So I told them what I wish someone could have told me:
As you get older, you'll find that it's easy to get lost. Lost in love, lost in work, lost in life's dramas and complications. It's easy to lose your sense of who you are and who you want to be. Which is why it's important to make yourself stop: stop and reflect on what matters to you, on the things you never want to let yourself forget. Writing is a beautiful way to do that. So today I want you to write your future self a letter. Tell yourself what matters to you now, and what you want to make sure you never lose sight of.
It was a really nice class, and a really nice moment. They all put different "open me" dates on their envelopes, and it was interesting to see what dates they picked. The first week of college. The last week of college. Their 25th birthday. I found myself fervently hoping that they hold onto their letters, and that whoever they turn out being is an even better version of themselves than they can currently imagine.
One of my favorite things about teaching has been talking to kids about books. It's given me the chance to reflect on what books helped change my world when I was their age. The books that made me fall in love with reading all over again and that made my last year of high school more memorable. These are the books I'd like to give my students: