“You’ll Be Okay”: A Letter to My Younger Self

Hey. It’s me. You. Except eighteen. (Surprise! Yes, you make it this far.) I’ll try not to make this awkward.

Now, I’m not exactly sure how old you are right now — 8, 10, 14 — and frankly it doesn’t matter. You’ll need to hear all this at any and every point in your life. Hell, maybe I’ll look back on this myself in the future.

Let’s skip all the fluff and get straight to it, shall we?

You’re afraid. There. I said it. You can deny it all you want, you can lie about it all you want. But not to me. You can’t hide from me. You’re afraid. Afraid that no one will see you the way you see others. Afraid you’re never going to have any friends and, if you’re at the age that you do, you’re afraid that they’re going to slip through your fingers like water, seeping through the small gaps no matter how much, how hard you grab on. You’re afraid of yourself, of what you may do, what you may not, to ruin your own life and increase the distaste you have for your own being. Afraid of the future, the uncertainty of it all weighing on your back, slowly but surely, until you’re practically buried underneath, crawling, struggling to reach the days in front of you, the ones you fear so much wondering why, why you even bother. You’re afraid you’re always going to be afraid, that this constant terror of yours is going to linger near you like a ghost, a detachment of your very soul, until the end of times, controlling your every decision, your every move, until it makes you realize that one side of the scale is so much heavier than the other, that it would probably be much easier to submit, to give in to that side.

(I just made it awkward, didn’t I?)

Now, before you mentally rip this up and toss it back into the depths of your mind alongside trigonometry and that crappy movie from the 40s you made yourself sit through, let me tell you some things — good things this time, I promise.

Somehow, luckily, you will have friends. You’ll make tons (translation: more than I deserve) and they’ll be some of the best and craziest people you’ll know. Though I can’t tell the future (well, not any further than this), at this point in my/your life, we’re as close as I’ve ever been with people — peas in a pod and all that weird sappy stuff, despite the pandemic. (Oh crap, you don’t know about that yet . . . uh, just ignore that! Just a little joke! Completely irrelevant side note, be sure to breathe in a lot of fresh air. Touch some plants. Go to the bookstore a few hundred more times. Completely irrelevant.)

Seamlessly moving past that, let’s move on to the whole fear-of-the-future business. This is a tough one since, frankly, I pretty much carry that one with me still, 24/7 (reassuring, I know). However, what I can tell you is that despite what you thought a year or two or five ago, you passed high school and made it into university and are doing fairly well for yourself. I don’t know what tomorrow is gonna bring or what I’m going to do after this whole school thing, but I know that I’m going to take this one small day at a time, as you should. That doesn’t sound too bad, right?

Let’s talk about you now. Just you, not me. I know you’re at an age where you despise yourself and loathe the person you are, and I know that nothing anyone says is going to change your mind until you learn to change it yourself. So let me say this: I love you so much. I am your biggest fan and am so proud of you and the person you are and, more importantly, the person you are going to be.

I’m not going to lie to you — you’re still going to be afraid. The terror doesn’t just dissolve and flee overnight. In fact, it is always right next to me and I feel as though it always will be. But it’s getting smaller. Every so often, I see it shrink, just a smidge, and I become a little braver — or maybe it’s the other way around. But it’ll always be there, one way or another. Maybe that’s not the worst thing in the world.

There are lots of good things waiting for you a little way down — you just have to wait and see. 

The future is bright, kid. So keep that head up high, double-knot those mint-green Converse, wipe those tears, and shout your name so loudly it reaches the ends of the Earth and bounces back, reverberating in your brain until the adrenaline of your own being courses through your veins like blood. I’ll see you — more like you’ll see me — in a few years. Till then, take care of yourself. You’ll be okay.

With all the love,

Sariya A.