Dear 25-year-old self,
The end of 2013 marked the halfway point of your second year at university. You’ve learned lots about yourself and the world at large, whether it was through courses, people, or a little something called “life and time will do its thing.” In fact, the past four years have been quite some period of personal growth, exploring your interest in the healthcare industry, science, music, the humanities and now in business. Through this exploration, you also got a taste of how you deal with swinging from lowlights to highlights.
Remember that day you were talking to your mom? It was that day when things built up to an extent where you ended up droning on and on. On and on and on and -
After a brief pause in your monologue, she gave you an empathetic look and then proceeded to say in the most nonchalant voice you have heard:
What?! Did she seriously just say that?
You laughed so hard.
Essentially, she meant, “Get off your high horse, and don’t overthink it, you’ll live and learn.” Heed to the wisdom of those who have been there before. It was a moment of much appreciated tough love and yet another reminder of how fortunate you are that somebody cares enough to rip off a bandage for your good and then proceed to deal with the commotion afterwards. Thanks, Mom.
You knew from a very young age that the idea of building a solid foundation was something you valued a lot. You wanted to create new things, work on various projects and play with ideas. You really wanted to learn for the sake of learning, and you didn’t really care about the potential failure of doing something in a different way, just as long as something could be taken away from the experience and nobody was hurt in the process.
Then, for a certain period, you took life pretty seriously. Some will say not to take life seriously and others will say you should, but discussing that is beyond the point of this letter. Fortunately I can look back now and say that I don’t regret it and I’ve learned lots from it. It was a time where, going back to the “building a solid foundation” notion, you wanted to explore different pathways for yourself no matter how difficult it was. At the end of the day, you cared about gaining insight into yourself and into the relationships between different aspects of the world more than doing things solely for grades.
Speaking of this concept of school grades, you believed that a person receiving stellar grades in the short run without truly learning how to apply the knowledge outside of the context of school would naturally have to deal with the consequences of this in the long run. Even if the grades paid off in the short term. Now, with a little bit more experience, you’re definitely more wary about the concept of merit and the stakes that come with taking this attitude. There was a period of time where you struggled with the tensions between your intrinsic motivations because they didn’t always align with reality and other constraints. You learned that compromising is sometimes necessary to even be able to start working on an idealistic level.
It was difficult to take in at first because you weren’t sure if people wanted to solve the problem, or take the solution that feels better. You weren’t even sure what your own stance was on it. Luckily, the two don’t have to be mutually exclusive!
What I’m glad and grateful about, is that I’m not cynical or jaded right now. Because what you eventually realize is that oftentimes the problem isn’t the individual person. Individual people can have the greatest of intentions and be very competent on a one-on-one level. The problem comes when you bring people together, and what comes out of bringing all the parts together to interact as a whole.
But that’s enough with the weightier topics. I’m not quite 500 years old yet! Sorry for making this letter so heavy and solemn (what kind of 16 year old does this to herself?)– but at least you can chuckle over it later on!
So what do I want to say to you, my future self?
I just hope that, at twenty-five, remembering to show gratitude and trying your best to treat your parents, family and friends with respect and integrity is high in your priorities. Without the support of your family, friends, teachers and others who have lived before you, things would have turned out quite differently.
Also as your dad tells you, health should come first in the long run. Work hard but don’t overdo it, and more importantly work smart. Take the time to live life more. Sometimes you should just sit there and let life blow your mind. Don’t even think about it. You should plan, but after a certain point just do things and figure out if they work. Overall, relax and enjoy the adventure, alright? I’m curious to see what happens in the future. There’s a lot in store and so many opportunities for innovation and change. Let’s see what we can cook up from it, eh?
See you soon alligator,
Your younger self