“It does not matter how slowly you go, as long as you do not stop”
Dear past self,
Yesterday was my birthday, and as your parents always said, to be another year older means also to be another year wiser. From the mere 23 years I have lived, this old saying is so far proving to be true. 2 decades have passed, and I am entering into my third one, and although my life experience is still insignificant, here are some lessons I’ve learned along the way.
First of all, life is messy. It’s an obvious fact, but something that can be overlooked. Everyday we plan what we want our day to be like, and yet it will never go as planned. That is because there are things that you can control, and things you cannot control. And while we do our best to plan and perfect the former, the latter will always come as a surprise and break the flow of our plans. Life is messy and unpredictable, but learn to love the unpredictability and learn to love the spontaneity. Learn that life isn’t beautiful because it is perfect, but rather, see the beauty in the imperfectness of things. Learn that life is not about the where you are at the end, but rather about how you got there. The process is what makes life fun, and what makes for a good story, and the process is where you have the chance to develop as a human, and improve yourself.
Second, know that there will be times when others see potential in you that you don’t see. And when this happens, trust them. Similarly there will be times when you see potential that others don’t see in you, in which case trust yourself. As you grow up, you will find it harder to trust other people because you experience hurt and betrayal, but it’s so important to trust others when they support you. Life is all about inclusion, and whatever you do, it’s always good to have support, so when you are hired for a job you never thought you’d get, or when someone you never thought would, offers you help, trust that they see something that you do not yet see in yourself. Trust that they will help you, so long as you work hard and keep at it. Yet more importantly, always trust yourself. While other people may betray you, you will always be the one person who continues to support you no matter what. Don’t lose that. There will, quite opposite to the former situation, be times when others do not see what you see in you. When this happens, know that only you know what you want, what you are capable of and what you are prepared to do, and so trust that belief and keep moving forward.
Always ask for help if you need it. As scary as it might be to ask, there will always be someone who will be willing to help you out. As the saying goes “if you don’t ask, you will never get”.
Follow your instincts. They don’t call it a “gut feeling” for nothing. When something feels right or wrong, follow that feeling. Your head might be saying otherwise, but your head says a lot of unnecessary things too. Society might say otherwise too, but really, who are you living for, them or yourself? Most of the time, if you are drawn to something, compelled to take action, then whatever it is, probably is the right thing to do. Even if it means jumping into the unknown, be fearless and go for it.
Which leads me to my next point; get out of your comfort zone and learn from the experience. Know that the comfort zone is a stationary zone. While it doesn’t make you regress, it doesn’t help you progress either. Getting out of it, means challenging yourself, and that is when you really see what your limits are. You’ll be surprised because more often than not, we place our limits a lot lower than it actually is. Being out of your comfort zone will help you realise your own potential and gain confidence, because you’d be proud of yourself for getting out in the first place. Initial impressions of things are not always the lasting ones.
And finally, keep moving forward. Do all the above, and if things still doesn’t seem to be looking up, don’t beat yourself up about it. Know that sometimes you can put a load of effort into something and it goes to pieces. Life will not always be a cup half full, but it’s about how you handle the obstacles that are put in your way. If you can get up one more time than you are knocked down, that in itself is showing strength, and life will naturally find a way to give you something you deserve as a result of it. Don’t regret the past, learn from it, and just keep moving forward, one step at a time.
You still have a lot to learn, a lot to improve and the whole world is your oyster. Make the most of it because you just don’t know when things might turn around, for better or for worse. Keep your head high and take on each challenge as it comes. Don’t fear life, live it.
Dear future self
Now to my future self, I hope you are still sticking to your values. I hope that you are spending quality time with friends and family, and telling them how much they mean to you regularly. I hope you are taking the time everyday to be grateful for all that you have, and all the opportunities that have come your way.
I hope you are working hard, and prioritising things well. Hopefully you’re not putting too much strain. Work hard, but don’t over work. Have a break, and sleep in sometimes even though it’s what you hate the most.
I hope you are still being active and playing tennis, and reading books. I hope you are still educating yourself because education is priceless. I hope you are learning new skills be it languages, hobbies or what not.
Most importantly, I hope you are doing something that helps others. I hope you give more than you are taking. I hope you are going out in the fields and seeing the world, and still maintaining the positive faith you have in the good of the human heart. I hope that you still have the courage to stand back up after falling, and that you are looking forward not back. For you, the future me, is what motivates the current me, and inspires me to do the things I do. You, the future me, is my role model and the person I look up to, so I hope you are enjoying your life, and making the most of it too.