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Op-Ed: A Letter to My Younger Self

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To my younger self, 

This letter is for you. Your life will only get much more complicated from here on out, so please be patient with yourself and don’t be afraid. There is a lot to learn and reflect on, but rest assured that you will be okay. 

You will grow up in an environment that may not always support what you dream of doing. There will be certain expectations from the adults that will pressure you to become someone else. 

You study hard and earn the highest grades in class not because you are curious, but because you are expected to be. You take up extracurricular activities, not for the sake of your interest in them, but instead because you want to feel “cool.” You do so many things out of your comfort zone, not for the sake of your enjoyment, rather, you don’t want to be compared to your “successful” cousin. 

In your teenage years, you will start to feel angsty. Indie and alternative rock bands will be your music choice because you “don’t want to be like the other girls.” You reject boy bands that you secretly like, and you also stop watching your favorite anime shows because you want to be different. You try out different sports like soccer to make you feel like you’re “one of the boys,” when you want to impress your high school crush. There will be friends who won’t care about you, but there will be ones who do and will always be with you for years. 

When you reach your late teenage years, you will start to feel more self-conscious about the color of your skin, your immigration status, your beliefs, and your sexuality. When you move to a different country, you will feel lost and lonely. Social media will start to become a big part of your life. You will feel pressured to follow the beauty and fashion trends that pop up on Tumblr.  

They’re not sustainable and are more damaging to your self-esteem. Not only that, you will meet some online “friends” that share the same interests as you. But once you start to like a different interest, they will begin to ignore you instead of accept you. 

Your online persona is not who you are.

Once you reach your early twenties, you will be challenged by your perception of yourself. The things you have learned from school will not always apply to your reality. You will have thoughts of depression and anxiety because the world isn’t fair to someone like you – a queer brown immigrant. All the insecurities you’ve had will haunt you, plague your mind, and project it to people who don’t deserve it. You will feel like the world wants you gone.

To my younger self, don’t beat yourself up. You are human, just like everyone else. 

The mistakes and regrets you experience will shape how you view not only yourself but the rest of the world. Be empathetic and accepting of change; there are things that you can’t control, so you have to learn how to adapt to them. 

But most importantly, learn to love yourself. Go listen to that boy band you loved, watch that anime show you stopped watching, and pursue the career that you always wanted to do! It’s never too late to go after the goals and dreams that you want to achieve. Be proud of your individuality; don’t be afraid to take up space, especially in places that make you feel unrepresented. You will be alright. We will be alright.

To my younger self, be kind to yourself.

Ana is a graphic design student at the Seattle Central Creative Academy. She is an aspiring designer focusing on accessibility, equity, and representation in the field. Outside of school, she likes to go hiking, cooking/baking, and watching Korean dramas.

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