An Open Letter to Old Me
|Paperback Storyteller: An Open Letter to Old Me|
Dear Thirteen Years Old Me,
- Full spoiler alert in effect for this letter, so if you don’t want to know, don’t read (however knowing/being you, I know you will continue reading anyway).
I know. I know. I was there. It’s like you don’t fit in and you’re this weird kid that everyone knows since nursery and pretends to like. You’re sitting in maths class, staring down at the sheet of paper
in front of you. None of it makes sense. You feel like everyone is getting it except you. Eventually you give up, flipping the paper over and marking it with angry dark words. Teen poetry. I still have some of it, you know. I keep them in a box under my bed. Sometimes I look at them and remember what you’re feeling now. Sometimes I smile and roll my eyes. But I’m going to tell you something and I want you to pay attention.
You are not stupid. It isn’t going to get any better, unfortunately. You never do figure out maths. Even though you had a maths tutor it didn’t make much difference. You weren’t made for numbers. You were made for words.
You know this, you have always known this. But now, and in future, you let other people make you feel stupid. You’ll get flashbacks of when you were twelve: when your math teacher announced your ‘very poor’ grades in front of everyone in your class.
You panicked and tripped while walking because the kids laughed at you. You didn’t even care that your elbow was bleeding but that wasn’t the part that hurt. You’d go home and write in your journal that you don’t know what to do because people think your grades aren't good enough for public universities or a job with a nice pay. All you’ve ever wanted to become was a journalist but everyone knows you can’t make money from it and they'll keep saying it's not 'practical' enough. I wish I could tell you that you figure it out right away but you don’t. It takes time. It takes years of feeling stupid and out of place before you realize what’s going on. That maybe a fish seems ‘stupid’ on dry land. But you do figure it out eventually and let yourself believe that there is something that you are good at. So hang on, get through the maths classes, I can tell you now, it gets better.
At thirteen your dreams are so big that you think your head might explode. You obsess over being a famous singer and an award winning writer while living in a cool metropolitan city. Instead, you live in a shabby town of Bangladesh, surrounded by tons of people and dust. You are thousands of miles away from anything exciting. The singers you see on TV are all perfect; American and dust free. You have frizzy bangs, a thrift store wardrobe and a potato face. However, it is time. You feel like a failure. You may not be beautiful but guess what; you’re also not a writer or a singer. You aren't anything. You lock yourself in your bedroom, away from all the beautiful girls, your parents, and your failed dreams. You look through your shelf to find a book and disappear into your only comfort zone – fiction. Suddenly it dawns on you; all the characters are outsiders - strange girls who overcome insurmountable odds; "So Much To Tell You" by John Marsden, "To Kill A Mockingbird" by Harper Lee, "Came Back To Show You I Could Fly" by Robin Klein.
You may be a rejected writer and a mediocre singer now, but that doesn’t mean you’ll always be. You pound the unwelcoming school pavement with full determination. You don’t care that you are an outsider anymore. People tell you that singing and writing aren’t real jobs and you should focus on maths and physics. You smile politely and vow to prove them wrong. Your obsession to succeed as a writer is tiring and painful. But you’ve been in this position before. You know what to do. You hold your head high and strategize. And most importantly, you never listen to the people who say you can’t. Because you can and you will and that is the greatest thing about being an outsider; you think outside the box.
Things are going to change and be better than you can ever imagine. You don’t have to believe me, but just keep reading. Go to school, so you can graduate soon. The maths you don’t understand, you’ll get through it: just keep in mind that school is more than just classes and you’ll get more out of people you meet and stuff you do on your own. Don’t listen to the people who tell you your goals are silly. Your dreams are nearly always better than what is real – but that is not the same as saying your dreams are worthless. And remember, whatever you do, don’t stop writing. Because writing is as important to you as oxygen is to your lungs. Keep at it. Don’t be afraid of the potential sting of rejection that may follow in its wake. So take chances. Get your hands dirty.You’ll no longer cower in anyone else’s existence.
I’m going to give you some advice, which you probably won’t take because I know how stubborn you are. But maybe someone else will. Someone a lot like you. Don’t let other people discourage you from following your dreams just because they didn’t follow theirs.
And this one is the most important, so you should probably write this down. You can try to be someone else, but in the end you’ll still be you. And she’s not so bad.
-From, your seventeen year old self (who still hasn't managed to ace maths but hopefully someday, her dreams will come true)
Artwork by Pithsuicide.