Do not expect me to say that your dreams have come true. I’m not going to say it in any part of this letter. Even so, please do not fret. What I’m about to tell you may be far from what you have planned for yourself to happen in ten years time, but that the lessons, the experience, and the little joys in unexpected things, as your young, optimistic self believes, are still, and will always be, truly priceless and irreplaceable.
I want you to try and hold back those tears that, I can imagine, are starting to well up in those round, dark brown eyes of yours. Understand that we do not, cannot, and will not get anything and everything we want. Just keep reading and keep both your heart and your mind open.
I’m 28 now. But I’m not a lawyer, nor a veterinarian, a musician, nor a teacher. I’m not anything close to any of those at all. I’m an ordinary rank-and-file government employee whose career growth is as cloudy as the glass of water and oral re-hydration salt mixture which the adults have been forcing you you drink whenever you’re sick. And if you think that our health condition has improved through the years, I have to tell you now that it hasn’t. If it has changed at all, I must admit that it might even have worsened, because of the lifestyle that I was unable to avoid. Now, I’m at least twenty-five kilos heavier than how you weigh now. On the brighter side, however, I look healthier than my 21-year-old self: thin, cigarette-smoke-smelling, and food and sleep-deprived.
Even so, I still love to read, I have dog companions, I can play even more musical instruments now than you can, and I have written a few things and published some which I hope shared a good insight or two about something. We have never been that smart. I know people have been pushing you to exceed your limits, but you’ve always known how much of a simple, and normal girl you are — so much so, that your classmates notice you only when they’ve come up with new stuff to tease you about. Don’t stress yourself out after every lecture at the review center just because you can’t understand a thing while the rest of your classmates seem to be keeping up with each lesson with much ease.
So, about your career? I have nothing more to say. Even now, I’m still unsure as to where I’m going. But if there’s one thing I want you to share with you about school and career, do not rush things. Education and employment: neither of these two is a race. Take things slow if you must, but always finish what you started. These are words that I keep close to my mind even until now, and I have to say, these words help very much in keeping a positive perspective on things, even when it seems impossible.
Do what you can in the best way that you know. If your parents keep pushing you further, explain it to them. Don’t keep following orders like a trained dog even if you know you can’t (and you don’t want to) do it. Learn to say no when you feel like saying it, because here’s nothing wrong about expressing your feelings. I know you’re afraid your father will yell at you or hit you, but that’s not going to happen. Being unable to say “no” is the reason why you feel you’re always carrying a heavy load over your shoulders. Try it three times today and you’ll understand what I mean. Again, learn to say “no”.
And about your father, he’s all you’ve got. Do not think for one second that he is nothing to you, and do not try to replace him with someone else. I know that now, you find it easier to look at a certain someone as a decent father figure, but I have to warn you, no one can ever replace your immediate family. Whenever you and Dad get in an argument, remember that he’s reprimanding you because he is concerned about you, and only looking after you. It’s his duty to do so, and trust me, when you get older, you will appreciate all the things he’s done for you. I know Dad just doesn’t show it much, but he does care for you just like how your Mom and your siblings care for you. I will not go into detail; I do not want you to know the things that are about to happen before they happen — let me warn you that it will be very traumatic and painful– but you have to go through it in order to learn the most valuable lesson of all: there is no family in others, so don’t go looking for a replacement. Your Dad is no other than your Dad, your Mom is your Mom, and your siblings are your siblings. Stay with them, support them, and always be ready to lend a hand. There is nothing in this world that’s more important than family.
My life now is no different than yours; although, I must say that the number of people who dislike me seems to have been outnumbered by people who neither likes me nor dislikes me. Still, I have learned to be more confident about myself and my actions. There still are the occasional doubts and demons that hound us, but it’s nothing now that I cannot surpass after a few days, or weeks, of fighting. And about our tendency to feel small, uncertain and scared, I completely understand why you behave this way, and I still remember everything that happened to you when you were younger that made you doubt the whole world, but please believe me when I say to you that no one cares about what happened to you in the way that you would have liked. They will not be nice to you. They will not stop to ask you if you’re alright. Time will not wait even if you’ve been running as fast as you could, and gasping desperately for air as you try to get a sizable distance between yourself and whatever it is you’re running from. It will be extremely difficult, but you must teach yourself to accept whatever comes your way as quickly as you possibly can, no matter how horrible or depressing, so you can start working on healing, and eventually moving on.
