Dear 18-year-old me,
Two and a half years ago, you were just getting ready to leave for university. You were nervous to the bone, and the thought of home is warm and familiar, so you said this to yourself for comfort: stay in touch with your roots. It’s very cliche, but you didn’t really know any better. That was usually the underlying moral message in the movies you grew up watching: teachers would come back to educate kids from their high school and successful athletes would go back to mentoring newly-rising stars.
Well, kiddo, it’s easier said than done.
2017 you is now sitting in the same living room you grew up in and is feeling quite distant. I went to visit our high school two weeks ago for your brother’s report card day and there were only a handful of familiar faces. You know how you always loved going to this school? It doesn’t feel the same now. The walls are painted over with new drawings from the biyearly sports cup, and the people are different. So, so different.
Over the past couple of years, you learned which friends were close because of convenience, and which ones willingly flew across the Philippine Sea just to see your sick and coughing face. You made new friends and have riveting conversations with people you never really talked to in high school. Your first serious relationship ended, but you’re fine. Fair warning, though: people at home seemed to not have moved on from it—it’s 2017 and I’m still trying to brush those comments away. Some really good friends you thought you had in high school are no longer. Conflicts arose, and you walked away at the first chance.
I’ve tucked away my shame neatly in my back pocket but revisit them out of formality and civility. It’s the only part you don’t like about home. It’s the only part I don’t like about home. We’ve travelled across many cities, encountered many people, stumbled upon amazing experiences… and yet I still can’t look at you in the eye. Part of the reason is because of the embarrassment I felt for all the wrong decisions you have made, but mostly it’s because I can’t find you.
I’ve searched for you—I try to catch glimpses of you in the stories your teachers told, I look at photographs, I reread your writings. The guilt you used to feel for doing things out of your comfort zone are no longer—I’m more adventurous than you’ve ever been. I am now embracing the parts of society you used to condemn. I took a break from our religious faith before coming back to it after half a year, this time with a clearer mind and a more accepting conscience. I’ve done things you would have never done. I believe in things you were too scared to glance at. I’d say we at least share the same name, but I’ve gone by a different nickname.
I thought I was growing into a better version of you, but I seem to be outgrowing you instead.
Perhaps this is where we part. Not that I have anything to part with, anyway—I’m not sure you even exist anymore. I feel like such a different person now that I barely recognize you. I feel like my hand is going to go through thin air when trying to shake your hand.
Will our paths intersect again? I doubt it, but it just might be so. Until then, buckle up. I guarantee the next two and a half years of your life will be amazing.
Blueaholic is listening to: Hamilton (Original Broadway Cast Recording)