Dear 17-year-old self,
I am your future currently roaming around Southeast Asia to avoid going home. You might be disappointed on how you turned out to be me. My younger self, I know you had a lot of things you wanted to achieve. That notebook you got when you were 14 to keep a list of your short-term and long-term goals, I still remember it. I hope you’re happy that you have achieved half of those.
I want to let you know that I got rid of that notebook and started from scratch as I realised that those are not the things that I want now. We might have a disagreement on this but you were materialistic. I know you had a good heart but got caught living up to your society’s expectations.
You did not have to be hard on yourself. Pleasing the world should not be on your mind. You should’ve loosened up a bit more. I know we’ve been through a lot but I wish you were able to live your life the way I do now.
It is a different world out here, nowhere near being easy but I get to experience things. I remember how you did not even taste or try alcohol and cigarettes. You were admirable for being so responsible. Look, I drink and smoke now. I know how you kept yourself from flirting as you avoided relationships so much. Hey, flirting is fun at times! It sucks that I got to enjoy it just recently. We both know we’re late bloomers.
Remember when you told yourself you’re never going to work at housekeeping changing bedsheets, picking and throwing up trash? Or even work at a call centre thinking it’s a waste of your university degree? Guess what? I did all those. People at BPO industries are smart. Working at a hostel or hotel is fulfilling. I actually want to try being a waitress now or go to remote areas in Vietnam or Cambodia to help communities.
I know you always wanted to do charity work that’s why you spent sleepless nights studying so you can be rich one day and donate to charities. It is true, dear, that you don’t have to have a lot of money to help. You just have to always have your heart and compassion, more so, empathy.
Oh, my younger self, you might be wondering what happened to me – not married at 27, no post grad, no properties, not a part of the management team at a multinational company, no car, not anywhere you expected me to be. I am sorry.
Every once in a while I look back at you and check if you are proud of me or if you can even accept the fact that I threw all your dreams and decided to pursue mine.
Please, don’t feel too upset. I still love how you made a lot of friends in the university and I apologise for not keeping them. You were such a leader and strong-willed and I think I still keep it with me. It’s just now, I don’t do it to boost my ego and just to avoid the bullies. I do it because I believe I can make a change and that it’s for a greater cause and for a better us.
I am struggling now, trying to re-evaluate the choices I made. Of course, I can hear you say “I told you so! You should’ve done according to plan.” Baby, I want you to know that life is not as easy as that. Doing things according to plan is only great if it can give you a sense of fulfilment or happiness. I knew I was unhappy keeping up with the plans we had. Goals had changed.
You are lucky because you had our Nan to run to when something goes wrong. I have no one. I run to myself in the mirror when something goes wrong, talk and nag to myself whenever I do something bad, and even cry myself to sleep whenever I don’t know what I am doing. You do not have to worry too much; I’m used to it.
We might not be in sync now but I can tell you that I am now in sync with our present self. Do not feel anxious, I am still as strong as you are if not, stronger.
This is the life that I want now. I may be struggling but struggles are beautiful. They give you a sense of humanity or even just a sense. I still get anxieties but I can tell you that I am a lot happier now. Travelling is my escape. I am actually not a traveller; I am more of an escapist, but I am learning a lot.
Sorry for not doing the things that you dreamed of. Dreams can change. Rest assured that I won’t let ourselves grow old without them. We always believe that dreams are free and we should take advantage of that, right?
Life is beautiful out here. It is not perfect but it’s wonderful. Forgive yourself for being too righteous and too stiff. I am going to take over from here. This is your future – a carefree, independent one.
I wish you may accept the fact that I am living another life now.
I love you and I hope you still love me, too.
Your future self at a current time,
Haze at 27