Don’t try to be someone you’re not. It’s difficult to find a role-model, given the configuration of our family. We were raised in a way that we focus more on our own personal bubbles, and give very little mind to the external. Do you remember playing with friends and kid neighbors growing up? Of course, you don’t. Because we weren’t allowed to go outside. This probably is where our timid and eccentric nature came from, not that there’s anything wrong with being timid and eccentric, if that is indeed a natural aspect of our character. Don’t think of it as a weakness, or a flaw, but think of it as a challenge where we have to put in a bit more effort in meeting new people, or in enjoying a light conversation with people we meet for the first time. Just be careful not to go overboard, and force yourself into behaving or acting in ways you are not used to. Take a little step each time; open up to new people bit by bit, and try not to expect too much from them. Sometimes, even after giving it your all, people move away from us because, well, reasons. Don’t take it personally; perhaps the connection was too weak to form a solid relationship, but it’s enough that you tried. Don’t go any further. Move on to the next person. There always is a next one.
Three of your dogs died recently. It’s painful, and even until now, several days have already passed, I am still reeling from the loss. It’s hard to stop blaming myself for what happened, for my mistakes and my oversight which ultimately caused their untimely death. I try to remember them every day without crying just so I could honor their memories, but at the same time, I try to think that they’re just taking a vacation, and will come back home to us as soon as Meg gets pregnant again. I am hoping to see all three of them again soon, and once they arrive, I know I will be a better, smarter mum. So, keep a close watch over your pets. Dogs are our hearts’ cradle. They teach us love, empathy, responsibility, and money/time management. Don’t ever forget their vaccines. Not only is it your duty as their mum to keep their vaccines updated, but no vaccines mean no outdoor walks. And running outdoors with them is the best exercise and recreational activity in the world.
On matters of the heart, I don’t think I need to say any more, because everything that I can tell you, or teach you, you will learn on your own soon enough. Despite what happened to you when you were younger, understand that your heart remains pure, so don’t think less of yourself. That awful memory is just a memory now, and although it still triggers manic-depressive episodes for me every once in a while, I know that I am loved. I won’t give you a name of this person whom you will meet in the future, but trust me that when you meet him for the first time, you’ll know. Love all you want, but don’t ever think for a second that you deserve less than what you truly desire. Whatever the reason, don’t ever think that you’re small, or insignificant, because when you start thinking that, you’ll act as if you owe the world everything, and you’ll start taking whatever life gives you even when you don’t deserve it. You don’t owe anyone anything, so don’t go around thanking people when they pass on to you their leftovers and rejects.
Finally, don’t go doing things that you’ll end up regretting, because as you may know, we’re not very good with letting go. We hang on to every single mistake and embarrassment that we bring upon ourselves by own own hands. I try to live by this last lesson even to this day, because, among all the things I’ve told you to remember, this is the one thing that I still cannot completely satisfy. We’ve always been the “live in the moment” kind of person simply because we revel in the fun of being in the moment, but when the bill comes due, we scurry and cower in fear. But as dull and monotonous as life is, there still comes a time where I end up biting more than I can chew. I guess I’ll never learn.
So, that’s about it. In two years time, the day I turn 30, I’ll try to write a letter to my 50-year-old self for a change. I’m not sure if I’ll ever reach that age, but if I do, I’d like the 50-year-old me to read something which I didn’t get from my 10-year old self.
There’s a song which came out in the 2000’s which I’d like to leave with you: “Live high, live mighty, live righteously.“. And that’s all you need to do.
(or, trying to)