"I don't think that being a strong person is about ignoring your emotions and fighting your feelings. Putting on a brave face doesn't mean you're a brave person. That's why everybody in my life knows everything that I'm going through. I can't hide anything from them. People need to realise that being open isn't the same as being weak."

- Taylor Swift

Saturday, February 02, 2013

Never Grow Up: A Letter to Sixteen Year Old Me

Now Playing: Mary's Song by Taylor Swift (I was sixteen when suddenly I wasn't that little girl you used to see but your eyes still shined like pretty lights)

This is my first guest post! This was written by a very talented writer and one of my closest friends from high school :). I don't know whether it's a testament to our friendship or the power of email that we've managed to co-ordinate this from across the globe in between my 40 hour working weeks :P. Enjoy!

But first, let me tell you the story of how 오빠 and I became friends.

A year ago now I came back from Korea and he made contact with me out of the blue, and I remember how awkward it was, those first conversations between people who have known each other for such a long time and yet don't really know each other at all. Friendship is one of those things that has no beginning or ending - stuff just happens, and you just go along with it. But when we first started becoming friends, amongst my clique falling apart and stabbing me in the back, it felt like I had a choice - to try and be the kind of person I thought someone like him would like, or to be...me. I'd done the former all my life - constantly trying to guess what people wanted from me and doing my best, but eventually failing, to live up to their expectations. It has never worked out. And even though our friendship was so new and fragile and I was still acutely aware of the differences between us, I was so tired, of trying and failing to be someone I wasn't. I decided to be myself. It was the first real 'fearless' thing I'd done since marching up to the English Office as a little twelve year old and asking to skip a grade.

오빠 and I have been friends for a year now, and our friendship is the first friendship I've had where I've been me, and to me, that is very special. We've stayed friends against the odds, I might add, but that's another thing about being sixteen that will stay with me. It seems fitting that someone to whom numbers mean nothing should be constantly living, and winning, against the odds. But I wanted someone else to write this letter. I've only been able to write the other letters because sufficient time has passed for me to have the age and wisdom to look back, on the things I am proud of, on the things that I regret, to contemplate the advice I would have given myself if I had the chance. I knew only someone else would be able to write this letter, about this year that I haven't quite gotten out of yet. And I thought there was no person better to write about the year of becoming fearless than the person who provided me with that turning point. Enjoy!

The final instalment of this series will be published on the 4th of February, the day before my birthday.

P.S. I think 오빠 would like to make it clear that I'm the one listening to Taylor Swift, not him :)

* * *

Dearest Sixteen,

Well, here it is. The big one. 16 and year 12. Who ever thought that was going to be fair?

But, like so much in your life, where no one thought you would come out, you did. You came out on top. Against what everyone has been telling you your whole life. You came out on top.

So basically what I’m saying is that 16 is your biggest “Screw you!” to the system yet :D

This was always going to be a killer of a year, and yet you powered through - you were fearless, so fearless, and that - paired with your determination - proved to be a killer combination. School, friends, medical problems, family; all can now quake at your feet, because you achieved so much. The beginning of the year was hard - I can't begin to describe how hard it was for you - and that took guts to get over. And yet you're here now, stronger than ever because of it. Take it from me; friends come and go, all throughout life. It's hard to accept that they go, but always remember that if they haven't stuck around, they're not worth sticking around for. You made new friends this year - and I hope, for my sake, they will be life long friends. You're a crazy friend to have - but that's good, because us other crazies need like minded people to talk to :D

The fact that you achieved your high school goal - the certificate of distinction - is a testimony to how well you've done. That is an achievement you should always look at, think for a moment, and then say to yourself "I AM GOD" - because you did do it, and that is pretty bloody awesome!

It's very hard to write to the 16 year old you - I have no idea how you've done it for 15 posts! - and to give advice , so I think I'll leave it with this:

Never stop being fearless. Never, ever stop being fearless.

Don't be afraid to think forward - it's far easier to be optimistic about the future than the past.

Oh, and never neglect the opportunity to ask out a hot Arab!

It has been an honour being your friend throughout your 16th year, and I look forward to being it in the 17th and many more years after that!

Now, go and turn 17 already!


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