Trent Bell is a well-respected architectural photographer for publications like the New York Times and Design New England. He was shocked to find out that a dear friend of his, who was a husband and a father of four, was sentenced to prison for 36 years. Bell decided that he wanted to create a platform for inmates to speak about their experiences and lessons learned. He asked the inmates of Maine State Prison to write letters to their younger selves and then photographed them alongside their letters. What came out of the project was life changing-- the inmates wrote wise and insightful advice to their younger selves that were relatable, powerful, and meaningful. From this experience, Bell recalls that, “Our untold stories can contain loss, remorse, and regret but the positive value of these bad choices might be immeasurable if we can face them, admit to them, learn from them, and find the strength to share.”
We all make mistakes in life, but how often do we get the opportunity to truly reflect on the choices we have made? What kind of insight would you come up with if you had the opportunity to talk to a younger version of yourself? You might tell yourself the same things that the inmates told themselves like, “Never lose the person you really are because it may be too late by the time you find yourself again,” or “You must be willing to forgive those that ask or deserve for forgiveness in order to be forgiven yourself.”
In response to Bell’s project, we invite you to write a letter to your former self asking, “If I knew then what I know now, I would have…” Please post letters in the comment box below our blog or scan/e-mail them to email@example.com to possibly get featured on IfiKnew’s Facebook and Twitter page.
What part of your life would you want to reflect on the most? Would you want to keep your letter private or share with someone? How could this letter help you now in making decisions? Does this letter help you feel more confident in trusting your intuition? From getting some perspective, you may find that you are wiser, braver, and stronger than you could have possibly imagined.