Advice to My Past Self

Hey, 16-year-old Cheng, this is you, a 5-year-older,  green-haired, a bit more scarred, and seemingly put together you. I know the biggest struggle you’re facing right now is confusion. Life is not cold mathematical logic. It’s never either 0 or 1. There are so many shades of grey in between (that’s a major spoiler to a huge joke in the future; you will get it in time. High-five me later). It’s okay, no, normal even to feel confused. Am I less confused that you are? Well, on some matters, maybe, but on many other matters, I’m still very lost. You will grow to realize that very few people have it altogether. I dare say none. Everybody is just winging it as they go through life, so don’t feel too bad about your seemingly hopeless confusion.

I see you’re just starting to read, eh? Believe me, hold on to those books. Read them. Absorb them. Let them flow into your veins, your heart, and your system. When you’re told that the information you are reading doesn’t matter, that the sheer knowledge of literally billions of planets and stars out there, of people having only been living for a relatively short time compared to the Universe, of fictional characters going through the same turmoil you are facing, of the warmth you get knowing there are authors out there who understand you though they may be dead for a hundred years already, don’t listen to them. Tune it out. (You’ll learn to be amazing tune-outer). Do not give heed to any of those discouraging voices because one day (and soon enough), this information will be the only piece of cardboard you can hold on to while you are being consumed by a suffocating mass of dark, slimy water, all alone, bobbing up and down, hardly able to keep your head out of the murderous liquid surrounding you. It will be the only ray of sunshine left in the world for you when it seems like the sun may never rise again.

You’re buying books with your high-school friends? I see. You also seem to be having fun discussing with them. Well, cherish it because even if you don’t know it. Yes, you guys will drift away (pretty soon). Life will take you all to different paths of existence. Yup. Don’t frown. (I know you think you can brave the mightiest of storms to stay with your current friends), but you’ll learn that you don’t have to hold on to everything too tight, that when holding on hurts both of your partner’s and your wrists, it’s wiser to let go. It’s brave, even, to let go. You’ll spend a considerably large amount of time afterwards, wallowing in anger and self-justification by thinking that it was their faults, then in quiet guilt and slowly-burning self-approbation by thinking that the fault was actually yours. It’s okay. It’s nobody’s fault. People come and people go. You will meet new, amazing people along the way who will share your path. They might diverge one day, or they might not. Just try your best to enjoy your company as long as you guys are together. That’s the best anyone can do in any sort of relationship, really.

Oh, and you’re probably quite confused now, eh? If memories serve me right, I believe you are still having this mega-crush on that dude when you thought you were a total lez? It’s alright. You’ll discover the term bisexuality and proceed to have a very interesting dating life. Well, more interesting that you’re expecting now, anyway. You’ll find out that this crush of yours is soooooooo not available, but I’m not gonna totally spoil you.I know you will confess anyway. Do it and you will learn to be shamelessly truthful to whom you like, and whom you do not like. It’ll save you a lot of time and energy that might be otherwise lost in chasing and plotting games. While we’re on the topic, yes, you are going to fall in love. Quite soon, actually. And yes. You’re going to act all hopeless-romanticy. Yes, you are going to get your heart broken into a million pieces. So heartbroken that you can actually hear it shattering as you breathe in. So heartbroken that you forget what you were living for if not for your ex. It’s going to be the worst pain you have to go through (yet), but you’re going to survive to tell the story anyway. Maybe with some bruises and scars, but you’re going to survive.

And do you know what my ultimate advice to you is, my dear little self? It’s this. Burn this letter. Pretend you have never read it. It’s to live and breathe and exist in your own time. It’s to cherish every pain, every struggle, every sunshine, and every smile. Growth may come yet, but memories and lessons may not. Seize them and be prepare to get surprised!

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