Letters To My Younger Self
#1. The Intimidating Ambiguity of the Future
I’ve been trying to contact you for a long time. Right now, amidst all this self-doubt and uncertainty, my mind has been begging for a release. But unfortunately, my anxiety has latched on to me and refuses to let go.
This got me nostalgic about the times where my worst problems were a petty fight with my friend or a boy who didn’t like me back (spoiler alert: you were better off without him anyway). These problems seem like momentary inconveniences in comparison to the ones I face now, and they haven’t impacted my life for the worse. But the decisions I make, the experiences I have, and the relationships I form at this point in my life have the potential to determine the direction of my future, and honestly, I need a breath of fresh air.
And that’s why I’m contacting you.
You still possess all that wonder and excitement for what’s to come. You still make fantasies in your head and wish on eyelashes, counting on them to come true. You still gasp at swear words and giggle silently at childish euphemisms (spoiler alert #2: the latter hasn’t changed). You actually look forward to what the future holds in store for you because you have an unwavering idea of what you want. Ah, how I miss that sense of certainty.
Therefore, even though it’s a pointless effort to make, I want to give you a piece of advice before it’s too late. I want you to let go of those specific expectations of your future because here’s spoiler number 3: life isn’t going to turn out that way.
The conversations that you have with your best friends now will later reduce to occasional FaceTime calls. The city that you’ve called home for nine years is soon going to become just a memory. Night-time studying is going to wear your vision down and give you glasses. Oh, and that scary recurring nightmare you had that you never told anybody about? Don’t worry, that’ll fade.
This unpredictability is something you’ll soon familiarise yourself with, but never be able to get used to. And all too suddenly, you’ll be where I am now: unsure, anxious and intimidated by what it plans for you.
So as soon as you can, embrace it. Succumb to its currents. Let loose of your restraints and inhibitions. And, here comes the cliché, go with the flow. The sooner you learn these lessons, the less intimidating it will all be. But I’ll get there soon. And it isn’t like life’s disappointed me so far.
Hope this has helped you because it’s definitely helped me. You’ll definitely be hearing from me again, Aadira – hopefully not after four years this time.
You, just a little bit older.
#2. The Pain of Perfection
Currently, you are unafraid of judgement and what others think of you. But soon, this is one of the main thoughts that will keep you preoccupied.
"Was that good enough?"
"Do they like me?"
"Did I stutter too much?"
These are questions you're probably going to ask yourself a million times. And that's just in a day. You probably think you know what I'm about to say. You think I'm going to tell you to stop these thoughts and believe in yourself and all those things you know but don't know how to do.
Don't worry, I won't. You're going to hear a lot of it in your lifetime, but I surely don't want you to be hearing it from me. I know how annoying it gets.
You see, I know you. I know how you think and how you justify your thoughts and actions to yourself, despite how destructive they may be. I'm incredibly familiar with how you rationalise your self-doubt by convincing yourself that it's better to be self-critical than conceited. However, there's a huge difference between a reality check and just being plain mean to yourself.
You are capable. You are hardworking. You are passionate. But you know what makes you less of all that? Your lack of confidence that you mask under the guise of perfectionism. You are all those things, but in your never-ending quest for perfection, you will always fall short of your expectations. And that's just fodder for an infinite cycle of disappointment. So please don't do that do yourself.
I'm not sure if I'm much wiser than you. In fact, I'm pretty sure I'm not much smarter at all (or maybe that's my self-doubt speaking on my behalf) but I do know this: you are going to do great things. And I know this because I've witnessed these things. You're going to make unforgettable memories with unforgettable people, and at the end of the day, that is so much more important than your proficiency at small talk or how long you took to take your money out of your wallet.
Everything ends up for the best. So I won't tell you to believe in yourself. Instead, I'm telling you to believe in the passage of time (and honey, you have a lot of it left).
You, just a little bit older.