Posting this against my better judgment… But since it’s timely… Fine. (See this post first for context.)
Here’s a funny story. So, like, this semester I have a class called FYDP (1), which means First Year Development Program. Yes: First Year Development Program. To state what should be obvious—I kind of hate this class. I mean… Fine, I don’t hate it, exactly. I just hate the idea that I have to do it. Like, FFS, don’t I already have a Bachelor’s degree? Am I not so done with this shit?!
But it’s my own fault, I know. It comes with choosing to study again in a different university. I have to do whatever’s required for me to graduate. (Also I think it’s karma.)
Oh, but wait, right—spoiler alert! In one year you will be studying again! Dun dun dunnn!
I am not shitting you. It’s gonna happen. I know it doesn’t seem all that plausible to you right now, and in fact, if I recall correctly, right now all you’re thinking is yay I’m 21 now I can get my license and I can finally legit work as an RMT YAAAASSSS PRC HERE I COME! and, well, that’s fine. That’s all you need to think about right now. The next few months need to happen as they have happened so that you could get here. To me. And not to be super spoilery here, but let’s just say that the year that’s coming is going to be full of sweat, blood, and tears (and even urine and shit), literally, in ridiculous amounts.
So prepare yourself.
But anyway. What am I saying? It’s your birthday! No need to get you worrying earlier than you should be! Let’s get back to me and FYDP.
In our FYDP class, for two hours each week, we are asked to do the cheesiest activities you could think of. We have to group together with people (seatmates not allowed!) and talk about our feelings in relation to the religious module of the week, then write down said feelings in cut-out pieces of brightly-colored cartolina, and recite these insights aloud to the rest of the class. These are all supposed to help us adjust to our ‘new’ lives as college students. My wildly energetic classmates are at the wondrous pubescent ages of fifteen, sixteen, and seventeen; our very young facilitator, who turns out graduated with a degree in 2013 like I did, is just twenty-one (holy shit?!); and I, as of 8:12 am today, am already twenty-two.
Like. I know.
So. Every week we’re given assignments, and usually they’re written reflections and some other shit. This particular week, that some other shit is writing a love letter to myself (since we learned all about “My Giftedness” the other week, yup). I’m not sure how the person who came up with this homework idea didn’t see the irony in requiring someone to make a love letter to himself and have another person collect it and read it and judge it by grading it, but hey, what do I know? It’s probably already proven effective. For some other humans. But surely you can’t expect me to be, like, revelatory and sincere in such circumstances. Hello?!
But why am I telling you this? Simple. It’s because I find the timing so amusing. After all the schedule changes and delays and holidays, we finally have to pass the letter today. And today is July 22, 2015.
I’ve had to make a love letter to myself that will be submitted today, on my birthday, of all days.
You see it now, too, don’t you? What I find so funny? Because the last time I wrote a letter to myself, it wasn’t a requirement—it was of my own accord, on a whim, out of curiosity about sending emails to the future, and out of feeling real love and praying real hopes for myself. The last time I wrote a letter to myself, I was you, back there, on this same day, exactly a year ago.
What is timing?
And because I want to make this even more warped than it already is, now I’m writing this to you. You wrote a letter to the future you (us?) today, and now I’m writing a letter to the past me (you).
(Obviously, you don’t get any less insane a year from now. Ha.)
Like, I know I’m already supposed to forget you ever wrote that letter to the future by now, but in my defense, I did already forget what you wrote. I only remember there were a lot of “I hope”s there. And, honestly, I don’t know if I am any closer to those ideals than you are, even a year later. Like, you’re on your way to employment, and here I am, a post-but-undergraduate student again. Many would consider that backtracking. I consider it chasing happiness. But no one knows if this is for better or for worse. But hey, I still have four years to do you good in that letter, right? (If I don’t die, that is.) (But I haven’t been diagnosed with any terminal illnesses.) (Yet.)
But what is this letter for, really? This isn’t the letter I’m gonna submit, no duh. That letter was full of what I hope was perfectly calculated, instructor-pleasing, saccharine BS. This is not a love letter. I’m not about to shower you with compliments here because those are just as true as your flaws. I mean, do you even want me to begin?—I love that you know how to laugh at yourself. But I hate that you’re supremely lazy and can’t get anything done until the last minute! I love your long fingers…but I hate that your natural hair is a ball of frizz. I love that you hold your opinions dear, yet you know not to immediately dismiss others’…but I hate that you find it so difficult to be assertive when it matters.
And the list goes on.
So nope. In this letter, I’m gonna say what I didn’t in the letter I shall submit, which is this: I am already at a point where I don’t need to write myself a love letter. And I know how egotistic that sounds. But I don’t mean it that way. I just know that I am me. Good and bad. Trying to be more good than bad. There were times that cheering myself up with consoling adjectives were all that kept me going, but that’s no longer the case. Now, the fact that I’ve learned to accept who I am as who I will myself to be, that I’m not defined by any labels, much less other people’s labels—that fact goes without saying. I no longer need to sweet talk myself into believing it.
