If you could go back into your past and change something, what would it be? Would you even change anything? Looking back, I’ve definitely had my fair share of cringey and embarrassing moments that tend to pop into the forefront of my mind at inopportune times. But would I go back and try to prevent things from happening? It’s hard to say. I definitely wouldn’t be the person I am today without experiencing my life, but I do wish that I could have been there to guide myself along the way. Sort of like a “Hey, I made it. Hang in there,” kind of thing. So here’s a letter in the style of a list to my younger self, filled with things that I want to say to her.
- Always try to be the best version of yourself. If you know you’re being a terrible person, don’t chalk it up to “this is who I am, take it or leave it.” Yes, you’ll find people who think the same as you, and you’ll bond over it, but that’s not something to be proud of. Nothing good ever comes out of being a bad person, so let go of your ego, and realize that everyone, including yourself, always has room for improvement.
- Let people in. Asking for help is not a weakness!! Letting people know your insecurities and having deep talks that expose your emotions isn’t a weakness either!! If you don’t let people in, you’ll never create lasting relationships, so open that armoured heart a little bit, and let people slowly, but surely, chip away and knock down your emotional walls, and worm their way in.
- But also let people go. Everyone is growing, and people constantly change over the years. Who wants to be the same as they were in middle school, right? So when the people who you used to love develop into people you no longer know how to talk to, don’t hate them for it. And don’t hate the circumstances that caused them to change, either. Appreciate them for the love that they brought into your life, and let them go. Photo by Nicole
- It’s okay to cry in front of your friends. (The real ones won’t think any less of you.) I know you do your best to hold in your tears and let them fall once you’re alone in a bathroom stall, but it’s okay to show vulnerability in front of other people. No one wants to be friends with someone who’s perfect all the time, so let your raw emotions show occasionally, and you’ll get to see who your real friends are, because those are the ones who are willing to stick around, despite you being a mess.
- It’s natural to get in (small) fights with your friends. It’s not the end of the world if you guys have a disagreement, that’s just life. You’re not always going to have the same opinion as your friends, no matter how similar you guys are. And you should never let people, much less your friends, walk all over you with their opinions. Similar to the previous point, you’ll find out very quickly who actually care about you and your opinions, and who just wants to surround themselves with sheep that follow their every command.
- Don’t be ashamed of what you love. You’re a theatre kid, through and through. Embrace that about yourself! You love being on stage and pretending to be someone else, and you happen to be good at it, so be proud. You won’t be able to do theatre, or anything related to performing arts for a long time in university, so please, just enjoy it as much as you possibly can. Along similar lines, don’t be ashamed that you still sleep with stuffed animals. Trust me, your collection is just going to grow, and get incredibly out of hand in university. Relish in the fact that you still have bed space to sleep on. Photo by Nicole
- Tell people you’re horrible at giving gifts on demand. If it’s something that you see and it reminds you of a friend, by all means, buy it for them. But if it’s for a birthday or Christmas, and you have to go out to search for something, you suck at it. If there’s something that someone wants, they should just tell you. Or just treat them to a meal. Stop trying to find gifts. Stop.
- Learn to accept the way you look. Especially your nose. I know you hate the look of it, and I know you wish it was smaller, less bumpy, less scarred, less filled with pores, the list goes on and on. And while I can’t say that the physical looks of it have changed much beyond your skin getting better, I can say that you’ve embraced what it looks like. It’ll never be what the models have, but that’s what makes you, you.
- Stop trying to please everyone. The only person that you’re supposed to nurture to the fullest is yourself. And your parents when they get old. And it goes without saying, but of course, you should please the people who you care about, as long as it’s not at the expense of your own well being. And stop trying to please every single person, especially the people who only stop by briefly in your life, because they won’t matter to you in the long run.
- Love yourself, but don’t get narcissistic about it. You have to be your own biggest fan, and your own biggest critic. If you don’t cheer yourself on, no one else will. And if you criticize yourself hard enough, what other people have to say about you won’t hurt. That’s not to say that you shouldn’t take in what they’re saying, especially if it’s constructive criticism, but you’ll learn to not take it as an attack, but rather as an act of love. Because those who take the time to criticize and tell you how to improve just want to see you succeed.
- Take care of yourself. There are so many elements that go into taking care of yourself, but I’ll just touch on the one that I wish you started earlier. Drinking more water. Thankfully you start taking dance classes, and that forces you to drink more water, but I wish you started the habit sooner. Drinking water will clear up your skin so much, and while the air quality in Taiwan is the main culprit in triggering pimples, not drinking enough water isn’t doing you any favours, either.
In general, just know that you’ll be okay. Sometimes life can seem bleak, but stick around a little longer, and you’ll find that with enough willpower and time, everything will be alright.
Wishing you all the best,