Gurls Talk: Letter To My Pre-Pandemic Self

'I’m realizing that I have to let you go in order to be fully present here.'


by Grazia Contributor |

This month, Gurls Talk - the community-led non-profit organisation dedicated to promoting the mental health and wellbeing of adolescent girls and young women - launched a campaign inviting community members to write a letter to their pre-pandemic self.

The campaign is a way to process what we've endured, how we’ve changed through adversity - and who we've become. Here, Dawn Bangi****, a Ugandan photographer and immigrant living in the United States, shares her letter to her pre-pandemic self...

Dear Dawn,

With the time I’ve had to reflect for the past two years, I’ve come to know you, admire you, and miss you more than anything. The near-limitless sense of hope you held, the friendships you sustained and rooted yourself in, and even your flaws have all brought me to where I am today. Even though I can't possibly express the amount of gratitude I hold for you and all that you did to get me here today, thank you.

With that said, though, I think I’ll have to end this letter on a sadder note. With the amount of love and gratitude I hold for you and all that you represent, I haven’t been able to live my present life fully. Holding onto the good moments you had, to the hardworking self-sacrificing person you were, is bringing me more harm than good. As I reminisce on your memories, on your experiences, on your reality, I can’t be here for myself right now. It feels as if there is a type of lifeline attached to you, one that pulls at me with any success or loss I have, always telling me things were better when I was you.

Dawn Bangi
Dawn Bangi

This is not your fault. For a while, it felt like your life was the one I needed to get back to after the pandemic. Instead of facing the immense challenge of moving forward with a new life, a new reality, and new lessons, I chose to cling to yours hoping it would be easier. Now I’m realizing that I have to let you go in order to be fully present here.

Sometimes I feel you when I’m fully still and conscious. You step into my skin and look through my eyes, and it feels so foreign and distant, almost like you have become a stranger that I know everything about.“Things were better”, “Nothing will ever be the same”. Your voice pleads throughout my mind, trying to take me back. Though it will be hard not seeing you everywhere I go, not feeling you close by, I still hold you incredibly near to my heart. Though my letters and thoughts won't be coming as frequently, I know that the lessons I learn today are only possible because of you and other versions of me that I have come to know more about recently. In order to start honoring all of your efforts, I have to commit myself to the present and to the Dawn I am at this moment.

I love you and will undoubtedly miss you, but I can’t wait to write to you soon about all the adventures, struggles, and beauty around me.

Lovingly, Dawn


Gurls Talk is a community-led non-profit organisation dedicated to promoting the mental health and wellbeing of adolescent girls and young women. Following Adwoa Aboah’s personal experience with mental health, Gurls Talk was formed with the goal of creating safe spaces – both on and offline – where gurls can access mental health resources, share their experiences and support each other so they never feel alone or have to reach a breaking point. To help support their work donate here.


CHOOSE A DATE Identify a specific day before the pandemic (for example the first day of quarantine or the last 'normal' event) and write a letter to be received on that day.

ADDRESS THE LETTER TO YOURSELF and write it as you would a real letter. It can help to physically write the letter.


Honour the challenge: I want you to know the first three months will be… Days will begin to feel… You will lose… The hardest part will be…

Reflect on how you've changed: You will learn to appreciate… Moments of peace will be found through…

Celebrate your resilience: Care for you now looks like... Even though bad days will continue, you must remember... With time, you will recognise that quarantine brought meaning to...

WRITE / RECORD Once you have written your letter, record a short video (30-60seconds) reading it out loud or post a caption with the written letter

PUBLISH + TAG Send your recording or written letter to and post your letter on Instagram tagging @gurlstalk and using the campaign hashtag #lettertomyprepandemicself

SHARE Spread the word with friends and family to encourage them to sit down and write a letter to their pre pandemic self

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