A letter to my 40-year-old self on the eve of my 30th birthday

Dani Mohrbach
Human Parts
Published in
7 min readJul 13, 2023

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Dear me,

You weren’t my first choice. Sorry. I wanted to get that out of the way, to avoid any awkwardness.

I actually started writing this to our 20-year-old self. Remember her? Chipper perfectionist? Insufferable beanpole? Slowly losing her grip on reality and clawing for purchase on everything she thought she knew? Yeah. Me neither. Depression’s really done a number on our memory.

But everything I wrote to our 20-year-old self was shit, and honestly, it made me feel like shit. Like, wow, I guess all that writing “talent” really was just precociousness and a preternaturally expansive vocabulary! Pull off the sheet and there it is! And I would have gotten away with it, too, if it weren’t for my meddling impossible expectations for myself!

Anyway.

I decided to change tactics. If exorcising the ghosts of Birthdays Past felt too chilling, maybe it’d be less scary to scry into the future. So here I am, writing to you, because I have something very important to request.

I’m here for your secrets.

Yes! Your secrets, I want to know everything. This is a stick-up. Hands in the air, buddy! Hand ’em all over and nobody gets hurt.

Sorry. That’s maybe a lot. Don’t put this letter down and burn it in the sink, like we did the photos of our ex-boyfriend. Here. We’ll start easy.

I want to know what color your hair is. I only just discovered the joy of dyeing our hair “fantasy” colors, as if we’re a mermaid and not a queer woman with a late-blooming hankering for rebellion. Do we still have pink hair? Is it back to brown? Or have we bleached and dyed and bleached again with such fervor that we now don’t have any hair at all?

Are we still fun? Do we Do Things? It’s already hard enough to drag myself out of the apartment; I’ve felt exhausted for at least 20 years. Any excursion into the outside world is a victory worthy of celebration and a flurry of doves. So do we go places? Like, with people? Does that happen?

What are we reading? What music do we like? How do we take our coffee, or did we finally decide the mutiny to our insides wasn’t worth it and switch to tea? Do we still play…

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Dani Mohrbach
Human Parts

she/her/hers. Anxious and easily excitable, like a chihuahua in a sweater. LA-based actor, writer, editor, and nerd. Former Chicagoan. danimohrbach.com