And knowing that, I think, would make you really happy, wouldn’t it? That I reached this point?
You know, during the past year, I couldn’t seem to stop myself from thinking of what other females I admire have already been doing at my age. First on the list of course is Mama—at 21, she was already raising her firstborn (who turned out to be an amazing human, my brother). Then there’s Taylor Swift—she was 21 when I was 17, that fateful day we met, which meant that when she was my age she’d already released three successful albums, the latest of which she wrote entirely on her own, and was already headlining a world tour that allowed her to visit countries halfway around the world and meet crazed Filipino fangirls. Heck, I don’t even need to think of throwbacks! There’s Abbey Sy, who already had her first book published just recently. My sister even bought a copy of it for me this weekend.
Like—how?! I couldn’t even imagine doing any of these things right now. I wouldn’t even come close.
But do I feel bad about it? (You would. You did.)
No. Or at least not as much as I used to. Because while those accomplishments motivate me to try harder, I know that I have my own pace. I am my own story. And I’m still becoming and unbecoming, every single day.
Here’s another story, but one that isn’t as funny—some weeks ago, someone actually spat these lovely words to my face: You’re a failure! Your career is a joke! Look at you—so scared you couldn’t handle Med school so you don’t even want to try! You have no backbone! You think you’re so good at what you do?! How egotistic is that? God you’re so old now and you’re going back to school? Don’t you know how embarrassing that is? No one just tells you that but we all think it. You’re pathetic!
I’m not even exaggerating. This is no hyperbole. Those were his words. And I am ashamed to report that I was brought to tears, because a) conflict activates my tear ducts (you know this) and b) I couldn’t believe he actually had the gall to say that to me. But powerful, life-changing moment alert! I didn’t care. I honest-to-goodness did. Not. Care.
None of those tears fell because the words hurt me—they didn’t. Perhaps he believed all of those things about me, perhaps everyone did, and I couldn’t convince them otherwise. But did any of that matter, if I didn’t believe that of myself? I guess it’s easy to think that I’m just the sum of my mistakes, to reduce my story as one of failure, but I can see more than that. And that’s all I need to keep going. Like, I don’t even want to prove them wrong, because that would imply that I do what I do to influence what they think.
Which: Ha! No way.
I have no more fucks to give.
I’ve worked way too fucking hard to learn to value myself like this, and I’ve built my walls to protect that, and no one can break me. I know that I’m now strong enough to keep those walls standing.
And that’s what you’re gonna have to learn the hard way, my dear, young, not-yet-as-world-weary self. Because when I speak of me, I also mean you. If only you could really read this and be warned… People will meddle the way you’ve always let them meddle. They will try to fit your reality into their ideals. You’re gonna try to conform because you feel like you owe as much. You will think that their understanding is needed to validate your choices. But you’re gonna grow tired, and stripped away of everything and isolated from everyone, you’re gonna find that everything you need to figure out answers for won’t need to come from anywhere further than your own heart.
This is not a love letter. Love doesn’t need to come from outside of you, and certainly not from any letter from the future (even if it is you from the future) (I sound so insane lol). This is a letter of hindsight, with perfect 20/20 vision: You already have everything you need. Figuring it out, and picking up the pieces of you that got lost along the way—that’s the hard part. But I’m not gonna be sitting here writing this letter if you didn’t somehow survive, so.
Protect your heart and soul fiercely.
Don’t be afraid to grow into yourself. It’s actually a pretty nice fit. (Growing out and making stuff that will impact other people and would matter to the world outside of my head—well that’s my problem. You ain’t got time for that.)
Repeat this forever and ever: Have courage and be kind. (So okay I totally stole that line from the live-action Cinderella movie that came out earlier this year.) (Which made me feel all the feely feelings!!! You’ll love it.)
And whenever you feel like you’re alone struggling with battles you can’t seem to win, remember me. Think of all your past and future selves who are counting on you and cheering you on: you at seven, you at seventeen, you at twenty-two, you at thirty… We’ve all got your back.
So go get that license and keep going!
Happiest of birthdays, love
P.S. No, I am not going to tell you what program I chose to enroll in. You’re already spoiled enough as it is! (Is it Medicine? —What do you think?!)
P.P.S. Actually, if things go well, you and I are gonna be TWICE A SCIENTIST. Lol does that not sound cool?!? Fuck yeah.
P.P.P.S. Prince George (who of course you know shares our birthday) (adorable little monkey who is two today!), as of this writing, already has a baby sister. (A baby sister!!!!! Tiny beautiful precious BABY PRINCESS!!! Omg r u ready?!?!!!)
P.P.P.P.S. I don’t know about you but I’m feeling twenty-twoooooooo (lol at long last, this song is finally 100% relevant!)To myself on my 21st birthday, written 07.22.2015