be your own harshest critic, and while striving for excellence is admirable, it’s important not to let self-criticism hinder your progress, I been working on it here in the present, believe me is worth it. Remember that making mistakes is an essential part of learning and growing. Don’t feel embarrase usted get up and do better those moments of failure are sometimes opportunities for growth and improvement.

    As you begin your journey at CUNY and beyond, remember the power of resilience. Life can be unpredictable, as you’ve experienced during the pandemic and other turning points. The ability to adapt and persevere in the face of adversity is a valuable skill. Don’t be discouraged by setbacks, but use them as stepping stones to achieve your goals. College can be overwhelming and personal life can be challenging. Create a schedule that allows for both productivity and self-care. Don’t procrastinate; please it only adds unnecessary stress and I hate it. Prioritize more your tasks. I know you don’t like back there ask for help and here in the present I either like it but Seek help and support when needed. Don’t be afraid to ask questions. Never stop learning and exploring. The world is vast, and the knowledge you gain. Stay curious, read widely, and engage with diverse perspectives. It’s through continuous learning that you’ll grow not only as a student but as a person. Be you and only you, you got this!!

    For near-future self. I hope that you’ll look back on this time with pride and gratitude im doing my best so you can be proud of me. I hope you’ll thank your present self for the determination, resilience, and the ability to embrace challenges. Remember that the struggles you face today are shaping the successful person you’ll become tomorrow don’t forget it, you can do it even though you think you can. As for your past self, know that they look up to you with admiration. They appreciate the lessons you’ve learned, the growth you’ve achieved, and the goals you’ve reached. Your past self is proud of the choices you’ve made and the person you’ve become. Believe in yourself, stay true to your values, and keep working towards your dreams. The journey may have its ups and downs for you, but it’s in those moments that you discover your true potential.

    Your Present Self,


  8. marylin

      As the future begins approaching, there are certain things that will change, especially with your own decisions you’ve planned all along. Which is completely normal and it will occur at any other moment. Now that you’re entering college it pretty much depends all on yourself, you’re in charge of your own choices and becoming more independent, which you’ve always wanted. My advice to you is to really put in effort with what you’re doing this goes for all your classes that you’ll take for now on, even the exams please take it seriously, moreover, try to make time from both your personal and college life, this might be confusing however despite your “soon to be busy schedule” and work, you should try to make time around friends and family, for own experiences. Overall, do any accomplishments you want to achieve starting at this current moment and make many experiences, it’ll be 100% worth it, good luck.

  9. Fernando Fernandez

    To myself from highschool, who didn’t pay attention in class and was just having fun with friends but he loved to study and if he paid attention he would’ve been really smart.

    Last year of highschool he wanted to go to college but didn’t know what to study because everything was boring for him and he didn’t know about anything or how to do anything.

    To my past self

    Now I chose to study architecture and I really like it, although I don’t know much about math, I know the basics and I learn fast so I’m studying hard to learn and you should’ve done better by paying attention to all your classes because in the future you don’t want to be struggling with what you want to do and end up doing nothing. I know if you don’t pay attention in class is that you don’t like it so find something that you like, i know you like sports but for a reason they tell you to get good grades or you can’t be on the team, because future will come and you will find in a situation  that you can’t do what you wanted to do. So, do better in highschool and go to classes, have fun and play sports because that’s important too, but your future as an adult will be hard, some of those friends that you having fun now in highschool are now working a job they don’t love because they don’t have the experience enough to work a good job or study something they would like. I’m saying this to you to help you. I hope my future self after graduating would be happy of me and what i chose to be, this is the letter i hope he writes to me, “Now i graduated, and you did good, you were always happy, doing what you loved, and when you joined college you choose what you loved so i’m happy for you that you just be doing what you love all the time”. Now looking at those letters I think I’m good and I can do or learn anything I want no matter what.

  10. Anja Rrasa

    Hey Anja,

    You won’t believe this but I’m writing to you from the future. We are currently living in New York City, we go to college and we have a job. We are a counselor and work with kids from 1st grade to 5th grade, they are the sweetest. We have been through some tough times but we made it. I would like to tell you to stay focused, believe in yourself and do not be afraid to step out your comfort zone. Please prioritize self-care and find a good balance between school and play. You have to surround yourself with positive and supportive people who believe in you. It is okay to make mistakes, you learn from them and you keep pushing forward. It will all be worth it in the end. Just keep swimming.

    Love, your future self.

  11. Akobir

    I wonder if you still don’t know what it all really means …

    I wonder if you still have a sight as warm as winter sunshine

    I wonder if you are still nice to people

    I wonder if you are still as kind as cartoon characters 

    I wonder if you are still as confident as prime Ali 

    I wonder if you are still as curious as a child 

    I wonder if you are still as unpredictable as the weather in NYC

    I wonder if you are still as romantic as Celentano 

    I wonder if you are still as charismatic as Sherlock Holmes 

    I wonder if you are still as stubborn as donkey 

    I wonder if you are still as crazy as Ozzy Osbourne 

    I wonder if you are still as stern as Caligula

    I wonder if you ever found your dreams…

  12. MD Azizur

    Evolution of My Passions: From Past to Future

    My journey from the past to the future has been quite a ride. When I was a kid, I felt a strong sense of responsibility that made me different from others. I had a real passion for electronic stuff. I loved playing with gadgets and learning about how they worked. It was more than just a hobby; it was a part of who I was. While other kids were into sports and hanging out with friends, I was deep into the world of electronics.

    But as I grew up, things changed. I became more practical and focused on the real world. That’s when I decided to shift my focus from electronics to computers. I started to play around with computers, learning how they functioned and what made them tick. This shift in my interests was driven by a desire to be more professional and financially secure.

    Now, I’m on a journey to become a computer engineer. I’m all about setting clear goals and aiming for practical success. The world of computers fascinates me, and I’m committed to learning and growing in this field. My ultimate destination is to be a successful computer engineer.

    Life has a way of taking us on unexpected paths, and we need to adapt. My journey from electronics to computers was one such unexpected twist, but it feels like the right path for me. It’s a natural progression in my life’s story.

  13. Brinny Cruz

    Dear future self,

      I hope that in the future you will think about your past with pride. I hope that in the future you will still think the decisions I am making now were the right ones. I hope you continue creating habits that drive you to be a better person and help you achieve your goals in life. I wonder if after achieving everything you wanted you will think is enough or will you still have that feeling that it’s not enough. I wonder if you will still have that obsession of  eating ice or if your taste in movies will remain the same. I wonder if you’re still so unromantic. I hope one day you learn the true meaning of happiness. I hope you continue to do what your heart says and never feel the regret of not doing what you love. I hope you are still making the right decisions. Take care and keep working hard.

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