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A Letter To Who I Used To Be

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 Alexander Shustov
Alexander Shustov

Dear 17-year-old You,

How have you been? I have been busy,traveling month after month. However, I am back now. I will relate my travelogues soon, but before that I have something important to write to you; something which I have been musing a lot over the past few days and wish to share with you.

So, how was it turning 17 last year? Birthdays are all about friends and festivities today. Please know that this is great and it is okay to indulge in it as much as you can now; you will have all the time to be recluse and quiet later in your life. You will slowly learn it is possible to enjoy the silence in the same way as you enjoy the sound today.

I know you don’t understand companionship the way others do right now, and somehow have a penchant for being lost in a crowd, and erecting boundaries all around you, but these times and these friends won’t last 10 years from now. Except some — and those bonds will transcend all barriers of time and space; but even they will get busy with their lives and so will you. So cherish and enjoy to the hilt the moment that is now; and trust me when I say this – there is nothing better than going splits over recollecting fond, old memories in a friend’s bachelorette in Phi Phi Islands, some 10 years after.

I know you are stressed with your college applications and about what your future beholds.

Know that it is okay to not know everything. And believe that you have a promising career ahead of you, because you do. So, don’t fret too much and just stay true to yourself in whatever you do. And most importantly, have your own dream and live it; don’t buckle under the pressure of someone else’ dream. That’s not you and you will never enjoy doing it for long.

You will stay indecisive even after completing college and will continue to harbour doubts and give into experimenting. You will regard yourself as an epitome of confusion and loathe yourself for being that. But know that being indecisive is okay; refraining from making a decision is not.

I know that your high school crush makes you go weak in your knees today and you are consumed by his thoughts all the time. You think you are living a perfect love story and that you will marry him one day. But no, you will not. He will marry someone else and have a child before you even think of marrying. And I won’t be honest if I say that you will be okay being a stoic because you will not be. But you will move past this and years later, when you will run into him with his kid in that old book shop of the city you grew up in, you will find yourself laughing at the feelings which you take so seriously today.

Sometimes, you will hurt people you love even when you have no intention of doing so. And you will beat yourself up for it. But you will understand that sometimes life doesn’t give you much choice, so try not to over think. But you will over think anyway and you won’t like it. And then there will be times when you will be hurt too. You will understand pain in ways you never understood before. And, the uncanny knack of attracting complications that you have will only take deeper roots in years to come.

You will try hard to unravel the web and it will confound you. But please know and trust that with some patience and strength, you will break through all these destructive patterns — so give staying calm a try. I know you feel that you are less worthy when it comes to how you look. In some years, there will be people who will underpin this for you and yes, their opinion will affect you. Sever ties from such people right away, but you will wallow in this for some time before realizing that people who love you will love you anyway. And those are the ones who will make you feel amazing despite how you look.

You will realize that love is very different from what you’ve read in books so far. You will know love as an ecstasy, a passion, a storm and silence. You will then know love as a constant undercurrent in your life, an inspiration, a haven of trust and stability. You will learn to give second chances, first to yourself then to anyone else. And then, you will do what you considered as impossible.

You love staying nestled amongst your novels today; you read them even between your preboards. You will develop a stronger love for paper books and the written word despite electronic reading becoming a vogue. In a few years from now, you will also plan travel to places near and far and find a lost love in traveling.

Contrary to what you think today, you will become an independent traveler and thoroughly immerse yourself in the experience of the places you travel to. You will indulge in humour, but also wish that if only you had not slept in your geography classes and were more attentive then. You will not only travel but also write about the places you travel to. So do not ignore the little sparks of creativity that you harbour. Writing in some years will become an extension of you, a catharsis, and a refuge. And while you do this, there will be people who will undermine your efforts or probably not give them their due. Try to ignore them; because that’s the best you can and should do at times.

However, there will be people who will not only applaud you in your endeavours but also encourage and propel you to do more. More often than not, you will take their support for granted — sometimes, because of dearth of time, and sometimes, because of dearth of enough thought. But, whenever you get your head right, do express your gratitude to all these gems in your life – including your parents, amongst others. Because, whilst what you do with your life is very important, who you do it with is even more important. So take care and believe in yourself.

Yours truly,
27-year-old Me. TC mark

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